Fairs and Festivals

The Valley is home to tons of fabulously fun family festivities during the warm weather months. This year, you can check out jazz or classical music, Shakespearean plays, carnival rides and funnel cakes — and even one of the nati

Fairs and Festivals


- Advertisement -

Our Annual Listing Of Events And Amusements In The Hudson Valley

Including Musical Performances, Theatrical Presentations


- Partner Content -



The Hudson Valley is a region that never ceases to amaze —  or engage. Skiing in the winter, leaf-peeping in the fall, and sunshine and splendor through April showers and May flowers. Summertime in the Valley is no exception, with fairs and festivals to fête every interest, from the arts to good eating. Here’s the inside scoop from the people behind the scenes at some of the Valley’s hottest summer happenings.

- Advertisement -


By Shannon Gallagher






June 7

With 10 successful years under its belt, RiverFest in Cornwall-on-Hudson is full steam ahead. The one-day, “small-town” community celebration takes place along the sunny banks of the Hudson (even if it’s not so sunny: the event is rain or shine). This year’s musical lineup focuses the spotlight on Cornwall youth, with performances by local favorites Within the Wall and Unlimited Time Only. What the insiders are saying: Take a ride on the Beacon Sloop Club’s Woody Guthrie. Though the sailboat was out of commission for last year’s festivities, RiverFest committee member Karen Schaack assures us that, weather permitting, guests can take a free sail and enjoy the view from another angle. “Donahue Park is the most picturesque place on the Hudson,” she says. Donahue Park, Cornwall-on-Hudson. www.river-fest.com



June 10-August 31

If the light is the sun and Juliet is the east, then the Hudson Valley is the place for summer Shakespearean fun, thanks to the HVSF. The critically acclaimed festival returns to its open-air tent at the Boscobel Restoration for its 22nd season with performances of the comedy Twelfth Night (June 18-Aug. 31) and the rarely performed romance Cymbeline (June 10-Aug. 30). And, for the first time, the HVSF has added a third act to the program: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (July 22-Aug. 28), a three-man vaudeville piece which attempts to cover all of the Bard’s work in just under two hours. A “crowd-pleaser for the whole family,” The Complete Works is the fest’s first foray into contemporary drama. What the insiders are saying: HVSF Artistic Director Terrence O’Brien is particularly excited about Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays about regeneration, reunion, and the culmination of a life’s work. “The cast is great,” O’Brien enthuses. The season is longer too, now running Tuesday through Sunday. Boscobel Restoration. Rte. 9D, Garrison. 845-265-7858 or www.hvshakespeare.org



June 14-Aug. 24

While not in the Hudson Valley, Becket, Massachussetts’ Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival — the country’s oldest dance fest — is well worth a trip. (The Berkshires compound is no more than two hours from the southernmost parts of the Valley.) The 76th summer season features over 75 classes, 100 performances, and 200 free events — including interviews, film screenings, exhibits, receptions, and tours. Among the highly anticipated guests: Ko & Edge Company (Japan), Hofesh Shechter Company (England), Bill T. Jones, Ballet Boyz, and the Trey McIntyre Project. What the insiders are saying: The motif of this year’s program is the visual arts, so look for exciting set design and visual technology. “This season is an intensely colorful kaleidoscope of extraordinary artists and dance forms, from ancient classical traditions to state-of-the-art visual media and technology,” says Ella Baff, Jacob Pillow’s executive director. 358 George Carter Rd., Becket, Mass. www.jacobspillow.org



June 21-22

One of the country’s first “green festivals” and still the nation’s largest (roughly 15,000 people attend each year), Clearwater is a two-day celebration of music and environmental awareness along the Hudson. Founded by folk singer Pete Seeger, the festival has incorporated green technology and philosophy into its very infrastructure, relying on solar and biodiesel energy to power their five stages; and offering green workshops, exhibitions, an activist area for community outreach, and the ever-popular Green Living Expo. This year, see what artists around the country have to say about the environment — in three minutes or less — as the 10 winners of the Clearwater Environmental Short Film Competition are presented. Oh, and there’s the music. Reggae, folk, gospel, and other eclectic world sounds, performed by artists chosen for their commitment to inspiring action through song, are sure to open your mind to a “greener” future. What the insiders are saying: Come support your river and your local musicians! Hudson Valley locals in the mix include the Felice Brothers, a young rough-and-tumble ensemble from Palenville whose authentic Americana and raucous performance style have earned them acclaim from England to Los Angeles; the legendary sibling bluegrass duo, Happy and Artie Traum; and Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Sleepy Hollow natives whose spiritual-alt-country-Americana sound has garnered praise from the New York Times and a spot on national TV. Croton Point Park, Rte. 9A, Croton. 800-67-SLOOP or www.clearwaterfestival.org



