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Experience a True Classic

For six days each August, the bucolic fairgrounds on Route 9 in Rhinebeck plays host to nearly half a million patrons. The second largest county fair in New York State is the showplace for agriculture in Dutchess County. Over 147 acres of finely manicured gardens and grass create the beautiful setting for thousands of farm animals, agricultural exhibits and horticultural displays.

The fairgrounds becomes an entertainment destination where big name talent can be enjoyed, “thrill a minute” excitement can be experienced at one of the finest carnivals in the entire country, free shows and attractions can be viewed almost constantly from the time you arrive to the time you leave. The tradition of excellence that has been the Dutchess County Fair for over 170 years offers something for everyone and creates memorable moments that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Fair History

The Dutchess County Agricultural Society was formed in 1842 on a $157.00 grant from the New York State Legislature. The Society’s purpose was “to continue the development of agriculture, household manufactured items, and domestic produce.”

1842 – The First Official Fair

The first official fair was held in Washington Hollow in 1842. Many followed in that same location which is currently occupied by the barracks of the NYS police. The fair was also held off and on in Poughkeepsie in the area of what is now Mill and Catherine Streets.

By the 1900’s, the fair had suffered considerable financial challenges. This caused the cancellation of the 1916 and 1918 fairs. In 1917, the fairgrounds in Poughkeepsie was used to mobilize people on the home front on behalf of the men involved in the war effort.

In 1919 there was much question as to the future of a fair in Dutchess County. The directorate of the Society was reorganized and a new location was chosen, Springbrook Park in Rhinebeck. The relocation to the present location proved successful and subsequent fairs to this time have remained on the same location.

The Weather, Gas Restrictions, the War

Weather always affects the fair. Both the fairs of 1927 and 1928 were cancelled due to heavy rains and flooding. The Society was once again plunged into heavy debt. The subsequent Depression years continued to negatively influence the growth of the fair. The 1942 fair was cancelled due to the War.

After the 1945 fair, gas restrictions were lifted with the end of the War. The “incredible” receipts from the ’45 and ’46 fairs allowed the Society to repay its debts and make an investment in the future. After nearly 100 years of ups and downs, the Dutchess County Fair was in good shape.

In 2011 the fair was forced to close early due to hurricane Irene and an earthquake.

The Largest Agricultural 6-Day Fair in New York

In 1950, the reincorporated Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Inc. purchased Springbrook Park and renamed it the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. The facility has since grown to 147 acres. Construction on the fairgrounds over the years has been constant and impressive.

Today, the largest agricultural 6-day fair in New York State has a physical plant that is the recognized as one of the most beautiful in the country.

The Fairgrounds is Host to Popular Off-Season Events

According to industry “insiders” the Dutchess County Fair is the best six-day fair in the country. The Society now utilizes the grounds to host numerous off-season events including Crafts Shows, Classic Car Shows,  Antique Shows, a Sheep and Wool Festival, Wine and Food Festival and many livestock shows.

Fair Features


Agricultural fairs as we know them started two hundred years ago. They were in the very beginning, and are today, about farmers coming together. The fair is an opportunity for our farmers to showcase the very best of their livestock, and the best their fields and farms could produce. The farmers across the country work, plant, and plan for months in the hope of picking up one or more of those prized blue ribbons. Over 1,000 individual exhibitors prepare everything from cows, horses, pigs, chickens, sheep, and goats to jams, jellies, quilts and fine arts for the Dutchess County Fair. They provide us the essence of what an authentic county fair is all about. Giving our fairgoers an appreciation for agriculture, and educating them as to where the food we eat comes from. There is no better place to showcase agriculture than at a county fair. Experience the wonders of agriculture and learn more about it by visiting with our farmers.

“Livestock Hill” – 12 acres of the fairgrounds, dedicated to showcasing the finest in local livestock.

  • 12 barns house Dairy Cows, Beef Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Poultry, Rabbits and more
  • 3 Show Arenas with full daily schedules of judging
  • Milking demonstrations, Wool Workroom, and Sheep Shearing

Salute to Agriculture Tent – including the Dairy Birthing Center: allowing spectators to witness the live birth of a calf, and displays of award-winning Agricultural Crops and Produce.

AgVenture Kids Activity Tent – presents a mock farm, letting 3 to 10 year-olds see how food is grown and sold. The kids can dig up potatoes from a sandbox, shear a wooden (and woolen) sheep, pick apples from a plywood tree, and milk “Dutchess” the cow. They will take their crop to a warehouse where they will sell it for funny money. That money will buy them a half-pint of milk or bag of carrot sticks. Showing them that food doesn’t “just appear on grocery shelves.”

