Fairs and Festivals 2014
The trees are green, the sun is hot, and festival season is in full gear. Our roundup of local fests includes all sorts of events that are sure to please everyone from music lovers to county fair hoppers
The Dutchess County Balloon Festival takes off in the Valley on July 4. See a video below
Photograph by Michael Polito
From Shakespeare to county fairs to giant chains crafted from bagels, these events will help you celebrate summer in style.
Beginning in May...
May 2-November 2 Shadowland Theatre, Ellenville
What it is: The recently renovated Art Deco theater offers a variety of professionally produced plays and musicals. This year marks its 30th anniversary.
What’s new: The building upgrade allows the season to be extended to seven productions, which stretches well into the fall. Summer plays include Jeffrey Hatcher’s comic drama Three Viewings (June 15), which stars Stephanie Zimbalist (best-known for her role on TV’s Remington Steele); the comic caper Unnecessary Farce (July 11-Aug. 3); and the country-western musical Honky-Tonk Highway (Aug. 8-Sept. 7).
Be sure to: Appreciate city-quality theater nowhere near Manhattan. “We feel like we’ve gone to the next level,” says Artistic Director Brendan Burke. “There’s an ‘awe factor’ with the quality of the work, both in the building and our productions.” 845-647-5511; www.shadowlandtheatre.org
May 22-September 14 Mac-Haydn Theatre, Chatham
What it is: A Chatham staple since 1969, this troupe uses professional actors in their jam-packed schedule of mainstage and children’s musicals, which mingle new releases and Broadway classics. With each seat no more than 30 feet from the stage, theatergoers feel as though they’re part of the show.
What’s new: Among the offerings are perennial favorites The Music Man (June 5-8 & 11-15), 42nd Street (July 3-6, 9-13, 16-20), and Guys and Dolls (August 7-10 & 13-17), along with the kid-pleasing Rumpelstiltskin (August 15-16 & 22-23).
Be sure to: Catch a glimpse of a rising star. Broadway’s Nathan Lane, TV actress Paige Turco, and Met opera tenor Frank Lopardo all appeared at the Mac-Haydn before hitting the big time. 518-392-9292; www.machaydntheatre.org
Beginning in June...
June 1 Hudson Valley Pride March & Festival, New Paltz
What it is: This festival began as a celebration of same-sex marriage in New Paltz. A decade later, its size — as well as its spirit — has grown exponentially: The parade, which caps off Hudson Valley LGBTQ Pride Week, is expected to draw over 2,500 attendees. In addition to the march there is live music, food and craft vendors, and the Youth Booth — which houses games, activities, and resources for children and teens.
What’s new: Leading the festivities is Grand Marshall Evan Wolfson, the renowned civil rights lawyer who founded Freedom to Marry, a group that campaigns for marriage equality.
Be sure to: Wear your rainbow colors for the parade, which features marching bands, balloons, flags, and local civic and business groups. 845-331-5300; www.lgbtqcenter.org/events/pride-march-and-festival
June 1-August 31 Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel
What it is: Located at the site of the iconic 1969 Woodstock festival, Bethel Woods today may attract a tamer crowd (which can be as many as 15,000 music lovers), but the musicians on its stage are just as world-class. Along with the outdoor amphitheater, the center houses an interactive museum dedicated to the history of Woodstock and the 1960s.
What’s new: This season’s packed schedule includes classic rockers (Santana, Journey, the Steve Miller Band, Boston, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton, the Doobie Brothers) and newer favorites (Kings of Leon, Goo Goo Dolls); country stars (Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, John Fogerty, Keith Urban) and perennial icons (James Taylor, The Temptations, the Four Tops, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie).
Be sure to: Experience Beatlemania. America Meets the Beatles, a special exhibit of photos and memorabilia commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s arrival in the U.S., is on display in the museum. 866-781-2922; www.bethelwoodscenter.org
June 5-8 Mountain Jam, Hunter
What it is: This four-day, multistage rock festival — which marks its 10th anniversary this month — features an eclectic line-up of musicians and various other activities such as the Hunter Mountain Skyride, yoga and zumba classes, Frisbee golf, an artist signing tent and drum circle (where beginners are welcome). Camping is part of the fun at the family friendly fest, which offers more than 20 food vendors.
