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ThinkDIFFERENTLY Thursday Returns for 172nd Annual Dutchess County Fair

Published: 7/31/2017

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus
(845) 486-2000

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is pleased to announce the Dutchess County Fair will again “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” for individuals and families with special needs.   Thursday, August 24th will be “ThinkDIFFERENTLY Thursday at the Fair” and  special needs families will be able to enjoy the Dutchess County Fair ahead of the hustle and bustle of crowds with a special early gate opening at 9am, as well as special sensory sensitive hours on carnival midway.

County Executive Molinaro said, “We were proud to offer ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY Thursday’ for the first time last year at the Dutchess County Fair, and it was great to see so many families enjoy this ‘Distinctly Dutchess’ annual tradition.   Andy Imperati, the Agricultural Society. The Dutchess County Fairgrounds team helped bring a lot smiles to people and showed that when you are willing to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and make some small adjustments, you can make a world of difference for a special needs family."

Each year, the Dutchess County Fair, New York State’s second-largest county fair, hosts nearly half a million patrons, and offers visitors a chance to enjoy live entertainment, carnival rides, agricultural exhibits, horticultural displays, and so much more.  However, for some individuals and families with special needs, the lights, sounds, and crowds can make it difficult to enjoy all the Dutchess County Fair has to offer, particularly those individuals with sensory processing issues.   The flashing lights and loud music, in addition to waiting lines for rides, can cause stress and anxiety.

The Fair is offering special needs families early entry to the fairgrounds on Thursday, August 24th starting at 9am, an hour before the official 10am start time.    Families will have the opportunity to enjoy the fairgrounds, including the animal barns on Livestock Hill and the 4H Exhibit Hall, ahead of the crowds.   While not all of the attractions and exhibits will be open at 9am, the soft opening provides families a chance to ease into their day at the Fair as the fairgrounds “wake up for the day,” ahead of the arrival of the crowds.

Additionally, the carnival midway area will open at 9:30am and will be “sensory sensitive” until 11:30am.    The flashing lights, music and other sounds and noises will be turned off until 11:30am to give individuals who are impacted by sensory processing disorders a chance to enjoy the rides without the drawbacks that wait time, lights and sounds can cause.  

Dutchess County Fairgrounds General Manager Andy Imperati said, “The Dutchess County Fair is proud to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and offer a fun experience for every family!    These adjustments make it a little easier for families with special needs to come and enjoy the Fair, and that is our goal.”

County Executive Molinaro’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative, launched in 2015, is a call to action to help make Dutchess County a community that is supportive and inclusive for individuals of all abilities.

The Dutchess County Fair runs Tuesday, August 22nd through Sunday, August 27th, opening at 10am each day.   Admission and ride tickets can be purchased online, at an advance sale discount rate, or on-site. Children under 12 are free.   On Thursday, August 24th, special needs families coming to enjoy “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” Day should enter the Fair at the main ticket gate.  For more information and a full schedule of the Dutchess County Fair’s events, see: