“A full flavor of all that New Paltz has to offer”: That’s how Kati Haynes, marketing director for the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce (NPRCC), characterizes one of the town’s best-loved annual events, which returns for the 27th time on Sunday, September 17. With the late summer and early autumn harvests come many a food festival to our region, whether they be devoted to sweet corn, huckleberries, apples, pumpkins, pickles or some other type of local product. But the genius of the Taste of New Paltz is that it gathers all of the bounty of the season in one place — the Ulster County Fairgrounds – to afford residents and visitors a self-indulgent day of sampling the specialties of many different area restaurants.
It’s much more than a culinary event, though. “The concept born in 1990 was really a food festival,” recalls NPRCC executive director Kathy Prizzia. “But now it’s a taste of everything New Paltz — not just food and wine. With the craft beverage boom happening, we’re happy to be able to showcase that.” Indeed, this year Highland-based 1857 Spirits is joining Whitecliff and Baldwin Vineyards, nine breweries and a cidery on the beverage end of the spectrum of offerings. “She has really good vodka,” notes Haynes.
“We’re trying to engage the local community to introduce new businesses — to have people try things without committing to a full meal,” Prizzia explains. New on the list of food vendors this year are Essie’s Restaurant and Spacey Tracy’s Gourmet and Deep-Fried Pickles Food Truck. Also on hand with sample-sized plates of tasty treats at $3 and $5 each will be La Cabanita, Noshi’s Coney Island, Schatzi’s Pub & Bier Garden, Jamaica Choice, Mohonk Mountain House, Village Pizza and Tantillo’s Farm Market.
More than 4,000 people attended the Taste of New Paltz last year, according to Prizzia, most of them hailing from Ulster, Dutchess and Westchester Counties. But one thing that has changed a lot since the festival’s early years is that you no longer need to get there early to avoid finding that vendors have already run out of that dish you wanted to sample. “We try to work with the restaurants to be well-prepared and have enough throughout the day,” Prizzia says. The Chamber also hosts workshops for vendors to be trained by the Ulster County Department of Health in best practices for preparing and serving food in a fairground setting.
Taste of New Paltz also spotlights the offerings of non-food-related local businesses, and the Business Expo tent is the place to go to submit your entry for the Great Giveaway raffle. You get a free raffle ticket with your price of admission, and some lucky person’s name will be announced at 4 p.m. as the winner of a huge basket of goodies and gift certificates donated by local businesses. The site will host a Wellness Expo and a crafts vendor tent as well.
Prizzia emphasizes that the Taste is “a true family-friendly community event.” Youngsters get in for free if they’re age 12 or under, and they’ll have plenty to do: free face-painting by Bruderhof members; live storytelling from Story Studio; free IDs provided by the Adonai Masonic Lodge; Goodnow Farms’ petting zoo, pony rides and hayrides; and dog adoption through Take Me Home Pet Rescue. You have to go through a screening process before your pet of choice will be released to you, but, says Haynes, “Everyone loves holding puppies.”
Kids will enjoy the martial arts demonstrations being put on by the New Paltz Karate Academy at 12:30 and 2:45 p.m. Other entertainment will include a LuLaRoe Fashion Show at 12:45 p.m. and lots of live music: The Paul Green Rock Academy performs at 11 a.m., Soulia & the Sultans come on at 1 p.m., and New Paltz Rock presents Ashes of Phoenix at 3 p.m. and Daily Special at 4:15.
This year’s Taste of New Paltz sponsors include SUNY New Paltz, Naccarato Insurance, Gilday Creative, JTS Design, Stenger, Roberts, Davis & Diamond, LLP, the Accent Financial Group, the Sparrow’s Nest, G. Kontos Roofing, Craft New York and Luminary Media.
Taste of New Paltz 2017 runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Sunday, September 17. Admission at the gate costs $5; discounted wristbands cost $3 in advance, if you purchase them by 4 p.m. on Friday, September 15 at the NPRCC headquarters at 259 Main Street, by calling (845) 255-0243 or visiting www.tasteofnewpaltz.com. Parking is free across the street from the Fairgrounds, which are located at 249 Libertyville Road on the west bank of the Wallkill River.