Farming Man Fest 2019
By Tony Forder
So, you’ve heard about Burning Man – that wacky New Age fest in the desert out West. How about Farming Man? A wacky throwback fest up near Albany, NY. The 2nd annual Farming Man fest takes place this Saturday at Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery in Altamont, NY.
There’ll be beer, cider, music, food and of course a fire, where a hoppy effigy will be burned. Camping is encouraged. I can proudly say I attended the first Farming Man last year, which was close to being rained out. Indeed it was raining cats and dogs as I pushed up the turnpike, but as I approached the Helderberg escarpment, the skies miraculously cleared. The site was a bit muddy, conjuring visions of Woodstock, but things dried out quickly. There were a few tents scattered around. The largest camp consisted of a diverse group, refugees from a Phish concert in Watkins Glen which had in fact been rained out. Among them was a brewer from Creature Comforts brewery in Athens, GA, who was a friend of Indian Ladder promoter Dieter Gehring. When their concert was cancelled he contacted Dieter, “What can we do in the area?” “C’mon over to Farming Man!” Dieter said.
The event had its genesis as a campout for friends in a backfield of the 200-acre farm. The field featured a natural amphitheater, a glacial hollow. Dieter is married to Laura Ten Eyck, who’s grandfather established the farm in 1916. Peter Ten Eyck was a NY congressman who also served as the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture.
They grow apples, pears, pumpkins, berries and several other pick your own fruits; they have a store and a popular donut stand as well as a Biergarten and tasting room
Having dabbled in the neonascent microbrewing industry in the late 1980s (he sold beer for craft beer pioneer Bill Newman), it didn’t take Dieter long to begin steering Indian Ladder in a beery direction. Hop fields were planted, a brewery was installed, and hard cider introduced. This year a larger brewery is in the works.
Last year there were half a dozen breweries in attendance. Hutch Kugeman came over from the Brewery at the CIA, the guys from Common Roots and Paradox Brewing from upstate; Strong Rope and Sixpoint came up from the city. This year there’ll be more than two dozen. Gates open at 11am, music starts at 2pm. Beer and food is pay as you go. Camping is $20 a car load.