8 Hot Hudson Valley Food Festivals
Wrap up the summer by checking out a delightful — and delicious — local food festival
The picturesque Black Dirt Feast in Warwick
Photograph by Jia Han Dong
Black Dirt Feast
It’s not often we know where our food comes from, let alone have the opportunity to enjoy it on the farm itself. But that is exactly what the Black Dirt Feast offers. Named for the fertile topsoil for which the region is renowned, this event combines a farm-to-table menu with an al fresco venue. Diners enjoy six courses of local produce and foods prepared by some of the area’s most distinguished chefs, complete with entertainment and picturesque views from Scheuermann Farm’s great lawn. “The best part of the Black Dirt Feast is the incredible atmosphere,” says Pine Island Chamber of Commerce President John Redman. “It is so beautiful and lush; people often take off their shoes.” Some sneak peeks from the menu include Glenmere Mansion Chef Geoffroy Deconinck’s loup de mer — a European sea bass — and Bottoms Up owner and Chef Kevin May’s chicken roulade.
When: Aug. 5, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: $100, reservations required
Where: Scheuermann Farms & Greenhouses, 73 Little York Rd., Warwick
Details: 845-258-7008; www.pineislandny.com
Sampling the vintages at Putnam’s Food & Wine Fest
Putnam County Wine & Food Fest
Good wine, good food, and good company are the hallmarks of the Putnam County Wine and Food Fest. Although organizer Lauren Drummond says she tries to “keep it small,” as many as 10 local wineries — including Chatham Winery, Warwick Valley, and Whitecliff Vineyard in Gardiner — pair up with food purveyors like Pomona’s La Talaye Catering (which specializes in Caribbean cuisine) and Ghent cheesemongers the Pampered Cow at this two-day outdoor event. Food trucks (BonaVenia Pizza), specialty vendors (Luigi’s Infused Oil), and arts and crafters are also on hand — along with live musical acts. Upwards of 3,000 people attended last year’s fest, so it may not be so small after all.
When: August 2-3, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Sat.); 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sun.)
Cost: $30 in advance; $35 at the gate; designated driver $10
Where: Patterson Flea Market, 3161 Rte. 22, Patterson
Details: 800-557-4185, ext. 9; www.putnamcountywinefest.com
The Blueberry Festival
For many, the word “huckleberry” invokes images of the iconic Mark Twain character, Huckleberry Finn. But for residents of the Shawangunk Mountain region, this wild blueberry symbolizes a wealth of local history. Beginning with the Native American cultivation of the fruit, the blueberry-picking industry has played a significant role in the formation of this area — which is exactly what the Blueberry Festival celebrates. Now on its 15th year, the festival brings the community together. Participants take part in activities including the blueberry pancake breakfast and a blueberry pie-judging contest; a variety of street vendors offer goods for sale, and there is live entertainment for all ages. “For me, the best part is watching the village transform into this grand celebration overnight,” says fest coordinator Dianne Turner, also known as “Mother Blueberry.” “Blueberry Festival Day is just a sea of happy, happy people enjoying themselves, their families, and those around them.”
When: Aug. 9, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Canal St. & Union Sq., Ellenville
Details: 845-647-4620; www.ewcoc.com
Chef & Farmer Brunch
This food showcase pays tribute to the growing farm-to-table trend, with 15 local restaurants, wineries, and farms presenting the best of their harvest. This year, Valley favorites like Crown Maple Syrup, Harney & Sons Tea, Number 9 Restaurant, and Jacuterie will be doling out samples, which in the past have included unique creations like milk-braised pork; cucumber and shrimp gazpacho; and, naturally, local cheeses and charcuterie. Jazz musicians will be on hand to entertain during the brunch, which benefits the North East Community Center, a nonprofit organization that provides critical social services to both children and adults.
When: Aug. 10, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cost: General admission $50, VIP admission $75
Where: Railroad Plaza, 14 Main St., Millerton
Details: 518-789-4259; www.neccmillerton.org
Empire State Plaza Food Festival
Well-known ’80s rocker Eddie Money headlines this annual festival, which attracts 15,000 attendees each year. In addition to live music — musical artists Slick Fitty, the Chris Busone Band, and Ten Year Vamp are also slated to perform — the fest showcases the specialty dishes of more than 50 local food vendors. And a variety of wines, cheeses, and other farm-fresh products tempt patrons at the Plaza Farmers Market.
When: Aug. 13, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Where: Empire State Plaza, 240 State St., Albany
Grill teams strut their stuff at RibFest
Hudson Valley RibFest
Your fingers may get covered with sticky sweetness, but still, nothing says summertime like barbecued ribs. Which explains why the Hudson Valley RibFest has sometimes drawn crowds of more than 16,000 people. This year’s festival includes plenty of opportunities to taste mouthwatering barbecue. A wide variety of vendors, chef demonstrations, and live music performances — from artists such as country musicians Chelsea Cavanaugh and Jessica Lynn — are also on hand. And let’s not forget the fierce barbecuing competitions, with teams from far and wide all battling for the title of Grand Champion.
When: Aug. 15-17, 5-10 p.m. (Fri.); 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Sat.); 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (Sun.)
Cost: $5, under 12 free
Where: Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Rd., New Paltz
Details: 845-306-4381; www.hudsonvalleyribfest.org
Fish & Game Farm
Chefs from throughout North America gather at Hudson’s 175-acre Fish and Game farm for the second annual Northern Chefs Alliance and FarmOn! Foundation interactive dinner. With five chefs representing the U.S. and five from Canada, the cooks collaborate and create dishes using products harvested in the Valley. Guests are encouraged to mingle with the chefs as they prepare their treats using outdoor fire pits, smokers, and grills. Some notable names scheduled to attend include April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig in New York; Sean Brock of McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina; Rob Gentile of Buca in Toronto; and Derek Damann of Maison Publique in Montreal. Live jazz is performed by the noted trio Medeski Martin and Wood; proceeds for the event support the FarmOn! Foundation, an organization which educates young people on the importance of farming.
When: Aug. 17, 3:30 p.m.
Where: 623 Fish and Game Rd., Hudson
Details: 518-325-9437; www.friendsofthefarmer.com
Playing with your food at Monticello’s Bagel Festival
Monticello claims to be the birthplace of the bagel — and to honor that legacy, the town’s first Bagel Festival was held last year to rave reviews. This year’s festivities are expected to be much larger: They’re set to include a parade; three wedding ceremonies; games like the bagel chain, bagel triathlon, and bagel decoration contest; live music; and, of course, an assortment of bagel-makers and other vendors stretching down Broadway. Be sure to check out the first ever bagel-making machine, which was created by Sullivan County resident Louis Wichinsky in 1966, and is on display at the festival.
When: Aug. 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Broadway, Monticello
- Find our complete list of the Valley’s festivals at www.hvmag.com/summerfests2014