What’s new: The Allman Brothers Band headlines the show, in what is likely one of their final performances (the group will cease touring at the end of this year). “The festival takes its name from one of the Allman Brothers’ most beloved songs,” says Mountain Jam founder Gary Chetkof, “and I don’t think there will be a dry eye at the conclusion of their set.” Other notable acts include Bob Weir and Rat Dog, Gov’t Mule, Pretty Lights, the Avett Brothers, and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.
Be sure to: See the action from above. “The most popular attraction — besides the musicians — is probably the skyride,” says Chetkof. “The view and setting are beautiful, and it’s fun.” 518-628-4423; www.mountainjam.com
BONUS: June 8 K104 Fest, Wappingers Falls
What it is: Catch radio favorites Jason Derulo, Lil Jon, Austin Mahone, Icona Pop, and Nick Cannon at the station’s annual summer concert. www.k104online.com
June 10-August 31 Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Garrison
What it is: The region’s only resident Shakespeare company celebrates the Bard’s 450th birthday with three productions that run in repertory throughout the summer. Performances take place beneath the troupe’s state-of-the-art theater tent on the grounds of Boscobel.
What’s new: Newly appointed artistic director Davis McCallum takes the helm for HVSF founder Terry O’Brien, who retired last fall. “What makes HVSF so special is the magical connection between the acting company and the audience under that tent,” says McCallum. “It’s a real gift to be invited to be a part of something so uniuqe in the American theater.” McCallum begins his new gig with a pair of Shakespearean favorites, Othello and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Also on tap is David Ives’s The Liar, a 17th-century farce about a man who cannot tell the truth and his maidservant who is unable to lie.
Be sure to: Grab a basket and enjoy a pre-theater picnic while taking in unrivaled views of the river and Highlands. 845-265-9575, www.hvshakespeare.org
June 13-15 Taste of Country Music Festival, Hunter
What it is: The largest country music festival in the Northeast, this three-day hoedown has a true country vibe — there are barbecues and pig roasts, pony rides, and a petting zoo, as well as plenty of space for RV camping.
What’s new: Among the 20-plus acts gracing the stage this year: Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert, Randy Houser, Hank Williams Jr., Leah Turner, and Jamie Lynn Spears.
Be sure to: See how long you can last riding the mechanical bull. 518-628-4423; www.tasteofcountryfestival.com
BONUS: June 14-15 Hudson Valley Bachfest, Cornwall, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie
What it is: This annual weekend, hosted by the Hudson Valley Society for Music, features four concerts dedicated to the famed Baroque musician and composer. www.hudsonvalleysocietyformusic.org/bachfest.htm
June 17-September 6 PS21, Chatham
What it is: Variety is the spice of this 12-week-long multi-arts festival, which features a variety of music, dance, theater, and film presentations.
What’s new: Now in its ninth year, this summer series introduces the inaugural Chatham Dance Festival, which features five performances as well as workshops for adults. Returning favorites include Walking the dog Theater (June 26-28) and free movies on Tuesdays.
Be sure to: Bring the kids to “Just for Fun,” five free Friday afternoon programs for the young’uns; ventriloquist Steve Charney and “Harry” kick things off (July 18). 518-392-6121; www.ps21chatham.org
BONUS: June 20-22 Newburgh Illuminated Festival, Newburgh
What it is: Did you know that Newburgh was one of the very first American cities to get electricity? Thomas Edison built a generator building on Montgomery Street in 1883. In celebration of this heritage, the city hosts this three-day festival, which is organized around the theme “Made in Newburgh.” Close to 3,500 people are expected to check out locally-made art, music, historic exhibits, craft vendors, a farm market, garden displays, and much more. www.newburghilluminated.com
June 20-July 18 Aston Magna Music Festival, Annandale-on-Hudson
What it is: America’s longest-running early-music festival that uses only historically accurate instruments, this five-week series takes place in four venues in Massachusetts and New York — including Bard College’s Olin Auditorium.
What’s new: This year’s theme, “A Season of Romance, War, and Other Human Follies,” focuses on compositions dealing with the seedier side of life; program titles include “Music from a Turbulent 17th Century England” (July 3-5) and “Vice Squad: Baroque Skirmishes with Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee and Love” (July 10-12).
Be sure to: Hear the world premiere of up-and-coming composer Nico Muhly’s latest work, aptly named Aston Magna, on July 17-19. Pre-concert lectures begin an hour before all shows. 800-595-4849; www.astonmagna.org
June 20-July 27 Powerhouse Theater, Poughkeepsie
What it is: For 30 years, this collaboration between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film has brought both well-known and emerging writers, directors, and actors to Poughkeepsie to develop new works for stage and screen — which are then produced for local audiences.
