Since its inception in 1842, the Dutchess County Agricultural Society has promoted and preserved the region’s farming heritage through education, competitions, shows, and involvement in the community. Its oldest and most popular annual event is the Dutchess County Fair, six days of agricultural displays, rides, and vendors and the second largest county fair in New York. From Tuesday, August 19 through Sunday, August 24, the fair will return to Rhinebeck’s Dutchess County Fairgrounds for its 169th year.
The Hudson Valley’s agricultural tradition is still at the center of the event. Twelve large stables house cows, sheep and goats, chickens, and rabbits cared for by the Dutchess County 4-H Club. A number of local businesses will have farming tools on display and for sale. Visitors can look forward to the return of yearly favorites like the Salute to Agriculture & Dairy Birthing Tent, Dairy Cattle Barns, Milk House, and Rosaire’s Racing Pigs. The award-winning Horticulture Building promises to impress avid gardeners once again; its displays and demonstrations take on a “Backyard Paradise” theme this year. Stop in for floral design shows and workshops like “Managing Grab Grass,” “Basics of Planting Bed Maintenance,” and “Design Ideas for Your Yard or Garden.”
The fair boasts some big-name grandstand concerts, too. On Tuesday night, Australian pop sensation Cody Simpson will share the stage with Coco Jones, a young Disney Channel star. Danielle Bradbery, the season four winner of “The Voice,” headlines on Thursday with her third-place contenders, the Swon Brothers. And more seasoned country musicians Randy Houser and Eric Paslay will play Friday night.
As always, enjoy a variety of classic carnival rides by Powers Great American Midways. Take a romantic Ferris wheel ride at sunset, or try out the new Stampede if you’re looking for thrills. The fairgrounds will be teeming with local vendors and caterers. Browse products from Hudson Valley Skin Care, Pure Mountain Olive Oil, Country Cupboards, and handmade items from Firehawk, a Native American craft studio. Sample good eats from fair favorites, like Taste Budd’s specialty chocolates, Amy’s Sweet Treats, Hoffman’s Pennsylvania Dutch funnel cakes, and Spacey Tracy’s deep-fried pickles. And what would a day at the Dutchess County Fair be without one of the 4-H Club’s infamous milkshakes on the way out?
General admission tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and military members with ID, and free for children under 12. Admission will be $7 after 5pm on Tuesday and Thursday. Grandstand tickets are available for advance purchase online. Discount ride tickets (10 rides for $20) and regular adult tickets can also be purchased online or at participating local businesses.