2 Horse Show Rings – featuring Equestrian events, an Antique tractor pull, and Farrier Competition.


The charm of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds is enhanced by some of the most beautiful gardens in the Hudson Valley. Annually, Fairgrounds gardeners enhance the character of the 147 acre fairgrounds with dozens of themed gardens. Waterfalls and ponds filled with koi and colorful water lilies add significantly to the Horticulture Center. When a respite is in order, relax in the quietude of the Memorial Garden.

Certainly, no visit to the fair would be complete without a walk through the Horticulture Building. Area landscapers gather to showcase their talents in breathtaking garden displays. But, don’t take our word for it – you be the judge! In addition to the professional adjudication, visitors to the Horticulture Building will be able to cast their own votes in a special “People’s Choice Awards” competition.

Working Sugar House and Cider Mill —Learn how maple syrup is made with sap gathered from the 100 maple trees that grace the fairgrounds. Let the children become a part of apple pressing at the New Cider Mill.

Turn-of-the-Century Treasures

The Dutchess County Fair affords an opportunity to showcase not only agriculture, but also all that is best about our past.

Century Museum Village—Turn-of-the-Century displays featuring “story tellers” in costume will take you back to a quieter, simpler time. Stroll past a printer’s shop complete with a working 1900 printing press, marvel at a living room filled with Victorian furniture, view a rural kitchen and watch as repairs are done in a Model-T-era auto shop.

Working Blacksmith Shop & Gas Powered Engine Show —Witness how work was done and things were made long before the robots were introduced to the workplace. This walk down “memory lane” is sure to bring special pleasure to our seniors and absolute amazement to the youngsters in your group.

Bentley One-Room Schoolhouse —An authentic one-room schoolhouse which had been moved to the fairgrounds, is filled with memorabilia that reflects educational practices and schoolhouse activities in an era long past. If you are fortunate enough, you may visit at a time when one of the teachers who actually taught in the school is your guide.

Pleasant Valley Historic Train Station — Relocated and restored, the Historic Pleasant Valley Train station allows the community the opportunity to view and learn about the industrial era; an integral part of the Hudson Valley’s historic story.

Judging Pavilion from Washington Hollow – The Victorian Judge’s Stand came from the old Dutchess County Fairgrounds Washington Hollow location on Route 44. In the early 1950’s, the Judge’s Stand was dismantled and transported to a seasonal property in Salt Point, NY. There it sat for over 60 years, until the property was sold in 2013. The new owners felt it was part of history and truly should belong once again to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. In need of restoration, the Victorian Judge’s Stand was once again dismantled, placed on a trailer, transported to the DCF location in Rhinebeck. It was then unloaded, rebuilt and restored piece by piece.

Working Sugar House and Cider Mill —Learn how maple syrup is made with sap gathered from the 100 maple trees that grace the fairgrounds. Let the children become a part of apple pressing at the New Cider Mill.

Northern Dutchess Rod & Gun Club Wildlife Exhibit

Dutchess County is home to some of nature’s most beautiful animals. In a very special corner of the fairgrounds protected by a canopy of leafy trees and evergreens, the wildlife exhibit provides a peaceful respite for animals and visitors, as well.

Arts & Crafts — Blue Ribbon Brownies & more

Looking for Aunt Helen’s prize winning pickles? Did Cousin Sally remind you to be sure to see her first place watercolor? Building E is the place to find hundreds and hundreds of handmade quilts, hobbies, crafts and more. From the finest hand crocheting to needlepoint and crewel, you will find nothing but “labors of love” in Building E.

Dutchess Fair Marketplace

The A, B, C’s of “Shop ‘Til You Drop”

Our vendors in the Dutchess Fair Marketplace come to Rhinebeck from all over the world and offer a shopping experience like no other! The collection of our 300 vendors of Crafts, Foods, Shopping, and Services is the perfect place to find house and garden items, unique crafts, amazing packaged foods and spirits, vehicles, and a host of services. It is the place to find just the thing for a Christmas gift, house present or a little something to brighten your day!

Buildings A, B, and C are filled with row after row of concession booths. A sales force of over 300 individual vendors inside these buildings and dotted throughout the fairgrounds bring everything from fine jewelry to pots and pans for purchase. Not to worry, they will be happy to hold your purchases until you are ready to leave for home.

Building D — From Field to Table: A Celebration of the Foods We Eat

Building D is the place to sample and purchase specialty foods in great variety. While the usual fair food vendors throughout the fairgrounds provide all of those tasty treats that come with a visit to the county fair, a walk into Building D will afford the opportunity to take home any number of delectable delights. Stock up on country store candies, honey, real maple syrup, jams, jellies, fudge, and oh yes, don’t forget the gourmet chocolate covered apples on a stick!

Dutchess County Fair Souvenirs

You can purchase all of your favorite fair souvenirs at the outside location near the Administrative Building. The souvenir stand will allow you to take home memories of your day at the fair and more.

