RHINEBECK, N. Y. -- The Dutchess County Fair opens early on Thursday to offer special needs families a chance to enjoy the fair without the crowds and noises normally found at the annual five-day event.
As part of a Dutchess County "Think Differently" program to highlight inclusive efforts for those with special needs, the fair opens at 9 a.m. That is an hour earlier than the standard 10 a.m. start time in an effort to give special needs family a more quiet experience at the fair.
Families have a chance to visit Livestock Hill, the Horticultural Building, Century Museum Antique Village and other attractions early, then at 9:30 carnival rides open without the typical sounds and lights, officials said. Rides will stay quiet until 10:30 a.m., officials said.
The annual fair, one of the largest in the state, attracts about 500,000 people annually, officials said. "But for families who have special needs, some of the aspects of the fair including the crowds, the lights and the sounds, can cause sensory chaos and mar their experience," Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said.
Making some simple adjustments can make it a better experience for those with special needs, particularly those with sensory processing disorders, Molinaro said.
"We want the fair to be an experience every family can enjoy," said Andy Imperati, general manager of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
The Dutchess County Fair opened Tuesday and continues through Sunday at Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.
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