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The Cream of the Crop 

click to enlarge HILLARY HARVEY
  • Hillary Harvey

In autumn, communities are teeming with celebrations of the harvest. Whether beer, wine, cheese, chocolate, or baked goods, our region is well known for its abundance of agricultural producers and culinary artisans. Make like the black bear (who can feed up to 20 hours per day preparing for winter) and take advantage of the smorgasbord provided by one of this year’s many food and drink festivals.

Saratoga Wine and Food Festival

Do you worship Dionysus? Get in touch with your inner wine god and revel in three days of premium food and wine tasting at the Saratoga Wine and Food Festival. On Thursday, September 6, participating restaurants serve dinners paired with special wine selections, like the French-tinged regional cuisine of Sargo’s complemented by wines from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap winery. Besides the live music, food, and rare wine, Friday’s portion of the festival includes some selections no ancient ever got the chance to see—there’s a martini bar, a silent auction, and even wine-flavored ice creams, which come in flavors like peach white zinfandel and red raspberry chardonnay. Saturday’s Grand Tasting is the culmination of the event, with educational seminars by notable personalities of the food and wine industry and a demonstration by Chris Prosperi, chef at Metro Bis Restaurant of Simsbury, Connecticut, known for his innovative take on American bistro fare. Twenty restaurants will be preparing “palate-teasers,” and there will be one last opportunity to bid on luxuries, wine, and art at another silent auction.

Thursday, September 6, 6:30pm; dinners, $100-120 per person, call for participating locations. Friday, September 7, 7pm; Live on Stage, $150 per person, SPAC Amphitheater. Saturday, September 8, 12pm; Grand Tasting, $75 per person, on SPAC grounds. Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs.

New York’s Capital Region Vegetarian Expo

Meet the anti-meat at the Albany Vegetarian Network’s first annual Capital Region Vegetarian Expo this month. An array of vendors and entertaining, educational presentations illustrate the connection between a healthy lifestyle, awareness of the environment, and animal welfare. Presentations will be given by vegetarian nutrition expert George Eisman, as well as surgeon and heart-health advocate Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, among other vegetarian and vegan activists. Children can visit an educational kid’s corner, or make friends with the miniature horses of a local rescue organization. A range of over 100 vendors includes Little Moon Essentials, an all natural body care company; Cherrybrook Kitchens, purveyors of allergen-free baking mixes; Empire Solar Store, a resource for sustainable living; and Navitas Naturals, proprietors of indigenous, organic powder foods.
Saturday, September 15, 10am-6pm. Admission, parking, and food samples are free. Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway Street, Saratoga Springs. www.nyvegetarianexpo.expo.

Ommefest: Celebrating the Harvest

Ommegang brews up a festivity to toast the harvest with a abundance of food and beer. Catered by Red Lion, the menu consists of deep fried scallops, shrimp, and calamari; vegetable stew made from regional produce, locally produced roasted corn, ham with plum sauce, apple dumplings made from apples of the area, and hot cider from Fly Creek. There will also be live music at this family friendly function and opportunities to get “hoppy” with a tour of the brewery, which specializes in Belgian-style ales.

Saturday, September 15, 12-6pm. Brewery Ommegang, 656 County Highway 33, Cooperstown.

Cooperstown’s Annual Harvest Festival

The Farmers’ Museum has long attracted visitors for its authentic 19th-century charm, Victorian Country Fair, and legendary gypsum Cardiff Giant. This year, as hosts of Cooperstown’s 29th harvest festival, the museum has an array of additional amusements planned beyond the traditional harvest food and crafts, including activities, performances, and agricultural demonstrations. Jim Kimball and Dick Bolt are scheduled to perform the time-honored music of New York, B.F. Harridans will showcase Morris dancing (an English folk dance), the Kilmoreen Training Center is going to give dog agility demonstrations, and the four-legged winners of the Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock Show will walk in the Parade of Champions. Visitors can participate in games and races, horse-drawn wagon and tractor rides, and view demos on food preparation, flax processing, and rope and medicine making. The Wildlife Company is slated to give a one hour program called “Raptors: Hunters of the Sky,” where spectators meet live birds of prey. On Sunday, there will be an antique appraisal for those who pre-register. Across the street, attendees can view the exhibition “Folk Art on Fire,” a collection of 19th-century firefighting memorabilia at the Fenimore Art Museum.

