It’s part of what makes September so sweet: the 22nd annual Taste of New Paltz slated for the Ulster County Fairgrounds on Sunday Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. What started out as a small venue sponsored by the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce to highlight some of the great restaurants, wineries, farm markets and specialty shops in the greater New Paltz region has blossomed into a full-day affair with hundreds of vendors, over 6,000 attendees and opportunities not only to “taste” local food and beverages but also to sample the work of local craftsmen, businesses, services, health and wellness venues and practitioners and to enjoy live music and a kids’ expo in the open fields and barns, with a spectacular view of the Shawangunk Mountains as a backdrop.
“We have some exciting new things this year as well as some of our most popular returning vendors,” said Janet Nurre, who will become the director of communications and marketing for the New Paltz Chamber this week.
In terms of the palate, there are three new restaurants/businesses coming to the Taste, including Il Gallo Giallo, who recently purchased 36 Main Street in downtown New Paltz. “We also have the Adirondack Creamery coming, who make and package their own fresh ice cream out of Kingston and has been selling it in local farm markets and supermarkets and plans to go nationwide,” said Nurre. Another newcomer to the Taste is the Thayer Hotel from West Point and its restaurant.
What will have true locals excited is that P&G’s Bar and Restaurant, a New Paltz anchor, has rejoined the Taste this year. “They had taken a break for a few years because September is such a busy month, but we’re ecstatic that P&G’s will be making a triumphant return,” said Nurre.
Some of the returning favorites include Mohonk Mountain House, Neko Sushi, the Main Course, the Ship’s Lantern Inn, the Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa and, in its second year, the Toad Holly Pub of Tillson. As New Paltz could rival most major cities for having the most bars and pizzerias per square block, pizza-lovers will not be disappointed, as they will have Pasquale’s and Rino’s to choose from. As for farm markets — a treasured ecotourism anchor, as well as a daily destination spot for locally grown fresh produce lovers — the Chamber is happy to have Hurd’s Family Farm returning, as well as Wright’s Farm and Tantillo’s Farm.
One of the growing components of the Taste is the Business Expo. “That has really become a nice center piece of the Taste, and showcases a broad range of local businesses and services with everything from utility companies to cabinetmakers and financial institutions and advisors,” said Nurre. Joining the Business Expo this year will be the melodious New Yorkers Barbershop Chorus, which performs old-time favorite barbershop quartet renditions. The Business Expo is also the place where Taste attendees can place their raffle ticket (given when they enter the gates) into a barrel and win a variety of prizes, including gift certificates, massages, a furnace cleaning and dozens more.
Another growing portion of the Taste is the Wellness and Recreation Expo that is host to local fitness clubs, massage therapists, nutritionists, chiropractors, karate schools and more. Taste “tickets” can be used here to get an adjustment or a five-minute massage, along with other wellness treats.
Kids can enjoy crafts, face-painting, inflatable rides, fingerprinting and IDs at the Kids’ Expo, and everyone can dance and sway to the non-stop live music that takes place centerstage from the time the fair opens until it closes. This year guitarist Peter Morrison will be opening the show, followed by the Bernstein Bard Trio, and ending with the Big Joe Fitz Band, who play blues, jazz, funk and more.
“The great thing about this event is that we get to show folks what we have here, right in our community. It’s like people who lived their entire life in New York City and have never visited the Empire State Building. Well, there are many of us who have never seen or experienced the wide variety of amazing places, restaurants, galleries that people travel from all over the world to see, and it’s literally in our backyard. So the Taste highlights the amazing flavor of the region to visitors, but also opens our eyes to what incredible things are right around the corner,” she said.
Thanks to the raffle tickets, which include addresses, the Chamber can get a decent grasp on where people are coming from. Out of the 6,000 people who visited the Taste of New Paltz last year, “Approximately 65 to 70 percent are local and the rest from the tri-state region,” Nurre said.
The entry cost to the Taste is $5 if you prepurchase your ticket at the Chamber offices on 257 Main Street or through its website at www.newpaltzchamber.org. There is also a prepurchase package that includes the entry fee, a tee-shirt and ten Taste tickets for $20, which is valued at $25. Entry at the door is $7 a pop, but as Nurre noted, “When you buy your tickets in advance, you don’t have to wait on line once you get there, and you save some money.”
This is a rain-or-shine event, but according to Nurre, “In the last 21 years we’ve never had rain on the day of the Taste. I hope I didn’t just jinx it,” she said with a laugh.