The Rondout Valley is Ulster County’s agricultural heartland, and arguably the epicenter of the mid-Hudson’s explosion of interest over the past few decades in farm-to-table cuisine and sustainable agriculture. The organization pulling all the threads of that movement together on a local basis in the Rondout Valley Growers’ Association (RVGA), which has recently been prioritizing putting healthier, locally grown foods in school cafeterias, food pantries and soup kitchens.
Each year about this time, RVGA throws a humongous musical party for farmers and foodies called the Harvest Hoedown & Local Food Barbecue. There’s an awesome locally sourced meal, square, contra and swing dancing with a hot bluegrass band, an awards ceremony and plenty of fun activities for kids, like painting a pumpkin, sitting on a tractor or making a racecar out of a squash and racing it in the Zucchini 500.
This year’s Harvest Hoedown takes place at Tongore Park in Marbletown on Saturday, September 26 from 3 to 9 p.m., rain or shine. Dinner will be served from 5 to 7 p.m.; afterwards, the Shoe String Band will propel the dancers and fiddler Liz Slade will be the caller. According to RVGA executive director Deborah Meyer DeWan, awards will be presented this year to “Nicci Cagan, as the community sparkplug for Farm to School; Family of Woodstock for their incredible leadership in helping us bring fresh food from Rondout Valley farms to local food pantries; and Elizabeth Ryan for her tireless efforts to save Stone Ridge Orchard and her role as a pioneering woman in agriculture.”
Advance tickets to the Hoedown, which is a major annual fundraiser for RVGA, cost $25 per adult and $5 for children aged 6 to 12; kids under 6 years get in free. They can be purchased online at www.rondoutvalleygrowers.org or in person at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Davenport Farms, the Saunderskill Market, Kelder’s Farm, Barthel’s Farm Market, the Bywater Bistro, Graze Farm to Table and Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits.
Can’t afford the price of admission, or just want to help the cause? Volunteer for three or more hours and receive one complimentary admission to the event. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and put “RVGA volunteer” in the subject line or call RVGA at (845) 626-1532 if you’d like to help out before, during or after the event.