Saturday, September 15, and Sunday, September 16, 10am-5pm. Adults: $11, Seniors over 65: $9.50, children age 7-12: $5, children under 6 and members of the New York State Historical Association: free. The Farmers’ Museum, 5775 State Highway 80/Lake Road, Cooperstown.

Altamont Local Food Festival

At Indian Ladder Farms the renowned makers of apple cider and cider donuts believe local is all the rage—so much so that a festival is dedicated to every regional aspect you can imagine, including food, drink, music, and art. Producers from around the region will be attending to showcase their wares, and visitors can expect to see beekeepers, brewers, vintners, chocolatiers, cheesemakers, bakers, jammakers, weavers, potters, and more. A number of cooking demonstrations are planned; a highlight will be the demo by the chefs of the 74 State hotel restaurant, Marche, who use local produce to create their exciting market fresh menu. Entertainment will be provided by Paul Rosenberg, an old-time fiddler, and by the band College Farm, known for their “agricultural rock” lyrics about Delaware County farm life. Kids can meet Jessica Loy, a children’s author from Delmar, and have books signed or hang out with the cows, sheep, donkeys, pigs, and goats at the petting zoo. Lamas and alpacas have also been invited, and pony and carriage rides will be available too.

Sunday, September 16, 10am-5pm. Indian Ladder Farms, 342 Altamont Road, Altamont.

Capital District Apple Festival & Craft Fair

The largest apple festival in the region, this event is in its 15th year and typically draws over 16,000 visitors. Each day of the event features three hours of music, with performances by the Bluz House Rockers on Saturday and The Refrigerators on Sunday. A large amount of entertainment is devoted to kids: There will be a haunted house, face painting, clowns, pumpkin picking and painting, pony and carriage rides, a rock climbing wall, and a large children’s area with games and amusement rides. Parents will enjoy wine tasting, the farmers’ market, and cooking demonstrations by the American Culinary Federation. More than 150 fine artisans and crafters will display their unique goods. Part of the proceeds from the festival will benefit the WGY-AM Christmas Wish Campaign, which helps support over 100 nonprofit children’s organizations.

Saturday, September 29, 10am-6pm; Sunday, September 30, 10am-5pm. $10, children under 12 free. Altamont Fair Grounds, 129 Grand Street, Altamont.


The Cooperstown Pumpkinfest doesn’t celebrate just any old pumpkin—it honors 700 to 1000 pound behemoths. On Saturday these giants are trucked in to be weighed, with cash prizes for the largest one. Sunday follows up with the Pumpkin Regatta, where hollowed-out pumpkins are manned by corporate sponsors wielding kayak paddles and racing through a course on Otsego Lake. The whole town gets involved with a craft fair, live music, and a decorating contest in local stores.

Saturday, September 29, 10:30am-1pm weigh-in. Doubleday Field Parking Lot; Sunday, September 30, 10am race, Otsego Lake.

Annual Berkshire Harvest Festival

The Berkshire Harvest Festival has been around since 1934—and for good reason. The 73rd annual event maintains its family centered celebration with an assortment of activities for every age group. Kids will delight in the pony rides, pumpkin toss, and hay jump mountain—an eight foot mound of hay they can dive into from a platform. An acrobatic demonstration by local high school cheerleaders is planned, and an eclectic mix of musicians will perform, including the Berkshire Ramblers, headed by WAMC ‘s Alan Chartock, and Moonshine Holler, a group that draws on southern music of the ‘20s and ‘30s playing period instruments like the banjo, fiddle, Hawaiian guitar, and harmonica. Food choices will include local beef, pork, cheese, and produce, and a variety of culturally inspired cuisine—think Indian, Mexican, and Vietnamese, among the local restaurants like Lakota BBQ. Check out handmade items at the craft fair and find treasures like light fixtures, wine glasses, or picture frames at their giant tag sale.

Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7; 10am-5pm. Parking $5, admission is free. Berkshire Botanical Garden, Intersection Routes 102 & 183, Stockbridge, MA.

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