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Spring Has Sprung In New York State: Savor Seasonal Flavors, Spot A UFO And Participate In Various Festivals

April 4, 2014 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

As spring spreads its warmth across New York State, festivals and activities celebrating the state’s bounty, outdoor attractions and heritage are sprouting up.

EventsNew York State ranks among the top wine, fruit, dairy and berry producing states in the nation, and farms, wineries and breweries throughout are increasingly opening their doors to visitors and the sunshine. With its protected wilderness–more state-designated wilderness land than any state (except Alaska)—and New York State’s many pivotal roles in the history of the country, it’s easy to see why the season of awakening is filled with an abundance of activities for travelers.

What follows is a sampling of the many festivals and special events happening throughout the Empire State this spring:

Winning at Wine. New York ranks third in grape and wine production in the U.S., producing highly-regarded wines in more than 35 varieties. Spring is a great time to hit the road and see New York vineyards as they head into their growing season. Many, such as Clearview Vineyard in the Hudson Valley which re-opens to visitors in April, offer live music and other entertainment in addition to free tours. To sample a broad array of wines, head for the Capital-Saratoga region where The Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail hosts the Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival on May 24-25  at Columbia County Fair grounds in Chatham, showcasing about 50 wine, craft beer, spirit and cider producers and a farmers market along with food and wine speakers and demonstrations. In the Chautauqua-Allegheny region, wines and works of local artists are on tap, during Lake Erie Wine Country’s Wine & Cheese Weekend May 16-18.

Tasting New York. Ramps (wild leeks) are one of the earliest signs of spring that locavores grazing the restaurants and farm stands of New York State are likely to encounter. Showcasing locally-sourced, inventive farm-to-table cuisine, Hamptons Restaurant Week in Long Island takes place March 23-30. In the Finger Lakes, the United Way of Seneca County is sponsoring the 26th Annual Taste of Spring fund-raiser on May 1st at the Waterloo Holiday Inn, featuring tastes of local foods and wines.
Farmers markets and food, beer and wine festivals also shift into gear every spring. For example, in the Catskills, TAP New York craft beer and fine food festival at Hunter Mountain April 26-27 offers the chance to sample over 200 individual beers from over 70 craft breweries around New York along with daily cooking demonstrations. The annual Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival on May 10 at Historic Catskill Point offers samplings of local wines, cheeses as well as crafters and music.

Waking up to Nature.  N.Y. Park State Campgrounds re-open on May 16, but visitors don’t need to wait until then to enjoy the trails and events, a sneak peak is available at NYSparks.com. This year it is even easier to visit with the free Oh Ranger! NY State Parks app that allows users to search by location. There’s also an easy to use on-line event finder.

Birdwatchers flock to the southeastern shores of Lake Erie in Chautauqua County from March to May to spot raptors and other migratory birds before they embark on their journeys across Lake Erie. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute andJamestown Audubon Center offer world-class visitors centers with exhibits, nature trails, programs and gift shops.

When it comes to trout fishing, Roscoe, New York is the top destination in the east. This year’s first hook lands in the water on April 1st, opening day of fishing season. Fishing enthusiasts can also compete in the 15th Annual Ausable River Two-Fly Challenge, slated for May 16-17 in Wilmington, in the Adirondacks region. And in the Finger Lakes, the Wild Water Derby and Flat Water Regatta, April 26-27, is one of many ways to have fun on the water.

Many resorts, inns and hotels around the state also highlight special outdoor activities in their spring packages. For example, the Margaretville Mountain Inn in the Catskills, offers guided and individual on- and off-road biking, canoeing and hikes to lovely waterfalls, and the Roxbury Motel features an early evening guided kayak tour hosted a NYS licensed guide to spot bald eagles, heron, osprey, beaver, muskrat and other wildlife.

Two-wheeling the Trails. Spring is an exciting time for road and off-road bicycling and motorcycling events. The Hunter Mountain Spring Classic Bike Race, a 39 mile on-road race with an exciting start and finish at Hunter Mountain, is slated for May 10, while the 32nd Annual Americade in Lake George, slated for June 2-7, offers riders a plethora of Adirondack motorcycling events activities and tours.

Groovin’ to the Music. Warm weather means music festivals in New York State. In the Catskills, the East Durham Irish Festival on May 24-25 features Irish entertainers from the Old Country as well as New York along with Pipe Bands, Irish Step Dancing Schools and a children’s “Land of the Leprechauns” area. The renowned Heidi Latsky will perform at the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Orpheum Film & Performing Arts Center in Tannersville on May 31. Radio Woodstock Mountain Jam Fest X on June 5-8 at Hunter Mountain features national recording artists and local bands, and country music will be theme June 13-15 at Hunter Mountain’s Taste of Country Music Festival. The Adirondacks will host the Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival, June 12-14, at the Maple Ridge Center in Lowville.  In the Hudson Valley, Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival music festival will take place June 21-22 at Croton-on-Hudson.

Parading the Past. New York State’s intriguing past can be experienced at historic sites in every part of the state where exhibits, discussions, costumed interpreters and re-enactments bring the past to life. Interested in the French & Indian War?Fort Ticonderoga’s Nineteenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War, May 16-18, 2014 draws historians from across the U.S. and the public is welcome with pre-registration. Other events include a World War II Encampment, May 19-20 at theOld Bethpage Village Restoration in Long Island.

The ultimate community parades and parties happen on Memorial Day. Waterloo in the Finger Lakes, the birthplace of Memorial Day, will have events on May 23rd-26th and 30th, including canal tours, horse and wagon rides, music and food. Hague in the Adirondacks celebrates on May 24 with games, vendors, marching bands and a Civil War-themed memorial service. On April 12-13, Greater Niagara commemorates the anniversary of the outbreak of the American Revolution. The town brings history to life with costumed interpreters, musket firings, military drill and storytelling.

The Art and Craft of spring. Whether perfecting a craft or appreciating fine art, visitors will find New York bursting with creativity. On May 30th – June 1st in the Greater Niagara region, artisans get together at the annual juried show 100 American Craftsmen in the historic Kenan Center to exclusively showcase contemporary craft art.

For the second year in the Finger Lakes, the arts event in Steuben County’s Arts in Bloom will showcase local artists on April 26-27 with studio tours as well as short scheduled performances by musicians, poets, and dancers at public venues. And in the Capital-Saratoga region, the second annual Fine Arts and Crafts Festival on April 25-26 will feature original works by top artists and craftspeople at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy. Van Cortlandt Manor and the other historic mansions of the Hudson Valley also offer a variety of hands-on crafts and other events this spring.

And lots more. Antiquers and classic car lovers can head to Central New York for the Madison Bouckville Spring Antique Show on June 6-8 at Quaker Acres. The annual Oz-Stravaganza June 5-8 in Chittenango celebrates native son and “Wizard of Oz” creator L. Frank Baum. In the Hudson Valley, UFO’s are the theme for children’s activities, crafts and costumes at thePine Bush UFO Fair in Pine Bush. The Finger Lakes welcomes the golfing season with a $50 gas card promotion for accommodations packages at two championship courses: Ravenwood Golf Club, host of 2003 and 2009 New York State Golf Championships and the 2004 U.S. Open Qualifier, and Bristol Harbour, a Robert Trent Jones designed course with amazing views of Canandaigua Lake. And for businesses interested in attracting the LGBT market, the Hudson Valley will host the firstQueen City Pride celebration on June 5-8.

Find more spring activity ideas at www.iloveny.com and www.thebeat.iloveny.com.

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