Situated just 90 minutes north of Manhattan in the Catskills of Upstate New York, Ulster County is an eclectic, picturesque collection of towns and hamlets with histories dating back to before the Revolution—Kingston was actually New York’s first capital, and the architectural remains of that era can still be witnessed today.
Ulster County loves a festival, and fall is rich with them. From food and music to cultural heritage and agritourism showcases, here are six fall festivals worth the commute this season.
Some of the Hudson Valley’s most impressive food and drink will be on glorious display at the 27th annual Taste of New Paltz, during which the best chefs, farmers, brewers, and vintners will gather at the Ulster County Fairgrounds to share their mouth-watering creations—from freshly harvested produce to gourmet delicacies, and everything in between (including pizza, beer, and cupcakes.) Locally crafted art, jewelry, and gifts will also be for sale, while live music and a litany of family-friendly games and events will entertain the little ones for hours. This event takes place on September 17. 249 Libertyville Rd., New Paltz, 845-255-0243
In the late 19th Century, millions of Italians emigrated to the United States, passing through Ellis Island in search of a new life and renewed economic opportunity. Many of them made their homes in Kingston and the surrounding communities; today, more than 35,000 Italian-Americans reside in Ulster County. The Ulster County Italian American Foundation was established to reflect and preserve the interests and culture of these Americans, and on October 8, the Foundation will host the 10th annual Italian Festival on the Kingston waterfront. The all-day family-friendly event will feature Italian foods, beverages, products, music, and games. This event takes place on October 8. 237 Fair St., Kingston, 845-338-9111
Woodstock is well-known for its music legacy and funky art colonies, but the Woodstock Film Festival is a draw all its own. The non-profit festival takes place across Ulster County, with premieres, panels, and special events happening in Rhinebeck, Kingston, Rosendale, Saugerties, and, of course, Woodstock. The scrappy, adventurous programming attracts filmmakers, actors, industry executives, and cinephiles alike, and has earned the reputation of being “A true American maverick among fests,” according to IndieWire. Susan Sarandon is this year’s recipient of the Festival’s honorary Maverick Award. This festival will take place from October 11-15. Multiple Locations, 845-679-4265
With 11,000 square feet of space showcasing operating layouts, dealer and vendor tables, model train exhibits, toy train raffles, and more, this biannual event is the largest model train and hobby show in Ulster County. Bust out the conductor’s hat and gather the family for a day of food, fun, and trains. The show takes place on October 29. Murphy Midtown Center, 467 Broadway, Kingston, 845-616-0931
Pickle lovers unite—the Rosendale Pickle Festival brings brining enthusiasts together in a showcase of just how diverse the ancient fermentation process can be—as any brinehead will tell you, pickling extends far beyond the traditional cucumber, from okra to eggs and green beans to cabbage. At the Rosendale festival, home picklers will have a chance to compete for glory, while spectators can participate in a pickle eating contest. The festival takes places on November 19. Rosendale Recreation Center, 1055 Route 32 S., Rosendale, 845-204-8827
Run with the turkeys! This annual 5k run held Thanksgiving morning benefits New Paltz’s Food Pantry and Crisis Services. Participation t-shirts and prizes for best costumes will be awarded to kids and adults alike, and finish line photos will be available for upload at no cost. As much of a tradition as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, this is a great way to spend the holiday morning with the family while helping those less fortunate. This run takes place on November 23. 845-255-7957
These festivals are just the tip of the iceberg. Visit ulstercountyalive.com to find a complete list of festivals and start planning your weekend getaway today.