I really enjoy my trips to the Hudson River Valley to attend weekend events. When I read about the series of County Fairs that will be held during August upstate, I wanted to start visiting them. I have been to the Dutchess County Fair for many years, but I never ventured outside that fair. I have never really explored Ulster County, so I decided to head upstate and visit the Uster County Fair for the afternoon. It was an eye opener.
I found that the Ulster County Fair was about half the size of the Dutchess County Fair across the river. The fairgrounds are smaller than Dutchess County’s so you could tour the fair much quicker. There were lots to do at the fairgrounds and I explored the whole fair over the next three hours.
I first visited the Volunteer Fire Museum and the Police Museum that are only open when the fair is open. The Police Museum was stocked with equipment that law enforcement has used over the last hundred years that includes batons, handcuffs and how a police station works. They even had a small jail display. The Volunteer Fire Museum was stocked with equipment that volunteer fire departments had donated, pictures and patches of local departments and like The Police Museum staffed by volunteers from the departments who could describe the objects in the museum and what their position was in their departments.
It was a nice to talk to other volunteer fire fighters who face the issues we all face, changing ranks in the volunteers with a generation gap and trying to recruit new fire fighters. All of us still have the pride of being a fire fighter but the role seems to be changing. The museum reflected that with new ways of firefighting are being practiced but keeping the traditions alive. Both museums should be a bit more updated.
After I left the museums, I toured the 4H displays. There were barn pens filled with cows, horses, rabbits, pigs and chickens. The 4H members were taking care of their animals, washing them and feeding them and the animals seemed to know that they were on display. Some of them looked like they were showing off by the way they moved around in their pens. The kids showed their pride by the way they cared for them. The way they cleaned and brushed them and cared for their pens.
What I liked about the 4H stand was their food station. They had the most reasonable food at the fair. Their hot dogs were $2.00, their sodas were $1.00, and their milkshakes were $5.00 as opposed to the higher prices of the food vendors. I had a vanilla shake that the kids made, and I will tell you that there is nothing better than a fresh vanilla shake made with fresh milk and fresh ice cream made from their cows. I really enjoyed it.
I looked around at the food vendors and I could not believe the prices. Everything was so expensive. The hamburgers pulled pork sandwiches and cheesesteaks were between $12.00 to $15.00 and I thought that was too high. The zeppole and fried dough not only were $8.00 for six small zeppole but all the fried foods were sitting under heat lamps. If there were seventy or eighty people at the fair that afternoon, it was a lot. There was no reason for them to cook so much food in advance. I stopped at one pizza stand and had a slice of pizza for $6.00 and a Coke for $3.00 and it was a lot for a slice of pizza with no flavor.
I walked around all the booths that were selling local wares and there were people selling arts and crafts and food items. There were some interesting food stuffs like local honey, jellies, syrups and baked items but again they priced them so high that it was cheaper to buy them in a grocery store. Maple syrup should not be $14.00 for a small jar. I think these vendors priced out the customers that were coming to the fair.
I walked around the amusement area of the fair and that got busier by the end of the afternoon as families started to arrive during the early evening. As I walked around the rides, more and more kids were on the rides. Most of the rides were geared towards small children and I could see the teenagers watching their younger siblings enjoying themselves. They would go off with their friends as soon as the parents returned.
The Ulster County Fair Amusement area
After I had visited all the attractions, amusement areas and walked around the fair about four times, I ventured out of the fair to get dinner. The options were just too expensive, and the selection was not very good. I decided to head into downtown New Platz for dinner.
As I was leaving at 6:00pm, the crowds really started to come in as the entertainment was going to start at 8:00pm. Singer Allie Colleen was headlining that night and it looked like she was going to have a big crowd. What I did not realize until later is that she is Garth Brook’s daughter and a noted Country music singer.
Singer Allie Colleen
Trying to leave the fair was an experience as the traffic started to increase and you had to leave the way you came in. I could not believe that the entrance was the exit as well.
The funny part of the Ulster County Fair Grounds is that it is in the middle of farmland as opposed to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds that are on the edge of Rhinebeck. Two different fairs with two different vibes. I really felt that I was among the locals at this fair whereas the Dutchess County Fair gets people from the City and from New Jersey as well. I really did feel like a visitor.
I parked up in Downtown New Platz and have to admit that it has not changed much since my first visit during Christmas of 2014. Parts of the downtown have attracted more expensive restaurants and there are some newer stores but the downtown still has that college vibe to it with a ‘New Age’ feel. It’s like a bigger version of Woodstock.
Downtown New Paltz, NY
I walked all around the downtown area to see all the new places to eat and shop. I got into the downtown just before things started to close. Like many other towns, New Paltz has taken a hit in their businesses when the SUNY Campus closed but it looks like new businesses are starting to open in their place. What surprised me was the prices for meals. These restaurants were not catering to the artists or the college students but more to out-of-town visitors. I have this thing about $34.00 entrees in a college town.
I went to McGillicuddy’s restaurant at 84 Main Street for dinner that night. I had been there many times before when visiting New Paltz and I love the college vibe of the place. Plus, you can watch the games on the big screen TVs.
McGillicuddy’s at 84 Main Street
I ordered one of their Original Hamburgers with a side of Waffle fries and I have to tell you it was one of the best burgers that I had had in a long time. Their burgers are large and juicy and have a wonderful beefy taste (order it medium well to get a well-done burger) and it was accompanied by a large portion of waffle fries ($12.95). Everything was delicious and the service was great.
The burger and fries were delicious
What is nice about New Paltz is that it is on the opposite side of the river from all the places I normally visit like Rhinebeck and Red Hook and once out of town, you immediately get to the New York Thruway, and I was home in just over an hour.
It was a nice experience and fun visiting the fair. Now off to visit the Dutchess County Fair in two weeks!
My day at the Dutchess County Fair:
Day One Hundred and Nineteen-Visiting the Dutchess County Fair:
Places to Visit:
The Ulster County Fair (Every August)
Ulster County Fairgrounds
249 Libertyville Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
Open: The Fair is every August but check their website for other events
Places to Eat:
84 Main Street
New Paltz, NY 12561
Open: Sunday 12:00pm-12:00am/Monday-Thursday 3:00pm-12:00pm/Friday 3:00pm-4:00am/Saturday 12:00pm-4:00am
My review on TripAdvisor: