If your philosophy is “More is more” when it comes to old-fashioned fair fun, the 171st Dutchess County Fair is the destination for you and your family. It’s one of the largest and oldest of its kind in New York State, first held at Washington Hollow in 1842, bouncing around for decades and finally settling in at Rhinebeck’s Springbrook Park in 1919. Today that site on Route 9, grown to 170 acres and beautifully landscaped, is known as the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
The gamut of opportunities to be entertained at the six-day Dutchess County Fair is far too wide to detail without using up all the column inches in an entire issue of Almanac Weekly, ranging from rural curiosities like the Husband-Calling Contest to a midway full of high-tech theme park rides that are exciting enough for even the most jaded, iron-stomached teenager. It offers the usual country fair fare, like livestock exhibits and pie competitions and handicraft demonstrations, only lots more of it all and on a grander scale than you’re likely to find anyplace else. There are Dock Diving Dogs as well as the usual Racing Pigs, antique displays and live cooking shows.
Lovers of old-timey music will want to show up on Sunday, August 28, when the Fair plays host to the New York State Fiddle Contest. If you like your country music a little glitzier, head on over to the Grandstand for a roster of big-name performers that this year will include the platinum-selling breakout Nashville stars Parmalee on Wednesday, August 24, touting their soon-to-be-released second album.
The Dutchess County Fair runs from Tuesday to Sunday, August 23 to 28, from 10 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. Daily entry costs $15 general admission, $10 for seniors and military, $50 for a six-day pass and is free for kids under age 12 (rides cost extra); but check the website at https://dutchessfair.com for a variety of special promotional rates on particular dates. You can also find the mind-bogglingly full schedule there.