POUGHQUAG, N.Y. --- The Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival is being held at Barton Orchards in Poughquag and is being put on by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Air Balloon crews have traveled to the Hudson Valley from as far as Canada. The festival features vendors from across the Hudson valley. Festival events include, helicopter and hot air balloon rides, hay rides, petting zoo, farmers market, live music and fireworks.

County Officials said it's a great way to get more people into Dutchess to experience hidden treasures in the Hudson valley. Officials said the weather is a big factor in the timing of balloon launches.

"What seems or appears to be a very calm or a very mild windy day, anything over 10 miles an hour we are not flying," said Roger Hooper, Hudson Valley Balloon Meister. "We'll have a pilot briefing where we check weather, we check with flight service making sure the weather is conducive the direction is conducive......"

“It’s more about recreation now," concedes Peter Barton, who owns the 122-acre family farm that boasts a 5-acre corn maze.
And recreation is exactly why people go: DJs spin on midweek school holidays, while live bands take the stage on weekends.

Gina and Michael Noriega wanted to go apple and pumpkin picking for Gina’s birthday on Thursday so they Googled the topic. Barton Orchards in Poughquag was at the top of the search engine’s list. So, the couple made the 45-minute trek from their White Plains home and happily admitted that it was well worth the drive.

"I’ve talked to a few families recently. They’ve all told me they don’t apple pick. Really? You mean your not taking your kids to the hay ride, face painting, pumpkin patch, the burlap slide at Barton Orchards!! YOU JUST HAVE TO GO I say!"

A short, twenty minute, drive from Vassar College, Barton Orchards is set in a lovely rural area of Poughaug, New York. Cars pull up onto their grass to form a temporary parking lot for the unending line of visitors eager to explore this autumn staple.

New for (the 2013) season, the gigantic five-acre maze has the theme ‘‘Ghost Girl’’ based on the Pac-Man-inspired graffiti by Queens artist Matt Siren.
Dotted among the 15-foot-high stalks of corn...are works by Siren’s peers, including UFO, Moody, Cassius Fouler and Crasty

Barton Orchards has been around for 40 years, with 24 of those years being open to the public. The orchard grows many kinds of crops, including apples, vegetables and grapes.

“Location, location, location,” Peter Barton responded when asked why he stationed Barton Orchards in Poughquag. “We were fortunate that it was a positive location in southern Dutchess County, near the Taconic. It’s a part of our success.” There is also an off-site market in LaGrange.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population is comprised of farm and ranch families. Despite that number, Barton said he thinks the “level of education that we bring alone” is what makes Barton Orchards a strong business model going forward.

It is because of Barton’s passion for and dedication to agriculture that he is receiving the Business Excellence Award in the category of Agriculture from Think Dutchess Alliance for Business, formerly Dutchess County Economic Development Corp.....