If the summer months are the high-water, action-packed, busy, busy, busy season of the calendar year for the Finger Lakes, the autumn months are the glorious payday we all get for visitors, and especially for those that live here. It’s gorgeous here in the fall! But that doesn’t mean it’s the slow season. Far from it. It’s harvest time, and the events roll on!
VINTAGE GRAND PRIX FESTIVAL – Weekend after Labor Day – Watkins Glen
Our list of the best annual autumn events in the Finger Lakes begins with this one-of-a-kind race weekend that is not just for the racing – it’s a festival that marks the transition from summer to fall, and it’s tons of fun. Yes, there is “racing” going on all weekend, up at Watkins Glen International, but there are fun events for racing fans, and the public in general, too, right down in the village. The best is the annual Friday night “race” on the “old course”. They close the main street (Franklin St.) in downtown Watkins Glen for most of the day for a food, drinks and music festival that is great fun. The main attraction are the dozens and dozens of vintage road racing cars that line Franklin Street for you to get up close and personal with.
Then, around 6pm, these vintage cars come to life. The roar builds and they begin the parade that takes off from the actual former start line of the old U.S. Grand Prix road coarse circuit. They follow the original 6.6 mile “road course” through the village streets, up into the hills that surround the glen that this community is famous for, and back down the “Big Bend” curve into the village streets again, lined with fans enjoying these beautiful cars and an old racing experience.
The block party goes from 12:30 to 8:00pm on Friday, with the “race” along the old course starting around 6pm. Other festival events take place up at Watkins Glen International grounds all weekend. For more information, click HERE.
NAPLES GRAPE FESTIVAL – 3rd AND 4th weekends in September – Naples
This long standing traditional fall festival attracts super crowds for the Saturday and Sunday craft show offerings, and is one of the best ways to fully dive head on into Autumn. And Naples, is a gorgeous place to be in late September!
There are often some “opening festivities” the 3rd weekend of September to get things kicked-off, but the main event is the craft festival during the daytime on Saturday and Sunday of the 4th weekend of September.
In addition to great items to buy, the food offerings are what attracts people, too. We always say we are going to try something new each year, but can’t seem to go past the Red Osier roast beef sandwich stand. Yes indeed.
Like many popular festivals, parking can be an issue. This is a narrow valley village and entrances into the town are few. There are two secrets we can share with you though. The first, and most obvious, is get there early, as in 9-11am. The 2nd tip is to not focus on the main road for a parking spot (though you might get lucky). The first chance you get, turn off onto one of the side streets and try to park on one of the neighborhood roads if you can. We always find a spot. Oh, another thing…bring some paper money with you to throw in the fireman’s boot fundraiser, it goes to a nice cause!
You can learn more HERE