What’s new: A trio of mainstage shows: David Greenberg’s The Babylon Line (June 25-July 6), in which a Greenwich Village author teaches creative writing to straight-laced Long Islanders; In Your Arms (July 5-13), 10 wordless dance vignettes written by Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Alfred Uhry, and seven other preeminent playwrights; and John Patrick Shanley’s The Listener (July 16-27), a Hitchcock-like mystery with a modernist edge.
Be sure to: See Broadway’s next big thing. Shows workshopped at Powerhouse (like Shanley’s Doubt) routinely end up on the Great White Way. And this just in: Actor Josh Radnor (of How I Met Your Mother fame) is slated to appear in one of this season’s productions; stay tuned for further star-studded cast announcements. 845-437-5907; www.powerhouse.vassar.edu
June 21-22 Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, Croton-on-Hudson
What it is: What began 40 years ago as a fund-raiser to help clean up the polluted Hudson has morphed into a two-day event with seven stages of entertainment, environmental exhibits, hand-crafted art, artisanal food, and a farm market.
What’s new: The festival honors its founders, the late Pete and Toshi Seeger, throughout the weekend, starting with an opening music set featuring Tom Paxton, Tom Chapin, and Dar Williams (among others). Other headliners: Singer/songwriters Lucinda Williams and Rufus Wainwright III; and Puss N Boots, an all-female trio featuring Grammy winner Norah Jones.
Be sure to: Step aboard the sloop Clearwater, or its sister schooner the Mystic Whaler, for a sail on the Hudson. 877-435-9849; www.clearwaterfestival.org
June 21-August 3 Caramoor International Music Festival, Katonah
What it is: A star-studded line-up appears at this Italian-style villa, with performances taking place at multiple locations (including the 1,700-seat Venetian Theater, the outdoor Spanish Courtyard, and the picturesque Sunken Garden).
What’s new: Violin superstar Joshua Bell starts things off (June 21); the bel canto opera series spotlights Lucrezia Borgia (July 12 & 18) and Rigoletto (July 19); pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane leads the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in Copland’s Appalachian Spring (July 6).
Be sure to: Celebrate the Glorious Fourth with Broadway’s Ryan Silverman and the Westchester Symphonic Winds at the Pops, Patriots & Fireworks concert (July 4). 914-232-1252; www.caramoor.org
June 21-September 7 Maverick Concerts, Woodstock
What it is: America’s oldest continuous summer chamber music festival (99 years!) holds its concerts in an acoustically superb “music chapel” built in the Catskill woods in 1916.
What’s new: The intimate venue attracts some of the world’s leading string quartets, such as the Shanghai (June 29), the Calder (July 6), the Ensoō (July 13), and the Modigliani (Aug. 3).
Be sure to: Take a musical trip to Spain at the annual Chamber Orchestra Concert (Aug. 23), which highlights works by Manuel de Falla and Federico Garcia Lorca. 845-679-8217; www.maverickconcerts.org
June 27-29 Old Songs Festival, Altamont
What it is: Acoustic roots music of all stripes — folk, blues, bluegrass, traditional, world, and Celtic — is the focus of this three-day event. Audience participation is a key part of the fest: Attendees are encouraged to join jam sessions, take music classes, or sing sacred harp. At “Todd Crowley’s Music Petting Zoo,” you can try to play any of more than 100 folk instruments.
What’s new: Performers heading this year’s bill include De Temps Antan (a traditional French-Canadian music trio), Matuto (a Brazilian folk and bluegrass band), Brooks Williams (a blues guitarist), and the Valley’s own Vanaver Caravan music and dance company.
Be sure to: Give a listen to the Great Groove Band, which is comprised of young musicians aged 6-18 and performs on Sunday afternoon. 518-765-2815; http://festival.oldsongs.org
June 27-August 17 Bard SummerScape/Bard Music Festival, Annandale-on-Hudson
What it is: These two fests are joined at the hip. SummerScape presents seven weeks of music, theater, film, and cabaret performances, many of which tie directly into the theme of the Music Festival — which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year by lauding 19th-century Austrian composer Franz Schubert.
What’s new: For the first time in a century, Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Euryanthe is performed in the U.S., with soprano Ellie Dehn in the lead role (July 25, 27, 30; Aug. 1 & 3). A semistaged production of Schubert’s own opera, Fierrabras (Aug. 17) — along with other concerts, lectures, and special events — takes place as part of the Music Festival.