June 21-August 3

As renowned for its beauty as the magical concerts that have taken place there since the Second World War, Caramoor is a Hudson Valley gem not to be missed. The Mediterranean-style estate — once the private home of collectors Lucie and Walter Rosen — is now known as the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. The annual music festival (now in its 63rd year) brings a spectacular lineup of international virtuosi in every genre from bluegrass and opera to classical, jazz, and cabaret. The property maintains three performance venues: the 1700-seat Venetian Theater, the intimate Music Room, and the stunning outdoor Spanish Courtyard. Enhancing the experience is the fact that each concert is unique to Caramoor. “Each program is created from scratch for the season,” claims Director Michael Barrett. “You won’t see what you see here anywhere else.” What the insiders are saying: “Every concert is a highlight,” boasts Barrett. “There is no filler.” And while you may not recognize all of the names on the program, you may want to take note. “Everyone is a superstar, even if it’s a superstar of tomorrow,” he adds. Catch performances from greats such as Wynton Marsalis (Aug. 2) and Paquito D’Rivera (July 13). Also, don’t miss the second and final year of the special Sonidos Latinos program, which focuses on the music of Latin America.

149 Girdle Ridge Rd.

, Katonah. 914-232-5035 or www.caramoor.org



June 12-August 17

What better way to spend a summer eve than on a 180-acre historic estate overlooking the Hudson River, sipping wine and noshing on fresh hors d’oeuvres that have been carefully prepared by a local chef using vegetables plucked right out of the garden? Can’t think of one? Then find your way to Locust Grove for Sunset Sensations. First, take a tour with a resident horticulturist and view the heritage gardens, an unusual museum exhibit featuring different vegetable gardens representative of the agricultural times of the estate’s former residents. Following the tour, as the sun sets over the river, take part in an informal wine pairing presentation — featuring wines from Arlington Wines — and a cooking demonstration showcasing a different cuisinier each week (June 12th marks the start of the event, featuring Chef Josh Kroner from Rhinebeck’s Terrapin). What the insiders are saying: Sunset Sensations is not to be missed, with chefs from the Artist’s Palate, Main Course, and Lola’s already slated to participate. Also, catch some of the free concerts staged on the site’s lovely veranda as part of their Summer Lawn Concert Series (Sunday afternoons from June 22-Aug. 17). The diverse lineup includes performances by the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers — a group of high school students who play everything from Cape Breton to Celtic — and the Saints of Swing, featuring a guest performance from Rene Bailey, a sultry songstress who has performed with the likes of Louis Armstrong and B.B. King. Sunset Sensations, every second Thursday of the month from June 12-Nov. 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m. 2683 South Rd., Poughkeepsie. 845-454-4500 or www.lgny.org



June 27-August 3

Big things are in the works down on the Vassar College campus yet again as Powerhouse Theater readies its exciting summer season. True to its reputation for debuting works by some of the best and brightest in the theater arts, Powerhouse’s 2008 program is jam-packed with fresh work from groundbreaking artists, including Eve Ensler (Vagina Monologues), Dael Orlandersmith (Yellowman), and Alan Zweibel (700 Sundays). This year’s six-week program features a full production of 1+1 (dates TBA), the latest from actor and playwright Eric Bogosian. Directed by award-winning director Mark Brokaw (Cry-Baby), 1+1 is an intense three-character piece set in present-day Los Angeles and loaded with Bogosian’s characteristically raw, provocative language. Also making its debut: Nero, a full-length musical from Tony Award-winning duo Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater (Spring Awakening). What the insiders are saying: “The work the apprentice company is doing is really spectacular,” says Edward Cheetham, Powerhouse’s producing director. Powerhouse’s Apprentice Program will put on free outdoor performances of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona and Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan. Call or visit the Web site for complete schedule information. Vassar College campus. 124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie. 845-437-7235/5599 or http://powerhouse.vassar.edu  



