The Dutchess County Fair is finally here, having kicked off yesterday and set to run through Aug. 28. This valley summer staple serves as one of the largest fairs in New York State, featuring everything from horse petting and concerts to antique exhibits and scream-worthy carnival rides—all within its 162-acre grounds. But before you head over and stuff your face with funnel cake, or lose a flip flop on the dizzying circling swings, check out this comprehensive roundup of need-to-know info.
Whether you’re a natural born thrill-seeker, ready to catapult far beyond gravity’s bounds, or looking to keep it tame for your little ones, the DC Fair has something for everyone. Yes, you have your sky-high swing rides and disorienting drop of doom, but there are also plenty of old-school carnival classics. Who doesn’t love a traditional Ferris wheel? And for the little ones, make your way over to kiddie land for games, rides, arts and crafts, and even educational puppet shows. Throughout the site, you’ll find barnyard exhibits featuring sheep, dairy cattle, horses, pigs, and goats, all ready to be pet and fed. There’s even a doggy tent!
Count on the DC Fair to lure some of the coolest performers from the valley and beyond. Alt-pop hitmakers Third Eye Blind headlined opening night, and you can still catch other worthy concerts and shows Wednesday through Sunday from entertainers like Paramalee, Old Dominion, Chase Rice, and kid-appropriate Brigade Action Sports.
A whopping 35 new menu items debuted just this year (have you tried the jalapeno lemonade!?) as part of the fair’s SporkRun and Spork Award contests (judged by, among others, Hudson Valley‘s own Editor, Kate Walsh). But we couldn’t possibly forget about more classic fair fare, like powder-laced funnel-cakes from Sugar Shakers; golden, deep-fried Oreos from Hoffman’s PA; or perfectly popped kettle corn at the JR stand. Whatever you do, don’t leave without picking up a local-farm-fresh milkshake. Yes, the line’s a mile long, but it’s well worth the wait.
Now available for iPhone and Android download, the Dutchess Fair app compiles everything you need for a day full of fair fun. From purchasing tickets to looking up daily events, locating food vendors, and even tracking down the closest bathroom, the app brings this 171-year-old fair into the 21st century. Lost within the 162-acre grounds? The app can guide you from its digital walking map. Before the fair’s opening day, it even hosted a contest, named SporkRun, allowing patrons to vote for their favorite new menu item. The winner? Jalapeno Cheddar Arancini from Captain Hook’s Buried Treasure.
To get the inside scoop on safety dos and don’ts, we chatted with head of fair security, Paul Piastro. “We have everything in place for our patrons’ comfort, between first aid, security, law enforcement, and fire protection services,” he assured. “We feel very prepared to address any event that does come up on site.” Because the fair prohibits patrons from bringing cans or bottles into the event space, Piastro stressed the need for fair-goers to stay hydrated, adding that, “There are dozens of outlets here where you can buy water, and we do have a few water fountains. We have misting stations and plenty of other places to get cool too.” So in other words, be smart, and go have a blast.
Stop by the Dutchess County Fair August 23-28 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.