By Sophie Bassard and Lyla Laffin, Staff Writers
The quaint town of New Paltz is typically filled with college students and residents, but as soon as October hits, streets are clogged with people from all over New York. Once temperatures drop to the 60s and there’s just a hint of red in the trees, tourists from all around waste no time rushing upstate for their festive fall experience. From apple picking to hiking, New Paltz offers lots of activities appealing to people of all ages. Of course, these leaf peepers benefit farms and businesses in the area, but at the same time, their addition to town adds hundreds of cars slowing down the streets. Someone who lives just outside of town will need to leave half an hour early to avoid being late.
While many residents of New Paltz think of these leaf peepers as just annoying tourists; others with jobs in the area see them as an opportunity for more money and economic growth for the town. We interviewed Isabel Loyer, a student from New Paltz High School, who works part-time at Hurds Family Farm. This location is known for being a “hotspot” for tourists during this season. We asked Loyer the following questions. “Do you think you can tell the difference between locals and tourists and if so, how?” and “Now that it is fall have you noticed an increase in customers/business?”
“Definitely,” says Loyer, employee at Hurds Family Farm, responding to the first question, “A lot of city people have fancier credit cards and really nice cars. Also, license plates can say a lot when someone is coming from Connecticut or New Jersey. Honestly, most locals don’t go to this farm very much, because it’s more for activities and the experience. Locals could take a 10 minute drive and get that for free. However, when locals do come, they definitely come dressed and prepared to be on a farm, not a stroll through the city.”
“As fall progresses,” she continues, “the leaves change color, the weather gets cooler, it gets busier and busier. Every weekend I notice a significant difference in the amount of cars that come in. Also, less locals come later in the season because they know all the city folks want to come in prime time for the best experience, so they usually come before the season really starts.”
Employees are not the only ones making money this busy season. Fall is also one of the busiest times for business owners.
“It definitely impacts business because there is a runoff from visiting the area,” says Clare Hussain, owner of Rūna, a french bistro located in the town of New Paltz “and then looking for something to eat before hitting the road. Transient guests are also staying the night/weekend, so they are in need of an eatery as well. Although I am a relatively new restaurant owner in town, it is very noticeable. I have seen a summer boom, due to visitors renting homes, and a little bit of a lull when kids return back to school. Then this time of year, the end of September and early October, where the weather is perfect and activities like apple picking draw the fall/leaf-peeping visitors.”
“New Paltz is such a special destination where it manages to accommodate so many interests and likes, but as a local resident, I can understand the frustration such as heavy traffic when you want to run errands on the weekend. “Clare Hussain, owner of Runa
In addition, we asked Clare for her personal view on the number of visitors we get each fall. She explains how, “as a business owner that directly benefits from the visitors, I am absolutely for it. New Paltz is such a special destination where it manages to accommodate so many interests and likes, but as a local resident, I can understand the frustration such as heavy traffic when you want to run errands on the weekend. It is also disheartening to hear that a lot of locals do not come into town during the weekends. And of course the elephant in the room, COVID is still concerned with the new DELTA variant, which makes people feel a little more on edge when there is so much transient movement.”