Autumnal weather may be upon us at last, but that doesn’t mean that the time for outdoor food festivals has ended. In fact, harvest time is traditionally what triggers such celebrations. In the millennia before refrigeration, humans had to fatten up on the bounty of nature while they had it at hand, if they wanted to survive the winter. Some surplus could be preserved in a variety of ways, of course, but there’s nothing like fresh food when it’s in season. Now is the time to enjoy the 2019 harvest. Here, in chronological order, are some upcoming festivals that offer the year’s final opportunities to indulge in local produce.
October 5/6, 12/13, 19/20
Saturdays 11 a.m.-6:15 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m.- 5:15 p.m.
Hunter Mountain, 64 Klein Ave., Hunter
This free slopeside event celebrates German culture over four weekends that began in September. Take in sweeping vistas of the Hudson Valley during peak fall foliage and enjoy live German entertainment while sipping selections from dozens of breweries and food vendors. The wearing of lederhosen and dirndls is encouraged.
Each of the weekends in the Oktoberfest has a particular theme. Drivers of 4X4 vehicles can participate in the Colors in the Catskills: Off-Road Edition tour of the mountain on October 5 and 6; polka superstar Jimmy Sturr performs and the Das Laufwerk Eurocar Rally happens on October 12 and 13; and the Wine-Tasting on the Mountain event on October 19-20 features vintages from a wide variety of New York State wineries. That’s also the last weekend this season that you can view the splendor of Catskills autumn foliage from the Skyride.
Heart of the Hudson Valley Bounty Festival
Saturday, October 5 (rain date: Oct. 6), 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Town of Marlborough
From A to Z, apples to zucchini, this festival showcases the plethora of produce grown in the Hudson Valley. Aside from an extensive farmers’ market, this event will also feature a flea market, kids’ bounce house, craft vendors, live music, cooking contests and demonstrations. Admission is free.
Saturday, October 5, 1-5 p.m.
Craft: Beer, Spirits & Food Festival
Saturday, October 12, 1-5 p.m.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
200 Hurd Rd., Bethel
Bethel Woods’ eighth annual Wine Festival on October 5 will feature more than 30 regional wineries from around the Hudson Valley and Finger Lake regions. Guests can also enjoy live music from Kat Wright as well as the Big Takeover, plus a food court to satisfy all cravings. General admission tickets, $30, include unlimited sampling and a complimentary tasting glass. Designated Driver tickets, $15, include admission to both the Festival and the Museum at Bethel Woods. VIP tickets, $70, include early access at noon, a six-course food-and-wine-pairing event in the Event Gallery, free admission to the Museum, a tasting glass and access to an exclusive lounge area. Additional offerings that day include a Paint & Sip experience and a Vintage Run Half-Marathon and 5K.
The Craft: Beer, Spirits & Food Festival returns on October 12 with offerings that include beer, spirits, cider and mead, plus food trucks and a craft market. Live music will be provided by Andy Frasco & the UN as well as Big Something. General admission to the festival, $45, includes a commemorative glass and unlimited tastings. Designated Driver tickets, $20, include admission to the festival and the Museum at Bethel Woods. VIP tickets, $85, include early at noon, a private lounge, an exclusive dining-and-tasting session, a larger commemorative tasting glass, a complimentary gift plus admission to the Museum.
A combination ticket for both events is being offered for the first time this year. All prices go up by $5 during the week leading up to each festival. To purchase in advance or to learn more, visit www.bethelwoodscenter.org.
Sunday, October 13, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Rondout waterfront, Kingston
“Sustain Traditions” is the motto of the Ulster County Italian American Foundation (UCIAF), which hosts this festival of Italian cuisine, culture and music every year on the Kingston waterfront: a natural location for an Italian Festival, with over 150,000 Italian Americans in Ulster, Orange and Dutchess Counties.
The day begins with the conferring of the Foundation’s Signore and Signora of the Year and Italian Pride Community Service Awards; 2019’s Signore is Norman Staffing Services president and former Kingston Hospital CEO Tony Marmo, while LabCorp account executive and UCIAF secretary Linda Palladino has been designated the Signora.
After the formalities come the frivolities: live music all day on two stages plus dance troupes and buskers in the streets, storytelling, raffles, pizza-tossing demonstrations, spaghetti-eating contests and copious amounts of food in general. Admission is free; check the website at https://ucitalianamericanfoundation.org to see the full schedule.
Saturday/Sunday, October 19/20
BSP Kingston, 323 Wall St., Kingston
Billed as “two days of fun, activism and food – a fully zero-waste event, to boot!” the third annual VegFest comes to BSP with cooking demonstrations, music, screenings, speakers and dozens of holistic vendors in the daytime and a concert of music, art and poetry by vegan artists, called Kingston Animalia, on Saturday evening. Grown out of the desire to educate people about the environmental impact of their food choices, to end animal cruelty and to encourage plant-based, animal-friendly lifestyles, the Vegfest is a gathering place for food vendors, plant-based and innovative products, organizations working for change, animal rescues and advocates, educational speakers, films, environmentally friendly businesses and art.
Among this year’s celebrity chefs, authors and animal rights advocates giving talks, demos and presentations will be Kevin Archer of Zelda & Bramble, Marcus R. Efford-Singleton of the Global Vegan Café, Suin Park of Forward Roots, Omowale Adewale of Black Vegfest, Roberta Schiff of Hudson Valley Vegans, Sande Nosonowitz of Sundara Vegan and Patrick Battuello of Horseracing Wrongs. Visit the website at www.hvvegfest.org closer to the event date for the full schedule and ticketing info.
Red Hook & the Chocolate Festival
Saturday, November 2, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
7346 South Broadway & vicinity,
Once the home of Walter H. Baker, founder in 1888 of a once-thriving chocolate company, the Village of Red Hook celebrates its sweet heritage with a gathering each fall called Red Hook & the Chocolate Festival, sponsored by the Red Hook Area Chamber of Commerce. Spot the wandering Wonka in this free daylong festival taking place throughout Red Hook’s quaint downtown. Taste chocolate, enjoy live music, compete in the Chocolate Olympics and the Chocolate Wars or watch a cooking demonstration.
Rosendale International Pickle Festival
Sunday, November 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Rosendale Recreation Center, 1055 Rte. 32, Rosendale
Founded by local garden center proprietor/town historian Bill Brooks, his wife Cathy and their friend Eri Yamaguchi, who missed the traditional tsukemono of her homeland, the Rosendale International Pickle Festival started out as a Japanese dinner party for 200. It soon turned into a celebration of all things pickled that attracted about 1,000 people the first year, and by now – its 22nd year – 5,000 or more annually. From the beginning, it has also been a fundraiser that benefits different community projects each year; admission costs $5.
A highlight of the Pickle Festival is always the county-fair-style competition for home-fermented concoctions, but it’s also a fun gathering for those more interested in tasting pickle products than in creating them. Some 100 vendors set up shop both inside the Rec Center and in and around the large tent outside to offer pickled foods of myriad descriptions (including the legendary deep-fried pickles-on-a-stick), other prepared foods, crafts and packaged gourmet products. Expect live music and dancing from many ethnic traditions – as diverse as there are types of pickled foods around the world – for most of the day. Late in the afternoon, the Pickle Triathlon gets underway with a Pickle-Eating Contest, a Pickle-Juice-Drinking Contest and a Pickle-Tossing Contest. ♦