In summertime, the Hudson Valley is jam-packed with outdoor food, wine and (most recently) beer festivals. But it’s not until the heat breaks in mid-September that one of the most venerable and best-attended of those comes around: Taste of New Paltz, returning this Sunday to the Ulster County Fairgrounds for its 26th annual outing. Imagine a smörgåsbord, a dim sum restaurant and a tapas bar all rolled into one heady late-summer afternoon, with live music and a fabulous view of the Shawangunk Ridge, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what the Taste is like.
This event is the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce’s major fundraiser of the year, and more than a quarter-century of experience at hosting it has taught a thing or two to both the organizers and the food and drink providers. Long-gone are the days when late arrivals could find almost nothing left to sample; but it’s still the wisest policy to show up as early as practical to enjoy the best selection of tastes. Word gets around quickly here as to what are this year’s don’t-miss tidbits!
The Taste is meant to showcase the outstanding culinary and beverage offerings from restaurants, bakeries, caterers, farm markets, microbrewers and wineries from the area immediately surrounding New Paltz.
It’s a fun day out for locals as well, of course. Each of the participating food and beverage venues offers $2 and $3 “tastes,” and it only costs $5 per adult to get in at the gate – $3 if you order your wristband from the Chamber no later than Friday. That means that, for less than the price of a fancy restaurant dinner, you get to browse your way around the festival tents for hours, mixing and matching world cuisines any way you like. And with so many choices, you never have to worry about whether you’re getting a balanced meal – except in terms of only having two hands to juggle a small plate, a fork and a glass!
Kids under age 12 get in free, and there are lots of activities targeted to their enjoyment. Live entertainment for this year will include a fashion show, a karate demonstration, illusionist Ryan Dutcher and music by the Caesar Band, Soulia & the Sultans and New Paltz Rock.
The Taste of New Paltz goes on from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 18. To purchase your wristband ahead of time, visit the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce office at 257 Main Street in New Paltz, call (845) 255-0243 or visit www.tasteofnewpaltz.com. The website offers a full listing of the providers of provender, plus details on how to participate in a brand-new activity for grownups only: the Rare Beer & Cider Experience, with tasting times at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. The Ulster County Fairgrounds are located at 249 Libertyville Road, on the west bank of the Wallkill River not far outside of downtown New Paltz.