The History Award of Distinction recognizes businesses and organizations that provide phenomenal and innovative offerings to visitors and contribute to a “Storied Experience” for travelers coming to Dutchess. 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 Site Director Rick Soedler of Brinckerhoff House Historic Site, Mount Gulian Historic Site Executive Director Elaine Hayes and Troutbeck Managing Director John Sheedy to learn more about each finalist.
Rick Soedler, Brinckerhoff House Historic Site: The people who have come before me, who had the passion, love, dedication and drive to see the great potential in saving the historic structures on our site for our future generations.
Elaine Hayes, Mount Gulian Historic Site: Mount Gulian’s mission, and our actions and events, are specifically targeted to educate the public about the American narrative that unfolded here in Dutchess County. That narrative includes the story of the Verplanck family in colonial times, as Patriots during the American Revolution, as a founding family of democracy in NY State, and their journey from slave-holders to abolitionists and reformers. It’s a very inspiring story, one that affects all our programming and the way we interact with organizations, businesses and political leaders in the region. This is the birthplace of the Society of the Cincinnati, our nation’s first veterans’ organization. The New York Cincinnati is headquartered here, so we have a real responsibility to tell the American narrative respectfully and with full import. As we’ve seen in the last few years, democracy is under attack, so we are inspired to be a bastion of patriotism and public education about the core American values that evolved right here. That inspires me.
John Sheedy, Troutbeck: Troutbeck’s heritage and its cultural and natural landscape. Troutbeck is again, what it was to many before us: inspiration, respite, restoration, folly, community, nature and nurture – carrying forward its 250 year legacy of hospitality.
Rick Soedler, Brinckerhoff House Historic Site: This past year I spent the majority of my time alone with a small handful of dedicated volunteers. Most of our annual events were canceled. However, where there is a will there's a way, using our tech resources and 3-acre outdoor space. We did follow through with one big event last September following all the local CDC recommendations. Despite all the regulations we were asked to follow, we pulled off a very successful event, which would not have happened without our volunteers.
Elaine Hayes, Mount Gulian Historic Site: While many museums shuttered their doors, we did everything we could to stay operational. We had much help from Board trustees, volunteers and limited staff, and we were able to successfully receive two PPP loans, as well as receive significant emergency funding from members and local business allies. We were able to create some virtual-learning videos for schools, develop new programs and even rebuild the colonial-style fence around the property and carry out other maintenance work, so that we reopened in April 2021. We also completely refreshed our www.mountgulian.org website. Mount Gulian has proven to be quite resilient during these times of COVID-19.
John Sheedy, Troutbeck: We have focused on our outdoor spaces for programming, events and food service. This has allowed us to continue our business of creating high-end experiences in a natural outdoor environment for our guests.
Rick Soedler, Brinckerhoff House Historic Site: That we continue to see visitors flock to our County. Not only for its rich history but for all the unique travel opportunities that it has to offer.
Elaine Hayes, Mount Gulian Historic Site: I am optimistic about tourism in Dutchess and the numbers bear this out. After being stuck at home due to the virus, more people are venturing out on day trips and short, safe vacations to be outdoors and get back to normal. Working with other tourist organizations and museums, I’ve seen a new sense of excitement and urgency to create dynamic events and programming that will bring in the public. Dutchess certainly has the tourist infrastructure, leadership and key location destinations to emerge from the pandemic in a good position.
John Sheedy, Troutbeck: That we continue to proudly market Dutchess County as a premium experience for transient, and both social and corporate group markets within 2 hours of New York City.