2022 Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Dutchess County Executive's Award for Overall Distinction
Date Published: September 14, 2022
Congratulations to the Dutchess County Executive's Award for Overall Distinction Finalists!
Adams Fairacre Farms, Poughkeepsie & Wappingers Falls
Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Tivoli
Winnakee Land Trust, Rhinebeck
The Dutchess County Executive's Award for Overall 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 9th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction breakfast at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, NY. Read more about the event here.
Learn more about each finalist from Adams Fairacre Farms Marketing Director Wendy Troncone, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park former Chief Executive & Artistic Officer Sonja Kostich and Winnakee Land Trust Executive Director Bob Davis.
What about your business/organization inspires you?
Wendy Troncone, Adams Fairacre Farms: One thing is its longevity without losing its heart. Adams Fairacre Farms humble beginnings in 1919 when Ralph and Mary Adams bought 50 acres of farmland in Poughkeepsie set the stage for the success we have as a company today. Their values, attention to quality, dedication to community and customer service were passed on to family and employees throughout the years and are still alive and well today, inspiring everything we do. The farm stand idea and feel is woven into each of our 4 — and soon to be 5 — stores, and a big part of that is the staff: they're friendly and knowledgeable, ready to help. They love working here, being part of a family, and it shows. A lot of our employees have worked here for 10, 20, even 40 years! You can see the growth and necessary innovations it requires and it's exciting, but Adams still has its genuine charm because it pays homage to the family's farm roots. That helps give our stores a warm, personal feeling you just don't get much today.
Sonja Kostich, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: Everyone involved with Kaatsbaan—staff, board, artists, students, audience, supporters — have their unique personal stories that drew them to the arts. This collection of narratives makes the organization rich, varied and diverse, informing our working relationships, decision-making and the programming that we offer to the public.
Bob Davis, Winnakee Land Trust: We are inspired by the feedback Winnakee receives from visitors to our trails and preserves. Whether it is someone who goes to Burger Hill regularly for sunsets or a family that drove up from NYC to see the fairy houses at Vlei Marsh, hearing from the community about the ways our programming has a positive impact on them energizes us to do more. The way the outdoors provided a way for people to connect to each, and the world around us, during the pandemic only reinforced our excitement to offer more meaningful outdoor experiences.
Winnakee strongly believes that collaborative partnerships make us more effective. They are also just fun. These partnerships have become a central part of programming, highlighting each other’s missions to achieve greater success of our interconnected goals to make conservation work last. Another goal of this programming is to help lead the next generation of conservationists to ensure our local forests can sustain growing challenges ahead. Building a network of collaborative stakeholders in revitalizing our landscapes is vital to lasting stewardship of protected lands.
Finally, we are inspired by the people we work with—our staff and board—who are committed to Winnakee’s mission to protect and steward our beautiful and ecologically important Hudson Valley lands.
What makes your destination/organization unique?
Wendy Troncone, Adams Fairacre Farms: When you step into any Adams store you're aware it's going to be a special experience. Even if you don't know the family's farm history, you get a sense of it through the quality and freshness of the produce you see when you enter, that it really matters. And it matters to everyone here, from our in-store butchers to our garden experts, cashiers to office staff. All of our stores have an incredible selection of products you won't find anywhere else, many that have been requested by customers and then added to our shelves. There's a lot of local support from here, too; we're proud to work with so many local farmers and vendors and to be so involved with our community. With roots going so far back in Dutchess County history, local isn't a trend; it's who we've always been. I don't know any other place that creates landscapes inside in winter so customers can enjoy strolling through thousands of spring flowers at our free annual Garden Shows, has always featured local products and just plain makes shopping fun! You get a sense of nostalgia, even if you're younger, because of the products and services we offer and the look and feel of our stores. You know when you come in for a head of lettuce and leave with a cart filled with artisanal cheese, local milk, imported chocolates, gourmet oils, a houseplant, store-cut salmon fillets and our butcher's recipe for perfect spare ribs that shopping here isn't a chore! Some customers are here almost every day, others make it a destination, but you'll always see some gathered in an aisle, chatting or catching up. There's something to be said for a place that's a Hudson Valley tradition, a place that kind of feels like home.
Sonja Kostich, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: The staff and supporters of Kaatsbaan are motivated to sustain our unique platform by the incredible artists who come to our historic, extraordinary site and the opportunity to be part of what they create, perform, and exhibit. Our passion is at work behind the scenes so that the work of artists can profoundly affect visitors and participants.
Bob Davis, Winnakee Land Trust: Part of Winnakee’s mission is to safeguard unique and irreplaceable lands. Dutchess County has some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere. Cherished icons of the local culture such as Burger Hill, offer panoramic views of the defining mountain ranges that surround Dutchess County with just a short hike accessible to all ages. It is one of the best places around to take in a sunset and a premiere sledding destination in winter. Our Vlei Marsh Preserve is the second largest wetland in Rhinebeck with trails along the marsh and forest, and a place for creative programming such as our Woodland Creatures installation and an upcoming Sinterklaas collaboration this November. Winnakee’s Nature Preserve in Hyde Park connects visitors to a landscape that inspired FDR’s love of forestry, and new trails at Saw Kill will soon connect Bard College with the Town of Red Hook, as part of Red Hook’s Village-to-Village Trail Network. In short, Winnakee trails offer something for everyone! Winnakee is committed to bridging more ways for the public to connect and benefit from the bounty of our region.
Also, Winnakee recognizes that forest lands are vital to our region’s ecological and economic well-being. Our FOREVER FORESTS program—to save and restore 10,000 intact forest acres in ten years—is a distinguishing initiative unique to regional land trusts.
What are your hopes for the future of travel in Dutchess County?
Wendy Troncone, Adams Fairacre Farms: That more people outside New York State make Dutchess County a destination, and that they discover what we already know: that the Hudson Valley is a unique, beautiful, bountiful place to call home (and that they visit our stores in Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Newburgh, Wappinger and soon Wallkill, too!
Sonja Kostich, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: That Dutchess County is recognized worldwide as a welcoming access point to artistic excellence with world-class arts and cultural institutions.
Bob Davis, Winnakee Land Trust: We live in one of the most scenic regions in the world. The work that Dutchess Tourism does to connect visitors with our landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture is invaluable. Our unique lands help sustain our local economy by making us a destination for tourists to enjoy hiking, kayaking, picnicking, and the region’s historic viewsheds.
Winnakee sees our community character, quality of life and sustainability as inextricably linked to land protection and stewardship. This is especially true as the challenges we face in land protection – overpopulation of deer in forests, invasives, pests and pathogens, fragmentation, climate change – have evolved and require different solutions if we are to sustain the character of our natural landscapes and desired way of life that accompany them. Winnakee recognizes that, over time, without investment in stewardship, protected lands will not retain their beauty or ecological value. The decisions we make today about protecting these unique assets, will determine how residents and visitors alike tomorrow, will enjoy and be sustained by the natural landscape.
It is Winnakee’s hope that Dutchess County’s beautiful and ecologically important landscapes continue to define and enrich our quality of life and that of visitors who travel here. We are also committed to providing access to these unique places with trails and programs that connect visitors to nature in memorable ways.
« Back to Awards of Distinction