Where else around here can you stroll the aisles at your leisure admiring so many beautifully groomed, award-worthy cows, pigs, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits, even llamas and alpacas? Then there are the thrill rides, of course; and how can you possibly pass up the annual opportunity to witness tractor pulls, racing pigs and chainsaw sculpture taking place before your very eyes? It’s old-fashioned, it’s wholesome, it’s Americana at a time in American history when we all need a dose of escape into our country’s rural past now and again, just to keep our sanity.
Fans of country music definitely get their money’s worth at the Ulster County Fair, since the live entertainment offerings are included in the pay-one-price admission, along with all the rides and demos that you can possibly absorb in one day. This year’s evening performances will begin with Breakaway, starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2 to allow the fireworks display to start once it gets dark. On Wednesday, August 3, “hat act” Justin Moore will perform one show at 8 p.m., and singer/songwriter Joe Diffie will take the stage at the same hour on Thursday, August 4. Friday, August 5 will feature something a little different: a three-sister act from Australia called the McClymonts, with shows at 4 and 8 p.m. Greg Hanna and his guitar grab the spotlight at 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 6, and Nashville husband-and-wife duo Joey and Rory wrap things up at 3 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 7.
In addition to being the night for the fireworks, the Tuesday opener has another special enticement for the crowds: It’s Carload Night, when as many folks as you can legally squeeze into your vehicle that’s smaller than a bus will get in for a grand total of $40, from 4 p.m. on. The rest of the week, the Fair opens at 10 a.m. and charges $15 per person. Kids age 4 and under get in free at all times, and seniors get in free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. Gates close at 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, at 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday and at 8 p.m. on Sunday. Parking is always free.
Speaking of vehicular access, in the past the Fair has mostly been geared toward people arriving by private car, by handicapped van or by busload from various area day camps. But what about those county residents who depend on public transportation to get around? The Fairgrounds are a bit remote from the regular routes of the Adirondack Trailways and Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) bus lines, so a trip to the County Fair has been just a dream for some folks up to now. In a happy new development, this year, UCAT is providing a special free Fair Bus departing from the New Paltz Park ‘n’ Ride, located on Route 32 North opposite Stewart’s, where it intersects the other local bus routes. On Tuesday through Friday it leaves at 3:15 p.m. and returns at 9:15 p.m.; on Saturday it leaves at 11:45 a.m. and returns at 10:30 p.m.; and on Sunday it leaves at 11:45 a.m. and returns at 8 p.m. For reservations call (845) 334-8458 and ask for Dispatch.
For lots more information on the Ulster County Fair, including schedules for programs, exhibitions, demonstrations and judging, visit www.ulstercountyfair.com/page.asp?pageid=55.