Be sure to: Experience the Spiegeltent. Avant-garde performer Justin Vivian Bond hosts weekend programs at this mirrored entertainment space, one of only a handful of these traveling tents still in use today. 845-758-7900; www.fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape
Beginning in July...
July 4-6 Dutchess County Balloon Festival, Poughkeepsie
What it is: Between 15 and 20 hot air balloons dot the sky during this three-day festival. The balloons lift off twice a day — at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. — from various locations throughout Dutchess County (check Web site for complete list of sites); the most popular is the morning launch from the Hudson River Boathouse (July 5-6), which has previously drawn a crowd of 2,000 people.
What’s new: Launch locations include fun diversions, such as games for kids, barbecues, raffles, live music, and face painting. The Moon Glow launch at the Vassar Alumnae House (July 5) allows onlookers to see the balloons at sunset.
Be sure to: Get a spot at the guardrail on the Walkway Over the Hudson, which opens early to accommodate the morning launches. It’s a primo place to view the balloons as they float above the river. 845-454-1700; www.dcrcoc.org/balloonfestival
July 5-August 30 Belleayre Music Festival, Highmount
What it is: This diverse fest offers music of all types — rock, blues, country, jazz, even opera — in the bucolic setting of the Catskills high peaks.
What’s new: Catch legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy (July 12), country crooner Gretchen Wilson (July 19), and Tony-winning Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz (Aug. 16). For opera buffs, the Belleayre Festival Opera takes on Donizetti’s Lucia Di Lammermoor (July 26).
Be sure to: Jazz things up with the Catskill Mountain Jazz Series, five shows highlighted by the Django Reinhardt Festival (Aug. 1). 800-942-6904, ext. 1344; www.belleayremusic.org
July 11-13 The Hudson Project, Saugerties
What it is: The latest entry in the region’s multi-day music events calendar debuts this year at the 800-acre Winston Farm — site of the shindig that marked the 25th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock festival — near Saugerties. Four stages as well as an interactive performance area host musical acts as well as performance artists, art installations, workshops, and other group activities.
What’s new: More than 60 musicians and bands — including headliners Kendrick Lamar, Bassnectar, Modest Mouse, and the Flaming Lips — are on the program.
Be sure to: Experience glamping. Festival-goers have the option of roughing it in luxury tents decked out with linen-covered beds and other amenities; plus, concierge service is at your beck and call 24/7. www.hudsonmusicproject.com
July 17-20 Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Oak Hill
What it is: This four-day gathering pulls in some of the biggest names in bluegrass music to perform on its three stages. A wide range of vendors is on-site, offering all manner of foods, crafts, jewelry, and clothing.
What’s new: Folk favorite Nickel Creek, which recently released a new album after a nine-year hiatus, opens the show (July 17). Other artists slated to appear: the Del McCoury Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Gibson Brothers, Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, the Aoife O’Donovan Band, Claire Lynch, Balsam Range, Della Mae — more than 30 musical acts in all.
Be sure to: Bring your instrument to the Slow Jam Tent, where players of all abilities play together and learn “jam etiquette.” 888-946-8495; www.greyfoxbluegrass.com
BONUS: July 18-20 Hudson Valley Chalk Festival, New Paltz
What it is: The Water Street Market hosts 20 professional artists from around the country during its three-day fest, which features chalk art, live music, raffles, face painting, and an open chalk area. www.hudsonvalleychalkfestival.com
BONUS: July 26-27 Bounty of the Hudson, Washingtonville
What it is: Sample wine, cheese, and live music at this year’s celebration of the Hudson Valley harvest. www.shawangunkwinetrail.com/viewevents.php
BONUS: July 27 Blueberry Festival, Austerlitz
What it is: Held on the grounds of the Old Austerlitz living history museum, this full day celebration presents live music, craft demonstrations, and an abundance of blueberries. www.oldausterlitz.org/events/blueberry_festival_2014
July 30-August 3 Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Phoenicia
What it is: From arias to world music, this five-day event offers more than 20 programs that concentrate on the human voice as a musical instrument. Concerts, workshops, lectures, and story-telling programs take place at five different area locales, from churches to coffeehouses.
What’s new: The music of sunny Spain commands the spotlight, with a concert of Spanish Renaissance music by the Cambridge Chamber Singers, and a semistaged performance of Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville (both on Aug. 2). The lineup also includes the world premiere of a new work by playwright/novelist Carey Harrison (Aug. 1-3).