List of Concession & Food Vendors

Food Vendors | Craft Vendors | Dutchess Fair Marketplace | Inside Vendors | Outside Vendors | Specialty Vendors

Food Vendors
Craft Vendors
Dutchess Fair Marketplace
Inside Vendors
Outside Vendors
Specialty Vendors

Free Entertainment

Entertainment Highlights

Whether you are a child or a child at heart there’s more to see and do at this year’s Dutchess County Fair than ever. Some of this year’s fair highlights include:

Attractions & Free Shows

  • Commerford’s Petting Zoo 
and Six Pony Hitch
  • Dock Diving Dogs
  • Rosaire’s Racing Pigs
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Selfie Spots
  • Sting Ray Encounter
  • Kid’s Celebration
  • AgVenture Kids Activity Tent
  • Vocal Trash

Building “E” Entertainment

  • Mad Science Show
  • Frogs, Bugs & Animals
  • Demonstrations: Wood Carving, Rug Hooking, Quilting

Strolling Acts

  • Hilby the Skinny German Juggler
  • Oscar the Roving Robot
  • “Fluffy” the T-Rex


Vision & Mission

The Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Inc.

A Tradition of Excellence

The Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Inc. is a non-profit 501c3 corporation. The 80 member society is made up of interested men and women who elect the 16 member Board of Directors. This group oversees all aspects of the operation of the fair and all off season events. The General Manager works with and communicates directly to the Board. A permanent staff of eleven produces the various events and maintains the 147 acre facility throughout the year. The number of paid staff and volunteers during the fair grows to several hundred.

Our Vision & Mission Statement

Our vision is a society actively engaged in the pursuit and promotion of our rural and agricultural heritage, from neighborhood back yards to family farms and commercial enterprises. Our mission is to showcase, promote and sustain agriculture through education, display, competition and community involvement.

Who We Are

  • We are an 80 member non-profit association
    • 16 directors who meet monthly
    • 20 committees
    • $10 annual dues
    • Society meets formally 3 times per year
    • Volunteer time requirement of membership
  • We are a private 501c3
  • The Fairgrounds encompasses 147 acres, straddling the Village and Town of Rhinebeck
  • 9 full time employees year round
  • 75 seasonal employees full time and part time
  • Approx. 400 Fair employees full time and part time


  • We receive no funding from Dutchess County or other local government
  • All agricultural fairs in New York received $6,700 for premiums
    • The Society gives this plus an additional $1,300 to the Dutchess County Cornell Cooperative Extension for 4H premiums
  • Three quarters of our annual income is made at the Fair
  • Many of the events held at the Fairgrounds are donated grounds and staffing for non-profit programming or fundraising


  • The Annual Dutchess County Fair 6 days, Average attendance is 300,000
  • The NYS Sheep & Wool Family Festival – 2 days, Average attendance is 30,000
  • 3 “wheel” shows (Car/motorcycle) 2 days each, Average attendance 5,000-12,000
  • 3 Crafts or Antiques shows – 2 days each, Average attendance 2,000-5,000
  • 3 Livestock Shows
  • Several 5K Runs / Marathons

The Fair

  • 1300+ Competitive Exhibitors at the Fair
  • 5500+ Competitive Exhibits
  • Over $85,000 in Open class premiums is awarded (does not include 4H premiums)
  • There are 377 concession spaces
    • 154 are Mid-Hudson Valley businesses
    • 5-8 spaces are offered each year to local non-profits

Community Support

  • The Dutchess County Agricultural Society donated $10,000 in 2009 for the purchase of a mobile fire-fighting apparatus for the Rhinebeck Fire Department.
  • The Society donated $100,000 towards the Capital Building fund for the Northern Dutchess Hospital for its previous expansion.
  • The helipad located on the Fairgrounds was installed and is maintained at the Society’s expense.  In addition to airlifted transports, it has been used for staging for local emergency operations.
  • The Fairgrounds provides the grounds for staging of the American Legion’s Annual Memorial Day Parade, Soccer field usage, parking for Porchfest.
  • The Society purchased and donated bicycles and Flat-screen TV for the Rhinebeck Village Police.
  • The Rhinebeck Village Police Department was housed in the Hall of Health Building on the Fairgrounds at no charge for 13 years. When the building had to be rebuilt due to structural issues, the Village did not accept the offer to rebuild the station on the Fairgrounds.
  • Northern Dutchess Hospital Annual Gala is held at the Fairgrounds free of charge.
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised at the various non-profit fundraising activities held at the Fairgrounds at no charge.
  • The Fairgrounds has offered its resources, including a 230 kW portable generator and our facility to local municipalities in the event of an emergency.

Other Activities

  • The Dutchess County Agricultural Society pays $8,000 each year for 4 college scholarships.
  • A long-range plan for the Society is to relocate local historical buildings to the Fairgrounds to create an “Antique Village,” depicting life in 19th century Hudson Valley.
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