Taste of New Paltz returns to Ulster County Fairgrounds on Sunday

Hurd’s Family Farm booth at a previous Taste (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Hurd’s Family Farm booth at a previous Taste (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Summer has wound down in the Hudson Valley, but Labor Day doesn’t spell the end of the festival season by any means. This Sunday, September 15, brings in the much-anticipated Taste of New Paltz: that always-fun gathering of foodies from all over to the big white tents at the Ulster County Fairgrounds, where you can hand in a ticket for a sample of the specialty dish of any of dozens of local eateries.

In China they call it dim sum; in Spain they call it tapas. But by any name, it’s a brilliant concept, this assembling of a satisfying and diverse meal from a long list of tasty offerings from many different styles of cuisine. Follow your nose down a meandering path of enticing aromas, tasting here and tasting there. After all, if you find something so delectable that one tiny plate just isn’t enough, you can always go back for seconds – all at an affordable cost of $2 to $3 per sample.

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This will be Taste of New Paltz’s 23rd year, with an estimated seven to eight thousand visitors from near and far expected to make the annual gustatory pilgrimage. The array of participating restaurants varies from year to year, but repeat visitors know that they will always have plenty of culinary riches from which to choose. Restaurants and farm markets supplying food this year will include the Adirondack Creamery, Asian Fusion, Curbside Cuisine, Gary’s Pickles, Gomen Kudasai, Jamaica Choice, the Main Course, Mexicali Blue, Mohonk Mountain House, Moxie Cupcake, Neko Sushi, Pasquale’s, P & G’s, the Ship Lantern Inn, the Thayer Hotel, Hurd’s Family Farm and Tantillo’s Farm Market.

Taste veterans also know to arrive early, if possible. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but menu items in high demand have been known to run out well before closing time, so consider yourself warned!

What’s new this year? “We’re going to have a Craft Beer Garden that’ll include our local brews from the Gilded Otter,” promises Helen Gutfreund, director of marketing and communications at the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event. “Our larger distributor this year is the Craft Beer Guild, which will offering several regional craft beers on tap, including Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada and Narragansett.” In addition to full mugs, “There’ll also be tasting portions.”

“Because we’re featuring craft beers, we’re going to be doing food pairing,” Gutfreund continues. “Many vendors will have suggestions for what beers go well with the food they’re serving.” Not a beer-fancier? Wines will also be available from two Shawangunk Wine Trail wineries: Robibero Vineyard and Whitecliff Vineyard.

Another big emphasis this year is on shrinking the Taste’s carbon footprint. “We’re trying to build our levels of sustainability by providing renewable and compostable utensils, and Waste Management is providing recycling, trash and composting services,” Gutfreund explains. “If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, put it in the compost bin with your bright-green fork and you’re good to go.” “Waste runners” will collect food-prep scraps and leftovers from vendors during and after the event, to be sorted, hauled to the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency in Kingston and turned into nutrient-rich compost.

Your $10 admission fee to the Taste of New Paltz buys you more than just the right to spend more money for food and drink tickets. There will be a classic car and motorcycle show, a Business Expo, an Antiques Expo, a Crafts Expo, a Wellness and Recreation Expo and plenty of activities for kids. Three bands will be performing: The Pleasers go on at 11 a.m., Taina Asili y la Banda Rebelde starting at 12:30 and local faves the Big Takeover at 3. In between the mainstage acts, there will be live karate, fitness, massage and bodyworking demonstrations.

To purchase tickets in advance, visit the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce offices at 257 Main Street or Fox & Hound Wine and Spirits in the New Paltz Plaza; or just pick them up at the Fairgrounds gate on the day of the event. Parking is free. As with all major events at the Fairgrounds, you may find traffic moving more quickly if you travel northbound from Gardiner on Libertyville Road, rather than southbound from New Paltz.

Taste of New Paltz, Sunday, September 15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., $10, Ulster County Fairgrounds, 249 Libertyville Road, New Paltz; (845) 255-0243.