Be sure to: Exercise your own pipes at the free public workshops that teach participants to sing in harmony — even if you can’t read music (July 31-Aug. 1). 845-586-3588; www.phoeniciavoicefest.org
Beginning in August...
BONUS: August 8-10 Hudson MusicFest, Hudson
What it is: Hailed as New York State’s largest free three-day music festival, this massive fete highlights rock, pop, and folk artists. www.hudsonmusicfest.com
BONUS: August 14-17 Hudson Valley Jazz Festival, Warwick (and various locations)
What it is: Highlighting the best local jazz artists, this four-day fest features concerts in multiple towns throughout the Valley. www.hudsonvalleyjazzfest.org
August 15-17 Hudson Valley RibFest, New Paltz
What it is: Celebrating its 10th year, this annual festival and barbecue contest offers a lot more than just mouth-watering meat: There’s live music, cooking demonstrations, and vittles of every sort.
What’s new: Friday night festivities are open to the public this year, with country musicians Lindsey Erin and Angel Mary and the Tennessee Werewolves providing the tunes. Performing Saturday are Chelsea Cavanaugh and Little Creek; the Steven Alexander Band and Jessica Lynn are on tap for Sunday.
Be sure to: Cheer on your favorite grillmasters. Judging for the New England Barbecue Society grilling contest takes place Saturday, the Kansas City Barbecue Society picks its winners on Sunday. 845-306-4381; www.hudsonvalleyribfest.org
August 17 The Bagel Festival, Monticello
What it is: It goes without saying that we New Yorkers love our bagels. What better way to pay homage to this doughy pastry than by attending a festival dedicated to them? Upwards of 5,000 bagel lovers came out for last year’s inaugural edition of this fest and helped create the world’s largest bagel chain, which stretched far down the street. The event features a bevy of food vendors of all kinds as well as live music, games, giveaways, and a parade.
What’s new: Get a lesson in baking history in the memorabilia tent, where the original bagel-making machine is on display.
Be sure to: Work off some calories by taking part in the bagel triathlon. www.thebagelfestival.org/event
August 22-23 Mudfest, Prattsville
What it is: After floods caused by Hurricane Irene decimated Prattsville in 2011, the inhabitants of this small Catskills town fought back, banding together to rebuild their community bit by bit. Now in its third year, Mudfest celebrates the resilience and spirit of Prattsville’s residents with live music, food vendors, an arts fair, fireworks (on Friday evening), and a variety of games — like tug of war and a Muddy Volleyball Tournament. “And still in the works are a number of other things that will add up to a lot of fun,” says Mudfest co-director Greg Town.
What’s new: This year’s festivities include an inaugural 5K run/walk, and a horseshoe tournament.
Be sure to: Get down and dirty on the mud slip-and-slide. www.facebook.com/prattsvillemudfest
August 22-24 Summer Hoot Festival, Olivebridge
What it is: Folkies get their fill at this weekend music festival, which (at press time) has more than 20 artists on the bill. Held at the Ashokan Center, the fest encourages camping at various sites throughout the center’s 374 acres.
What’s new: Singer/songwriter David Bromberg — whose latest album, Only Slightly Mad, was released in 2013 — headlines the program. The bluegrass trio Down Hill Strugglers with John Cohen (a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers) and the soulful Simi Stone are other notables.
Be sure to: Take advantage of the down-home arts and crafts activities, which include broom-making and square dancing. 845-657-8333; www.homeofthehoot.com
Dutchess County Fair, Rhinebeck August 19-24
What it is: For more than 160 years, this weeklong event has been a staple of our sticky Valley summers. With a bevy of food and craft vendors, an exotic animal petting zoo, pony rides, arts and crafts displays, pig races, livestock competitions, games, rides, live music, and other performances, there is certainly something for everyone.
What’s new: Grandstand entertainers include Australian pop singer Cody Simpson, jazz percussionist Koko Jones, country singers Eric Paslay and Randy Houser, and folk rockers the Felice Brothers with Simone Felice.
Be sure to: Get milk! The 4H milkshakes sold at the fair are legendary. 845-876-4000; www.dutchessfair.com
Columbia County Fair, Chatham August 27-September 1
Orange County Fair, Middletown July 17-27
Putnam County Fair, Carmel July 25-27
Ulster County Fair, New Paltz July 29-August 3