Summer Fairs and Festivals in the Hudson Valley in 2013

Fill your calendar with these can’t-miss county fairs, festivals, and performances


Dutchess County Fair: A whirl of sights and sounds — not to mention addictive fair food — awaits you in Rhinebeck

Rock concerts, classical music series, theater (including Shakespeare), films, dance, opera — and don’t forget the county fairs. We’ve got 22 top-notch happenings to fill your summer calendar.

Mac-Haydn Theatre

May 23-September 15

For 45 summers, this Columbia County facility has offered professional musical theater-in-the-round. This season features three brand-new-to-MHT productions: the women in the workplace comedy 9 to 5 (June 6-16); the oh-so-much-fun La Cage Aux Folles (June 20-30); and All Shook Up! (Sept. 6–15), a tribute to Elvis Presley. Rounding out the schedule: The Fantasticks (May 23-June 2); Singin’ In The Rain, the most requested show of the season (July 4-21); Les Misérables (July 25-Aug. 4); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Aug. 8–18); and Gypsy (Aug. 22–Sept. 1), starring Broadway’s own Monica Wemitt as Mama Rose. 518-392-9292;

Shadowland Theater

June 1-September 29

It’s an exciting summer at this Ellenville theater, with its recently renovated main stage, refurbished and reupholstered seats, and new dressing rooms. And the productions are just as exciting. The season kicks off with The Outgoing Tide (through June 16), a compelling drama about aging, family, and forgiveness. Next up is the comedy Love/Sick (June 21-July 7), written and directed by Law & Order alum John Cariani. The romantic farce Boeing Boeing — the 2008 Broadway production won the Tony for best revival of a play — runs from July 12-Aug. 4. The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns, the sequel to last year’s musical blockbuster of the same name, showcases all the great hits of the ’50s and ’60s. The season finale, Bill W. and Dr. Bob (September 13-29), is an award-winning play about an unlikely relationship between two men that led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.  845-647-5511;

Mountain Jam

June 6-9

Fifty bands rock out on three stages over the course of this four-day festival, which takes place at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. The top of the bill includes Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, Primus, the Avett Brothers, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Grateful Dead founding member Phil Lesh. The Awareness Village includes art exhibits, presentations by environmental groups, and a beer and wine garden. Kids under 10 attend the fest for free; amuse them between sets at the Wormtown Tent activity area, or take them on the mountain’s Sky Ride chairlift or zipline (the longest in North America).  518-628-4423;

Taste of Country Music Festival

June 13-15

Close on the heels of Mountain Jam, this brand-new festival — the only multi-day country music event in the Northeast — rolls into Hunter Mountain with a laundry list of mega-superstars. Lady Antebellum, Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, Billy Currington, Montgomery Gentry, Hunter Hayes, and at least nine additional top-shelf performers take the stage. More than just music, attendees can take a spin on the Sky Ride, try their hand at Frisbee golf, and take part in parades with 12-foot tall puppets throughout the weekend. 888-512-SHOW;

Maverick Concerts

June 15-September 8

Now in its 98th season, the nation’s oldest continuous summer chamber music festival celebrates composer Benjamin Britten (who was born just two years before the series began). Britten’s song cycle Les Illuminations — composed in Woodstock in 1939 — features Met Opera tenor Paul Appleby and is one highlight of the busy season (July 27). Four world-class quartets — the Miró (June 30), Shanghai (July 7), Jupiter (July 21), and Leipzig String (Aug. 4) — make return appearances. Jazz performances and the Young People’s Concerts are also back. New this year: Film at the Maverick. The June 15 screening of Oscar nominee Josh Aronson’s Orchestra of Exiles — a documentary about Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, who rescued musicians during World War II and founded the Israel Philharmonic — marks the first time a film has been shown at the rustic concert hall (which is on the National Register of Historic Places). 845-679-8217;

