Once a year, this Geneseo field bursts into a celebration of tradition
Glenn Clark of Pittsford has made it to the Genesee Valley Hunt Race more than ten years in a row. “It’s like a summer festival, except in the great outdoors in the fall foliage. It has everything a summer festival has, but it’s in October,” he says. Each year, Clark, whose company provides marketing and design services to the races, rents a space in the tailgating area, which he likens to a Buffalo Bills tailgating party—in a lush autumnal countryside. “I’ve been going for years, and I’ve never stepped away from my tailgate,” Clark says. “Every time, I tell myself, ‘this is the year I’ll watch the races,’ but then there is so much to do, I still haven’t made it.”
The race dates back to 1876, and was initially christened the Livingston County Hunt. Since then, it’s become more of a festival every year. Vendors and artisans have plenty to offer, and some of the tailgating spreads are completely over the top, with fine china, silver tableware, elaborate flower arrangements, and exquisite baked goods all on display.
Over the years, the races have garnered a secondary reputation as a canine expo. “I can tell you, my wife and daughters are into dogs, and they can’t wait to dress their dogs up,” says Clark. “People buy them special leashes and collars and get them shampooed and primped up the day before because they want to show off their dogs. The dog thing is huge.”
On top of that, admission for kids is free. And a lot of attractions are geared toward them: a petting zoo, free wagon and pony rides, and an agri-center where kids can spin their own wool and learn about the agricultural system. And all the festivites are enveloped by a breathtaking October landscape. “It’s the highlight of my fall season,” Clark tells me. “It’s a really special event.”
This year, the races are on October 14. Find more information at genseevalleyhunt.org.
John Ernst is a writer, hiker, and gamer born and raised in Rochester; more info at nerdofearth.com.