orange-county-tourism-2.JPGOrange County, N.Y. - Orange County, New York is renowned for its earth and water. It's bordered by two of America's most beautiful rivers, the Delaware and the Hudson, and some of the most fertile "Black Dirt" on the continent fills a 22-square mile section of its lush interior. Rich deposits of iron ore framed its Revolutionary War history, while the 9-mile long Greenwood Lake and the majestic Hudson Highlands made indelible impressions on the Hudson River School artists. Celebrate the remarkable elements of nature at scores of upcoming events in this easy to reach Hudson Valley locale. Adding a little earth and water to your calendar is sort of like making mud pies, it's an elixir for fun and relaxation. Welcome the month of May with a dance around the Maypole! Brid's Closet 6th Annual Beltane Festival celebrates the earth-centered Beltane holiday of Celtic neo-pagan origin that marks the halfway point between spring and summer. Enjoy the ritual fun, May 4th, on the beautiful grounds of Palaia Vineyards in Highland Mills. Merriment from 9am to 6pm includes live music, vendors, workshops, tarot readings and arts and crafts for kids. Renaissance attire is perfect for this event. April showers brought May flowers to the Orange County Arboretum at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery. 34,000 brilliant bulbs planted in raised beds are expected to burst into bloom during the first week of May. Catch this breathtaking sight while it lasts and don't forget your camera. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk. This lovely venue will host the Hudson Valley Garden Association's first annual Garden Fair on Saturday, May 4th. There is an admission fee for this special celebration of gardening that offers demonstrations, exhibitors and guided tours of the arboretum.  Toast Mother Earth when you celebrate Mother's Day with a Champagne Cocktail Tasting at Brotherhood, America's Oldest Winery in Washingtonville on Saturday and Sunday, May 11th and 12th. Soil and water have everything to do with wine and when it comes to Champagne, so does the wine making process. See the room where the bottles are hand turned and stored during the aging process in the same hand-dug wine cellars that produced the vintage that put New York Champagne on the map at the 1900 Paris Exposition. Famed cocktail consultant and expert mixologist, Gwen Sutherland Kaiser, will be serving up five culinary cocktails with the winery's award-winning bubbly and lots of fresh local, seasonal ingredients. Take home a souvenir glass and some wonderful recipes. Cheers! Feel both earth and water beneath your feet when you depart the Newburgh Waterfront for a guided tour of Pollepel Island and Bannerman Castle. The Estuary Steward will take you to the landing dock of the mysterious Hudson River island where you'll begin your tour with a 72-step stairway. Wear your comfortable walking shoes for this rustic 2 ½ hour adventure along paths leading to the ruins of the scenic castle and Bannerman residence and gardens. Reservations are required for this excursion offered Saturdays and Sundays at 11am through October 27th. Get even closer to the water when you do this tour by kayak. Most weekends from May 19th until September 22nd, Storm King Adventure Tours in Cornwall-on-Hudson will outfit you with all of the necessary equipment and escort you to the island for a 3 to 4 hour adventure you'll never forget.   Nothing pays greater homage to Orange County's natural resources than the annual Earth & Water Festival at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery. The free event on May 18th  highlights environmental conservation with good green fun. Bring the family for a full day of live music and performances by the Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, Snakeman's Snake Show and the Maxwell Kofi Donkor & Sankofa Drum & Dance Ensemble. Peruse the green expo, artisan crafts, children's games and activities, farmers market and food vendors, then cozy up on your lawn blanket and enjoy the shows.  You can sneak away for a little while to tour the magnificent 1769 stone farmhouse known as Hill-Hold, on its seasonal opening day. Located just minutes away from the festival, the stately site was the home of the prosperous farmer, Thomas Bull, for whom Thomas Bull Memorial Park is named. It's open Wednesday through Sunday until mid-October.  Grasshopper Grove, a brand new half-acre natural play space at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum's Outdoor Discovery Center in Cornwall will put your children in touch with the earth. It's a place where kids can get dirty and have fun using their imaginations to dig in dirt piles, balance on boulders, create masterpieces with pine cones, sticks and stones, and paint with rainwater.  It's the first nature play area of its type in the Hudson Valley and among the pioneers in the USA. Watch your little one's imaginations soar after a visit to this incredible nature park, open weekends through October from 9am to 4pm. Get down to earth in Orange County this season! Find a complete list of attractions, lodging, and events at http://www.orangetourism.org/. For a free copy of the Orange County Travel Guide, email tourism@orangecountygov.com or call 800-762-8687. Orange County Tourism is headquarters for tourism in the county and is part of the I LOVE NEW YORK program. RESOURCES:

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Contact: Mary Ann McCarthy (845) 615-3860 mmccarthy@orangecountygov.com