Powerhouse Theater

June 21-July 28

Many shows developed during previous editions of this collaboration between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film have starred marquee performers and landed on Broadway. Highlights for this year’s eight-week season include full productions of Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s Downtown Race Riot, and Mozhan Marnó’s When The Lights Went Out. Bright Star is a musical workshop featuring music by comedian/banjo player Steve Martin and singer Edie Brickell; a new musical inspired by the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company is directed by American Idiot’s Michael Mayer. In the Heights Tony winners Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail present a reading of Miranda’s The Hamilton Mixtape. Other events include play workshops, weeklong Readings Festivals, and free outdoor theater starring members of the Apprentice Company. 845-437-5599; 845-437-5907;

Renowned as one of the country’s best incubators for live theater, Powerhouse attracts both emerging and well-established artists to work on their latest projects — some of which wind up on Broadway. Three Powerhouse alumni — Michael Mayer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Thomas Kail — return to Poughkeepsie this year. HV asked them about what they’ll be offering theatergoers this summer.  

Michael Mayer is the Tony Award-winning director of American Idiot and Spring Awakening — both of which premiered at Powerhouse. This season, he brings The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company to the stage. The show is based on a Brooklyn costume shop, created by writer/editor Dave Eggers, which also houses a not-for-profit writing program.

“This is why I like New York Stage and Film and Powerhouse Theater: because we have relative quiet and privacy, and they are unbelievably adaptable to how we want to showcase our work,” says Mayer. “If we want to work on a project and not show anyone, that’s cool. If we want to do a full-blown production with a two-week run, that’s okay, too.”

The musical, scheduled to run from July 26-28, can vary from night to night, says Mayer. “We keep working each day and changing it — so you can see what’s going to happen,” he says. “When I worked on On a Clear Day You Can See Forever [a 2010 Powerhouse production], we put in so many changes it was different by the end of the week. The Brooklyn Superhero show is fun, and the songs are delightful.”

In addition to his stage work, Mayer directed last year’s hit TV show Smash, and has just finished editing a pilot for a new show. “It’s a modern-day spin on the Hatfields and the McCoys, set in Pittsburgh in the not-too-distant future,” he says.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail collaborated on the 2008 Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights. This summer, they offer a reading of their new musical, The Hamilton Mixtape. “It’s about the life of Alexander Hamilton,” says Miranda, who takes part in the performances on July 26-28. “Our time at Powerhouse is an attempt at singing through a completed first draft.”

Kail says it’s great to have a chance to perform some of the new material in front of an audience. “One of the real benefits is that it gives us a chance to concentrate only on this,” he says. “Life pulls you in different directions. It’s thrilling to leave that all behind, go to Vassar, and concentrate on writing and working with actors. Great things happen in the crucible of that focused energy.”

Miranda already premiered a portion of this musical — which includes hip hop, Latin, and classic Broadway-style tunes — for President Obama at the White House in 2009. “Musicals take a long time,” he says. “Heights took up most of my 20s. So we’re speeding along in comparison.”

In the Heights received four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Miranda also snagged a statuette for Best Score, as well as a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.

He loves working on The Hamilton Mixtape. “It’s lived in my brain and Tommy Kail’s brain for the past few years,” he says. “The material and the time period are so rich that, without deadlines, I’ll be writing this show the rest of my life. The audience is always the last collaborator, and our work this summer will be incredibly helpful in terms of finding where they are with us, where they need more from us, where they need a break.

“[Broadway composers] Kander and Ebb had it right when they said, ‘Happiness walks in on tiptoe... It’s a quiet thing,’ ” says Miranda. “My favorite moments have always been the quieter ones, when things are soaking in. The many school productions of Heights that are now happening make me particularly proud. I still can’t believe I get to write songs for a living.”


For the past two years, country music superstar Hunter Hayes has been on a wild ride. In 2012, he was named the Country Music Association’s Best New Artist. His single, “Wanted,” became a number-one hit; his newest release, “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” currently is climbing the charts; and Encore, his brand-new album, will be released this month. Mind you, he’s just 21 years old. The singer-songwriter, who performs at the Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain on June 15, is enjoying every minute of his success. “It couldn’t be going any better,” he says. “Someone asked me if I was disappointed that I didn’t win anything at the Academy of Country Music Awards. All I could think about was that was one of the best nights of my life.”

