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Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Dutchess County Executive's Award for Overall Distinction

Date Published: September 22, 2021

Congratulations to the Dutchess County Executive's Award for Overall Distinction Finalists!

Revel 32, Poughkeepsie
Sloop Brewing Co., East Fishkill
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation - Taconic Region, Dutchess County

The Award for Overall Distinction, selected by the Dutchess County Executive, recognizes a business or organization that has made significant contributions in making Dutchess a premier destination. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 8th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie. Read more about the event here.

We chatted with Gina Sullivan, a partner behind Revel 32, Sloop Brewing Co. President Adam Watson and Linda Cooper, Taconic Regional Director for NYS Parks and Recreation to learn more about each finalist.

What about your business/organization inspires you?

Gina Sullivan, Revel 32: After each event whether private or one of our own Revel events, we are inspired to do more! We love the feedback we hear and always are energized to make the next one even better. We are inspired to share this incredible building and business with the community. In a short time, and throughout a pandemic, we have been able to share our space and events with so many organizations and other businesses. The events we create have sold out almost consistently and fill a niche in our community. We love that our space can be used for private and/or public events and that anyone can hold and/or come to an event here and see this historic building which had been previously (since 1895) a private-only building. When we hear people at our events thank us for what we bring to the City of Poughkeepsie it inspires us to keep going. As difficult as it’s been during the pandemic, knowing the appreciation and having the support of our community is energizing. We love seeing people turn up on Thursday nights to our live music block party series on Cannon Street. There is so much we can do to help continue to make the City of Poughkeepsie great and turn the narrative and we are inspired to continue to do so. To summarize, we are inspired to do more because the possibilities are endless, the community appreciates what we are doing, and there is a need for interesting, cultural, fun, and exciting things to do in Dutchess County.

Adam Watson, Sloop Brewing Co.: I enjoy being part of creating a team that is passionate about what they do. Additionally, seeing customers get excited about our product is very inspirational. 

Linda Cooper, NYS Parks and Recreation: What really inspires us is the passion that people have for our public spaces and the commitment of our staff, who are equally passionate, to keep those spaces beautiful and safe for everyone to enjoy. We welcome a diverse community of visitors to our facilities every day. Whether it’s exercising, playing, hiking, learning something new, or just relaxing, we offer something for everyone. It’s always inspiring to see someone fall in love with our parks and historic sites and create new memories.

What has this past year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about the resiliency of your business/organization and staff?

Gina Sullivan, Revel 32: We couldn’t be prouder of our staff. Resiliency is an understatement.  We made a very conscious decision to do EVERYTHING in our power to remain open, be safe, create new experiences, hire as many people as we could, and use the time to further develop our business.  While our business model had to adjust, we pivoted better than anyone.  We found safe ways to do business and added more than 20 events (since all private events were canceled). Our staff followed all protocols and never wavered in their commitment to Revel 32. We partnered with as many local businesses as possible to help them have a larger space to conduct business and did so with a financial split which helped them tremendously. We did this with Essie’s Restaurant, 1915 Wine Cellar, King’s Court Brewing, Ryan Dutcher Illusionist, Eddie Showser Comedy, Chef David Burke, Simply Gourmet, Bardavon Opera House, Café 40 and more than 15 musicians and bands. We have an amazing staff and are proud to say we added staff, a general manager, and everyone worked feverishly to help create experiences, work with brides, and other charities, etc.  

We also included fundraising efforts which raised more than $3,000 for the Bardavon Opera House, $500 for the Grace Smith House, and donated our space for Together WE RISE, a kick-off event celebrating the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, and other non-profit causes.  Although challenging, we couldn’t have done it without our partners and incredible staff.

Adam Watson, Sloop Brewing Co.: It was humbling to see how the staff at Sloop responded to how the pandemic affected the business. On the production side, we had to immediately pivot away from all draft products to 100% cans.  This is much easier said than done from a logistical standpoint. Our sales staff had to adapt to sell this change in inventory. Our restaurant, as did all hospitality businesses, had to pivot in many ways as well — from entirely shutting down for two weeks, to organizing, to accommodating to-go and delivery services under a new menu. The staff at Sloop has been outstanding throughout all of this.  

What are your hopes for the future of travel in Dutchess County?

Gina Sullivan, Revel 32: To continue to find uncovered gems and share them with the world. There are many obvious places to visit in Dutchess, but I think there is more for visitors to discover. Food tours through some of the smaller towns always pops into mind.  People love experiences, I’d love to see more of them created and offered to all parts of the county.  From personal experience, I find it hard to get people from the eastern side of the county to the western side. So many great eateries, breweries, galleries, etc. I would love to bridge that small gap on a local level.

Adam Watson, Sloop Brewing Co.: I believe that tourism in Dutchess County will rebound consistently with the overall recovery post-pandemic.  Overall, I very much believe that the amount of offerings this county has, specifically food and beverage as well as natural beauty, will continue to make this place thrive.  

Linda Cooper, NYS Parks and Recreation: We hope the travel industry in Dutchess County continues to see more organized groups (busses) coming back.  We all have so much to offer. The social media outreach Dutchess Tourism does is amazing. People are looking, not just for a place to go, but for an adventure. The itineraries on the DTI website are a great way for visitors to plan their trip and State Parks is pleased to be a part of so many of them.

Photo Credit (Bottom Right): Drone shot of Staatsburgh State Historic Site by Chris Rickard.

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