July 4-August 17

While Fisher Center Director Tambra Dillon readily admits her unwavering enthusiasm for the SummerScape season in general, she swears this year is different: “I think every year will be the best yet, but this year is.” In keeping with tradition, this summer’s music festival focuses on work composed — or inspired — by Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev. And according to Dillon you will be impressed — whether you’re going to a single event or delving in to the whole program. Kicking things off on July 4th is an epic world premiere of the ballet Romeo & Juliet, danced to Prokofiev’s never-before-heard original score, performed by the American Symphony Orchestra. Choreographed by Mark Morris, the historic performance is the first SummerScape commission to travel internationally; the production will go to London in the fall. Other highlights include the U.S. premiere of Harnasie; Karol Szymanowski’s opera, King Roger; family fun in the Spiegeltent with a new arrangement of Peter and the Wolf; Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vànya starring Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent); and many more. What the insiders are saying: Catch the production of George and Ira Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing, a raucous political satire from 1931. “It’s serendipity to be presenting this as we’re in an election year,” says Dillon, noting that Prokofiev was “smitten” with Broadway musicals. Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson. 845-758-7900 or www.fishercenter.bard.edu


Rosendale Street Festival

July 19-20

This year is the Rosendale Street Festival’s 30th anniversary and they’ll be gearing up especially for the occasion. The two-day event features 74 bands (in every imaginable genre) on five stages and over 150 juried vendors peddling food, beer, and fine handmade crafts. Charlie Knicely, festival chairperson, emphasizes they don’t just let anyone through the gates. “Our vendors are more arts-oriented than flea market,” he jokes. What the insiders are saying: Knicely is proud that this year the street fest has teamed up with Operation Music Aid, a Connecticut charity that raises money to buy musical instruments and put them in the hands of wounded servicemen and women. All proceeds from the festival’s raffle (prizes include a Michael Tobias bass and a Stuart Spector guitar) and various other earnings will go to the cause. “The festival is trying to give them more exposure, get them out there,” says Knicely. “It’s totally nonpartisan — it’s not in support of a war, but of the boys and girls out there doing it.” Fri. 12-10 p.m., Sat. 12-6 p.m. Rosendale. www.rosendalestreetfestival.com or www.operationmusicaid.org



August 2

What sets the Wall Street Jazz Festival apart from other jazz fests? The one-day, rain-or-shine event, founded by jazz pianist Peggy Stern and jazz appreciator John Bilotti, is unique in that it only features bands led by women (although you will see men performing). Bring some lawn chairs and a picnic and join hundreds of other Valley jazz fans for a one-of-a-kind musical evening. What the insiders are saying: In addition to this year’s exciting new acts, including the Lee Shaw Trio and Rebecca Coupe Franks Band, the festival will host free jazz appreciation workshops, open to people of all ages, throughout the Kingston area on Sunday. 5-11 p.m. Wall and North Front Streets, Kingston. www.wallstreetjazzfestival.com



August 15-17

Now in its fourth succulent year, the Hudson Valley RibFest is “really becoming a destination event,” according to organizer Claire Constantino from the Highland Rotary Club. “People are really into ribs!” With attendance numbering over 12,000 last year — which was triple that of the first year — this family-friendly event features three days of delicious food, fun, and good old-fashioned competition. What the insiders are saying: In addition to the famous cook-offs (grilling on Saturday and BBQ on Sunday), kids’ games, live music, and barbecue fare from local vendors, RibFest will offer more cooking demos, so you can learn to grill like a pro in your own backyard. Ulster County Fairgrounds.

Libertyville Rd.

, New Paltz. 845-306-4381 or www.hudsonvalleyribfest.org 




Our Digital Partners

Learn how to become a digital partner ...

Our Excellence in Nursing Awards take place on May 1!

Our Best of Hudson Valley ballot is open through March 31!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.