Summer is quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a few last flings. How about hitting a fun-filled county fair or country festival? There are lots of fantastic annual fests at this time of year, like the Dutchess County Fair, the Columbia County Fair and the New York State Fair, many a short drive (or train or bus ride) from New York City and Westchester. There are even three county fairs right in NYC!
These fairs let kids get face time with farm animals like chickens, goats, pigs and cows; hop on cool carnival rides; groove to live music; and enjoy other entertainment and activities. They're good old-fashioned fun for the whole family, and the perfect way to say goodbye to the season. Here are 10 county fairs and festivals near or in New York City.
Fairs in Upstate New York & Long Island
Dutchess County Fair – Rhinebeck, NY
Tuesday, August 19-Sunday, August 24
Dutchess County Fair Grounds, 6550 Springbrook Avenue
Admission: $15 for adults, free for children under 12. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
Approximately two hours by car from midtown Manhattan. Metro-North also offers a package deal Tuesday through Saturday to the Poughkeepsie station, where you can board a shuttle bus to the fair.
The bucolic fairgrounds in lovely Rhinebeck become a hot spot of family fun with agricultural and horticultural displays, lots of farm animals, decadent treats, live entertainment, vendors and a carnival midway that will really wow the kids. Planning ahead is best since ride tickets are less expensive if purchased in advance by midnight on August 18. Be warned: Most of the rides are best for older kids. Families with younger children will probably want to stick with cheering on Frisbee-catching dogs, watching the pony rodeo or strolling through the stables. They'll also be able to see their country peers show off their prize farm animals. There's lots of live entertainment, too, including kid talent shows and animal contests like pig racing, plus jugglers, clowns, bull riding, motocross spectacles and bands. Tickets to the big attractions aren't included with admission so check the website for schedule and prices. Also, download the free app with a map, the complete schedule and even the ability to buy tickets on the go.
Otisville Country Fair – Otisville, NY
Thursday, August 21-Sunday, August 24
340 Finchville Turnpike
Admission: Free. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
Approximately one hour and 40 minutes by car from midtown Manhattan.
Compared to many of the others, the 26th annual Otisville Country Fair is a newbie. But it still features the usual fun including country line dancing, a chainsaw competition, a horseshoe tournament, a car show, a parade, a children's tractor pull, art and livestock competitions, a magic show, touch-a-trucks, live music, complimentary hayrides, fireworks, vendors, antique machinery and food.
The Great New York State Fair – Syracuse, NY
Thursday, August 21-Monday, September 1
The New York State Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Boulevard
Admission: $10 for adults, free for children under 13; special: students under age 17 go free on Friday, August 29. Save 40 percent on admission by buying tickets before Wednesday, August 20. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
Approximately four and a half hours by car from midtown Manhattan. You can also take Amtrak.
Granted, it's a bit of a schlep, but this fair is the big kahuna with 375 acres of family fun. Enjoy big-name performers like Brad Paisley and Kellie Pickler, livestock competitions, antique tractor and train displays, butter and cheese carving, cooking demos, parades, petting zoos, pig races and a massive midway. While it's too far for a day trip, it makes for a great weekend getaway.
Fonda Fair – Fonda, NY
Tuesday, August 26-Monday, September 1
21 South Bridge Street
Admission: $10 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
Another fair that's better for a weekend trip, this bash was founded in 1841 and features rodeo competitions, milking contests, beauty contests (even for babies), poultry shows, truck pulls, demolition derbies, live entertainment, rides and food.
Columbia County Fair – Chatham, NY
Wednesday, August 27-Monday, September 1
Admission: $10 Wednesday-Saturday and Monday, $12 on Sunday for adults, free for children under 13, save money by ordering tickets in advance. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
Approximately two and a half hours by car from midtown Manhattan
A family favorite, this fair is packed with midway games and rides, agricultural exhibits, blue ribbon livestock competitions, craft demos, flower and garden displays, tractor pulls, a demolition derby and multiple stages with live entertainment.
The Great Schaghticoke Fair – Schaghticoke, NY
Wednesday, August 27-Monday, September 1 10am-10pm
Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, 69 Stillwater Bridge Road
Admission: $5 on Wednesday, $11 Thursday-Monday for adults; free for children under 14. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
Approximately three hours by car from midtown Manhattan.
The Schaghticoke (say that three times fast) Fair is one of the oldest fairs in New York State (founded in 1819!) with lots of opportunities for families to enjoy hands-on animal activities. Located at the base of the Adirondacks, it's a bit further north than the Dutchess or Columbia County Fairs, and is probably a better weekend than day trip. The tractor and pick-up truck pulls, agricultural displays, live entertainment and Saturday night fireworks definitely make for a fun family getaway.
Long Island Fair – Bethpage, Long Island
Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road
Saturday, September 27-Sunday, September 28; Thursday, October 2-Sunday, October 5 10am-5pm
Admission to be determined
Approximately one hour by car from midtown Manhattan.
The schedule is still being worked out for this annual fair, which has been around since 1842! We expect it will feature all of the usual fun, including puppet and magic shows, traditional music and dancing, old-time baseball, juggling, storytelling and lots of animals. You'll find all the details here once they're posted.
Fairs in NYC
Richmond County Fair – Staten Island
Saturday, August 30-Monday, September 1
Historic Richmond Town, 441 Clarke Avenue
Admission: $16, free for children under 30 inches
Didn't know we had county fairs in NYC? Well, we actually have three! This annual shindig is the oldest and, at 25 acres, the biggest of the trio, and takes place at New York City's only living history museum, which is located in the Staten Island Greenbelt. Unlike many county fairs, most attractions at Richmond are included with the price of admission, so the kids can enjoy carnival rides, crafts, eating contests, pig races, car displays, magicians, live music and face time with farm animals at no extra cost. There will also be vendors, fattening food and pony rides for additional fees.
West Side County Fair – Upper West Side
Sunday, September 7
Riverside Park South, Pier I at 70th Street
We admit, this isn't like going to Dutchess or the other biggies, but it's the closest you'll get to a county fair in the middle of Manhattan. Perfect for preschoolers, this 12th annual fest includes many of the usual attractions, including small carnival rides, live entertainment, a reptile show and a smattering of country vendors.
Queens County Fair – Floral Park, NY
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Saturday, September 20-Sunday, September 21
Admission: $9 for adults, $5 for children. Additional fees for rides and other attractions.
NYC's only historic working farm, the Queens County Farm Museum, hosts this annual traditional fair with blue ribbon competitions in livestock, produce, home crafts, arts and crafts, and more. Other old-fashioned fun includes pie-eating and corn-husking contests, pig races, hayrides, a petting zoo, carnival rides and a midway. My family and I have been to this fair several times and really enjoy it. It's all the fun of country farm life without having to leave the city. For an additional fee, you can also get lost in the Amazing Maize Maze.
Find more end-of-summer activities in our Summer Fun Guide.