Hudson Valley Arts Festival at Rhinebeck debuts this weekend

Josh Finn

“A celebration of the very concept of creativity” is how its presenters – Artrider Productions of Woodstock, Hudson Valley Tourism, the Dutchess County Arts Council, the Woodstock Film Festival, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, The Valley Table, FiberFlame and several other regional entities – are billing the Hudson Valley Arts Festival at Rhinebeck. Picking up where the now-defunct Dutchess Craft Fair left off, the brand-new Arts Festival is intended to be a three-day celebration of the finest arts and crafts in the country, drawing on a huge pool of area talent. More than 200 outstanding artists and craftspeople will be featured from 21 states, with 30 gourmet food purveyors, 25 musicians and performers and a host of other features and interactive activities.

Sure, you’ll be able to shop ‘til you drop for high-end crafts at the sprawling Dutchess Fairgrounds. Among the artists with national reputations participating will be Cliff and Holly Lee, Patricia Palson, Laura Baring-Gould and Lauren Blais, along with local standouts John Gilvey, Pat and Allen Littlefield, Loraine Jackson, Paul Friedman, Tom Herman, Adel Chefridi, Richard Messina and Maija Neimanis. A special showcase of Hudson Valley Furniture Makers will feature works by Josh Finn, Michael Puryear, Robert Hare and Michael Leggett.

But docent tours, demonstrations and hands-on art projects for both kids and adults are also on the menu, and the culinary and winemaking arts will not be left out. Nor will live performance: Highlights of the music schedule include Mike + Ruthy on Friday at 4 p.m., Myles Mancuso on Saturday at 5 p.m. and Lindsay Webster on Sunday at 1 p.m. Actors, singers and dancers from the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck will recreate favorite songs and scenes from recent productions Spamalot, Camelot and Little Shop of Horrors.

What may prove to set this Festival apart from the plethora other artsy-craftsy events in the mid-Hudson is its rare acknowledgment that writing is also one of the fine arts. Local author Joanne Michaels will be on hand, signing her various books that celebrate the Hudson River Valley. Bliss Plot Press will showcase the rich literary talent in the Valley with its most recent publications, including Volumes 3 and 4 of its highly regarded Prima Materia anthologies.

This Festival won’t go over the kids’ heads, though. FiberFlame Studios of Saugerties will bring in some of their more portable participatory artmaking activities for children (and some at which adults can try their hands, as well). And Todd Crowley’s Musical Petting Zoo will enable folks of all ages to interact with dozens of instruments, from accordions to zithers.

This Festival will feature crafted foods as well, including Oliver Kita Chocolates, preserves from Surprenant’s Berry Farm, biscotti from Bella’s Home-Baked Goods, farm-raised venison sausage and jerky from Highland Farms and seasonal produce from Red Hook’s wonderful Hardeman Orchards.

Festival hours will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, October 4 and 5, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 6, rain or shine. Entry costs $10 for general admission, $9 for seniors, $4 for kids age 6 to 16 and free for kids under 6.

Hudson Valley Arts Festival at Rhinebeck, Friday/Saturday, October 4/5, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, October 6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $10/$9/$4, Dutchess County Fairgrounds, Route 9, Rhinebeck; (845) 331-7900,

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