He’s quick to explain that Encore is less a new release, and more a deluxe version of his original self-titled album. “I didn’t feel like it was time to move on, so it’s like getting a second chance to make a first impression,” he explains. “I thought about what I could do differently, so we rerecorded and reinterpreted ‘What You Gonna Do,’ a song I wrote when I was 15.”

Hayes is excited to play at the inaugural Taste of Country Music Festival. “I grew up playing at fairs and festivals every weekend with my band, before I took the next step and went to Nashville,” he says. 

Something of a prodigy, the young artist signed a publishing deal and was a full-time songwriter by the time he was 16 years old. “That got the wheels moving. I went on to write close to 100 songs for my first album.”

Concertgoers can expect to “feel the energy” during Hayes’s performance. “I studied Garth Brooks and Chris Martin. I’m definitely more energetic in my performances, and getting the crowd into the show. It’s much more fun.”

Since claiming his title as winner of American Idol a year ago, singer Phillip Phillips has been on a roll. His coronation song, “Home,” marked the highest debut on the Billboard Digital songs chart. He sang the National Anthem at the opening game at last fall’s World Series. And on August 20, the raspy vocalist from Georgia opens for the legendary John Mayer at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

“It’s an honor that he chose me to open for him,” says Phillips. “I’ll have a full band — and a good time. We’re going to be jamming out, so hopefully people will enjoy it.”

When Phillips performed on Idol, he says he never lost focus regarding the type of artist he wants to be — and that focus remains front and center. “I still stand up for what I believe is right,” he says, “but I’m learning a lot about the business, too.”

His latest single, the love song “Gone, Gone, Gone,” almost didn’t make it on to his debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon. “The label had given me another song that I didn’t like at all, so I switched it out for ‘Gone,’ ” he says.

The singer/songwriter, who has been penning tunes for a number of years, knew he wanted his own compositions on the album. “There are a few songs that are a few years old, a few new songs, and some I wrote during Idol.” The album was certified gold in January

Although his life has turned upside down since winning Idol, Phillips says that he’s enjoying every minute of it. “It’s 100 times more intense than before Idol. A few nights ago, I played in front of 3,500 people, which I had never done before. Afterwards, I had some quiet time to reflect on how cool that was.”

Phillips says fans at his Bethel Woods performance can expect to see a bang-up show. “Hopefully, when you see us having a good time, you’ll just remember that night and want to come back for more.” •

June 11–September 1

Wherefore art thou, summer Shakespeare plays? At the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, of course. Held outdoors on the grounds of Boscobel in Garrison — with the shimmering Hudson River and Highlands as a backdrop — the company’s 27th season features two of the Bard’s best-known plays: King Lear, and the comedy All’s Well That Ends Well; along with an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s swashbuckling novel The Three Musketeers, all of which run in repertory throughout the summer. New this year: “Caught In the Act” talks with actors, directors, and other theater folk; “In Process” performances of new plays, stand-up comedy, and cabaret; and “Musketeer Fight Academies,” in which kids learn to wield a (foam) sword just like d’Artagnan. 845-265-9575;

                               June 9-August 31

Held in a futuristic tent in an apple orchard near Chatham, this summer-long arts extravaganza presents performances of dance, music, theater, and film. Comedy is this season’s theme; the “Make ’Em Laugh” film festival (Aug. 5-12) spotlights movies made by Woody Allen, Steve Martin, and Peter Sellers, among others. The Walking the dog Theater troupe offers comedic short plays by contemporary playwright David Ives (July 5), and “String Theory” concerts feature music in a variety of different genres, all of which require a stringed instrument. Performances by four dance companies, kids events, and community lawn concerts round out the schedule of this something-for-everyone event. 518-392-6121;

