New York (Up)State of Mind

Written by Sean Creamer on . Posted in Arts & Film, Music, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, Special Sections, Summer Guide, West Side Spirit.


The towns beyond New York City offer many reasons to escape for the weekend



Summer is well-known among beer connoisseurs as the time to enjoy a fresh brew, and there is no better venue for this simple pleasure than the annual Summer Brewfest. The fest is held at Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse, roughly an hour from Manhattan. In addition to the numerous local and international microbreweries, Summer Brewfest will include live music. There are a limited number of tickets, so get them while they last. June 22, 5:30 p.m.; $50, $10 for designated drivers. Syracuse, cnysummerbrewfest.com.


Clinton Square in Syracuse is home to many events, but the New York State Blues Fest boasts one of the longest performer rosters and attracts some of the biggest crowds. The three-day-long festival offers everything from local talent, such as Soul of Syracuse, to internationally acclaimed blues bands like River City Junction. A three-day pass costs $25, but a VIP one, with access to food, drinks and a club crawl, will set you back $150. July 13-15; $25, $150 for VIP passes. Syracuse, nysbluesfest.com.


Middle Eastern communities are present in all four corners of the country, and upstate New York is no exception. With this festival, Middle Eastern New Yorkers celebrate Saint Elias, the patron saint of the St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Syracuse. The event originated in 1937, becoming the social event of the year for the Arabic-speaking community of central New York. The church grounds are converted into a Middle Eastern food haven, chock full of shish kebab, grape leaves, spinach pies, hummus, pastries and Arabic coffee. In addition, the church sets up a souk, marketplace, selling jewelry, gifts and rugs, and visitors will be entertained by live Arabic music and dances. July 20-22; free. Syracuse, sainteliasny.com.


Those who appreciate the simple pleasures in life—a nice glass of merlot and some Miles Davis—should head to the Northeast Jazz and Wine festival this summer. Admission to the event is free and includes wine tastings from local and international wineries, coupled with 22 hours of performances. One perk of this event is the air-conditioned wine pavilion. July 27-29; free. Syracuse, cnyjazz.org.


Arguably one of the biggest summer fests in the state, The Great New York State Fair spans over 12 days and includes entertainment and a number of competitions, from best antique automobile to prettiest rose. The fair is an out-and-out traditional American festival, complete with two 4-H competitions: 4-H Youth Building Exhibits and 4-H Youth Livestock. Aug. 23-Sept. 3; $6 advance, $10 day of. Syracuse, nysfair.org/home.


If you walk down St. Mark’s Place in the East Village, you might pass by a few notable jazz clubs; if you are looking for an all day jazz fête, head to the 30th year of Jazzfest in Jamesville. The icing on the cake? Admission is free. Gas up the car or get on a bus and amp up during the four-hour ride. Acts include Cyrille Aimee and Mingo Fishtrap. On Friday, Kenny G will be the headlining performance, and on Saturday, Average White Band and Donovan with Troubadour will lay down the beat. June 22-23; free. Jamesville, syracusejazzfest.com.


Harborfest
Each year, the city of Oswego hosts its annual Harborfest. This will be the 25th year of the festival, and to kick it off, Kenny Loggins will be playing along with a trove of cover bands such as BIG SHOT, which pays homage to Billy Joel, and The Mayor of Margaritaville, a wink and a nod to their inspiration, Jimmy Buffett. For those who need a break from the vintage tunes, head to the juried arts and crafts fair or the numerous food tents selling fair favorites like fried dough and turkey legs. July 26-29; free. Oswego, www.oswegoharborfest.com.

Saratoga County

While it isn’t too difficult to find a roughed-up antique on the side of the road on trash day in New York City, connoisseurs who don’t want to risk the possibility of bed bugs and are looking for a truly good find can trek to the 40th annual Round Lake Antiques Festival. In close proximity to the town of Saratoga Springs, the weekend festival features 250 vendors and draws close to 20,000 people each year. June 23-24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. Round Lake, greatamericanantiquefest.com/antique_shows/round_lake.htm

Cayuga County

Travel back to the year 1585 this summer at the Sterling Renaissance Festival, where the Medieval Era is in full swing. Go to a wench auction, eat steak on a stake and learn to dance like a bard. With over 100 vendors selling their unique wares and people running around in ye olde garb, this little village will surely feel like a blast to the past, without all the awful smells and diseases that plagued the Dark Ages. Saturdays and Sundays, July 7-Aug. 19; $22.95, kids 6-12 $12.95, group rates and multiday passes available. Sterling, sterlingfestival.com/festivalinformation.html.


Dutchess County Fair
Each August, the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck opens to the public for six days, catering to nearly half a million patrons. Only two hours from New York City, the Dutchess County Fair is the second largest in the state and serves as a showplace for agricultural marvels from across the county. Aug. 21-26; $12 advance, tickets to grandstand events sold separately. Rhinebeck, dutchessfair.com.

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