June 15-16

The perfect combination of musical entertainment and green activism, this event was founded more than 40 years ago by the Valley’s own Pete Seeger to support the mission of the environmental organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Kris Kristofferson, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Judy Collins, Hot Tuna, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Mavis Staples, Drive-By Truckers, and Seeger himself headline this year’s lineup — along with many more folk, Americana, pop, blues, and world music performers. An artisanal food and farm market, a juried crafts fair, roving performers, traditional storytellers, and an activist area are also part of this two-day, zero-waste, biodiesel- and solar-powered festival. 845-236-5596;

Old Songs Festival

June 28-30

Celebrate acoustic music — including folk, blues, bluegrass, world, gospel, and Celtic — at the 33rd edition of this roots-music fest, held at the Altamont Fairgrounds west of Albany. At this participatory event, festivalgoers take part in jam sessions, learn-how demonstrations, gospel choir sings, and many other performances, classes, and workshops (120 in all). Evening concerts in the open-air main stage area feature performers like the Claire Lynch Band (Lynch is a bluegrass singer who hails from Kingston); flatpicking guitarist Beppe Gambetta; Quebec trio Gentricorum; and the dance bands Corachree, Groovemama, and the Clayfoot Strutters. 518-765-2815;

Beacon Riverfest

June 29

The city’s Riverfront Park hosts this free outdoor concert, which boasts three stages and a lineup with double the number of performers from last year. A headliner in 2010, alt rocker Tracy Bonham returns as part of a trio playing family-friendly tunes. Latin-inspired music by Mantuto and Chicha Libre, guitar-heavy grooves by Erin Hobson, and bluesy rock from Hollis Brown — along with Valley-based bands Higher Animals, Krewe de la Rue, and the Costellos, among others — round out the bill. And the crafts area, kids’ tent, and food vendors make it a snap to spend the whole day by the water. 917-806-1348;

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

June 15-September 6

Located at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival, this Sullivan County venue hosts more than 20 concerts during the next three months. Headliners include some of today’s hottest musical acts (Dave Matthews Band, Big Time Rush, Yo-Yo Ma, the Zac Brown Band) — and some golden oldies (Frankie Valli, Heart, Bad Company) as well. The Eagles celebrate the making of the new documentary, History of the Eagles (July 25). American Idol winner Phillip Phillips opens for John Mayer, who is touring for the first time in three years (Aug. 20). And local songstress Natalie Merchant joins the Hudson Valley Philharmonic on July 20. 866-781-2922;

Bard SummerScape

July 6-August 18

Bard SummerScape offers seven weeks of music, opera, theater, dance, film, and cabaret — along with the 24th annual Bard Music Festival (Aug. 9-11 & 16-18), which this year features performances of works by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. SummerScape kicks off with A Rite, a new dance/theater work by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and SITI Company, which is a modern response to Stravinsky’s seminal ballet The Rite of Spring. Some of the composer’s most captivating compatriots provide key SummerScape highlights, including the first fully staged American production of Sergey Taneyev’s opera Oresteia (July 26-Aug. 4); the premiere of a stage adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita (July 11-21); and a film festival entitled “Between Traditions: Stravinsky’s Legacy and Russian Émigré Cinema” (July 12-Aug. 3). And the unique mirrored Spiegeltent returns, with food, drink, and cabaret-style performances in a relaxed setting. 845-758-7900;

Belleayre Music Festival

July 6–August 31

From country music to opera to jazz and comedy, there’s something for everyone at this eight-week fest at Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount. Country music superstar Dwight Yoakam starts things off on July 6; followed by the vocal group Manhattan Transfer (July 13) and rockers the Doobie Brothers (July 20). Opera buffs can catch a production of Bizet’s Carmen on July 27. The Catskill Mountain Jazz Series offers five concerts, three of which (the Sammy Figueroa Latin Jazz Explosion on Aug. 1, the Pedrito Martinez Havana Quartet on Aug. 2, and Paquito D’Rivera and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band on Aug. 3) highlight Latin rhythms. Broadway at Belleayre welcomes dancer/singer Ben Vereen (Aug. 17); Comedy in the Catskills spotlights stand-up stars Harrison Greenbaum (Aug. 23) and Rita Rudner (Aug. 24). Round out your summer with the music of Pink Floyd (Aug. 31) performed by the Belleayre Festival Orchestra. 800-942-6904, ext. 1344;

Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice

August 1-4

Dedicating to “celebrating the human voice in all its multifaceted glory,” this four-day fest highlights composers Richard Wagner and Guiseppe Verdi, both of whom were born 200 years ago. Voices of Distinction, a group of young Broadway performers, sings a selection of Wagner’s works on Friday; Verdi’s opera Rigoletto is performed outdoors on Saturday, and more than 100 choristers with a full orchestra close out the weekend with his Requiem on Sunday. Other events include a gospel celebration; Gregorian and medieval music from the Cambridge Singers; and two stagings of Master Class, Terrence McNally’s play about opera diva Maria Callas.     845-586-3588;

The Hudson Valley
Jazz Festival

August 8-11

This fledgling event is just a few years old, but growing. Concerts take place at various venues throughout Orange County, including the Wildfire Grill in Montgomery and Falcon Arts in Marlboro. On tap: master saxophonist/flautist Dave Liebman (Aug. 10); and a quartet composed of guitarists John Abercrombie and Steve Swallow, drummer Adam Nussbaum, and saxophonist Ohad Talmor (Aug. 11). A foursome featuring guitarists Jeff Ciampa and Mark Egan opens the fest with an outdoor concert on Warwick’s Village Green (Aug. 8). Organizer Steve Rubin says a workshop and teen jazz camp are also in the works. 917-903-4380;

Orange County Family Fair

July 12-28

The Orange County Family Fair has been celebrating the bounty of the region for 173 years. The Orange County Speedway hosts this two-week-long event, with a midway provided by James E. Strates Shows — whose rides and games have been thrilling children of all ages since 1923. 845-343-4826;

Putnam County 4-H Fair

July 26-28

Held at Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel, the fair features a livestock pavilion, rabbit and poultry barn, Science and Magic Tent, and Revolutionary War encampments. There’s also a dog obedience show, a youth talent showcase, the Annual Country Auction — and don’t miss the Saturday Chicken BBQ Dinner.  845-278-6738;

Ulster County Fair

July 30-August 4

Family fun is on tap at the annual fair, where there’s a petting zoo, magic circus, rides, games, and plenty of food. With performances by Easton Corbin, the Rivers Edge Band, Cook and Belle, and Jason Michael Carroll, country fans can catch a show for $15 (the price of your fair admission). 845-255-1380;

Dutchess County Fair

August 20-25

The fair, which features hundreds of games, rides, animals, exhibits, and food vendors, is in its 168th year. Performers include the Eli Young Band; the Extreme Pogo championship stunt team; and the JCB Dancing Diggers, who utilize backhoes, diggers, and other heavy machinery in their routines. 845-876-4000;

Columbia County Fair

August 28-September 2

Painted pony rodeos, carnival rides, demolition derbys, monster tractor pulls, fair food, and more — this six-day fair, held in Chatham, offers a perfect way to end your summer.  518-392-2121;

June 22-August 7

Now in its 68th year, this fest once again brings the best of all musical genres to Katonah. Kicking things off is She Loves Me (June 22-23), the 1963 Broadway musical that was the inspiration behind the movie You’ve Got Mail. The always-popular Bel Canto at Caramoor opera series spotlights works by Guiseppe Verdi in honor of the composer’s 200th birthday. Del McCoury sings never-before-heard lyrics by Woody Guthrie at the American Roots Music Festival (June 29); chanteuses Suzanne Vega (Aug. 2) and Audra McDonald (Aug. 3) give solo concerts; and a “Pops, Patriots and Fireworks” concert marks the July 4th holiday. Last but not least, the three-day Jazz Festival (July 26-28) spotlights Luciana Souza, Delfeayo Marsalis, and the Mingus Big Band. 914-232-1252;

Putnam County 4-H Fair

Farm equipment, like this
tractor, is on display at
the Putnam County Fair

Columbia County Fair

Youngsters enjoy a serpentine roller-coaster ride



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