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2023 Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Event

Date Published: September 26, 2023

Congratulations to Bannerman Castle TrustKaatsbaan Cultural Park and ​​​​Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders LLC!

Awards of Distinction Event Category Finalists Spotlight Main Image

Nominees for the Event Award of Distinction hosted events that occurred in Dutchess County that brought in visitors and made a positive impact on the tourism economy. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 10th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park. Read more about the event and purchase tickets here


Read on to learn more about each Event Award of Distinction finalist.

Tell us about your event(s).

Neil Caplan, The Bannerman Castle Trust: Our mission is to bring unique and outstanding tours, theatrical events, concerts, movies and environmental and educational programming to Bannerman Island. We have six Third Sunday Music Concerts held on the third Sunday of each month from May through October. The Bannerman Castle Trust produces three theatrical productions each season (plays and musicals), one in July and two in September. Each season, the BCT presents eight to ten classic and contemporary films on Bannerman Island. The BCT also presents an Annual Farm Fresh Dinner every September on Bannerman Island and, in 2022, started hosting a Titanic-themed dinner, serving a re-creation of the first-class 11-course meal that was served on the Titanic the night the famed ocean liner tragically went down. The BCT has run the Bannerman Island Gallery at 150 Main Street in Beacon since 2005. The gallery concentrates on scenes of the Hudson River Valley and Bannerman Island — showcasing Hudson Valley artists. In 2004, Bannerman Island opened to the public. It wasn’t until 2010 that my dream to present theatre on Bannerman Island became a reality. I was met by the naysayers who told me that it was impossible to do theatre on Bannerman Island. That did not stop me — I was determined to do outstanding theatre on the remote island with no electricity, no water, and no restrooms. 

Tricia Reed, Managing Director, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: This year, an event produced by Baryshnikov Arts and co-presented by Baryshnikov Arts and Kaatsbaan Cultural Park celebrated the 75th birthday of living legend, cultural icon, and Founder and Artistic Director of Baryshnikov Arts, Mikhail Baryshnikov. On June 25, “Mikhail Baryshnikov at 75: A Day of Music and Celebration” brought over 1,200 people to Kaatsbaan for the largest event in its 33-year history. The day featured an afternoon concert on Kaatsbaan’s idyllic 153 acres by some of the most definitive voices in music: American avant-garde artist, composer, and musician Laurie Anderson; Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall; Russian-born American singer, songwriter, and pianist Regina Spektor; and North America’s leading practitioner of Japanese flutes and percussion, Kaoru Watanabe. The program also featured musical performances by Russian rock musician Boris Grebenshikov and choreographer Mark Morris, a work-in-progress performance by Pam Tanowitz Dance, and remarks by actress (and Mr. Baryshnikov’s daughter) Anna Baryshnikov. Works by these artists have inspired Mr. Baryshnikov throughout his life in the United States. Audience members came from New York City, across New York State, neighboring states, and around the globe, including Japan and Russia, to honor and celebrate Baryshnikov’s life’s work and the Baryshnikov Arts community that he has built, which has supported generations of artists while enabling true artistic freedom for so many. 

Paige Flori, Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders: Our Fall HardCore Grand Hard Cider tasting is our largest annual event, showcasing the best of our over 350 bottles and cans of hard cider. We draw customers from as far north as Boston (and sometimes even Maine), as far south as southern New Jersey and as far west as Ohio for our event! Our mission is to showcase the category of hard cider, focusing on Hudson Valley and other New York ciders, and expanding that to U.S. and International options. Our events happen right in our shop, and all ciders are available for purchase.

What excites you about your event or makes it unique?

Neil Caplan, The Bannerman Castle Trust: What better place to hold a special event than on a remote Hudson Valley island with a ruin of a Scottish Baronial castle gracing its landscape! Bannerman Island is an exciting historic ruin with historic pathways and gardens and a restored Bannerman Family residence that now houses a Museum and Educational Center. Bannerman Island hosts two performance spaces. The Tower Lookout overlooks the ruins of the Bannerman Island Arsenal (Castle) and the Helen Bannerman outdoor event space hosts concerts, plays and classic movies. Bannerman Island is a feast for the eyes that presents a variety of public events for people of all ages. Seeing a play, movie, or concert on Bannerman Island is a unique experience that a visitor never forgets. It is extremely exciting to host events and show the public that you can make magic on this enchanted island with its beautiful castle ruins in the Hudson River in the Town of Fishkill.

Tricia Reed, Managing Director, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: As the first partnered event between New York City-based Baryshnikov Arts and Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, “Mikhail Baryshnikov at 75” successfully brought both artists and audiences from around the world to Upstate New York for the largest, most complex event both organizations have taken on, and the largest event ever held in the Village of Tivoli. We were excited to work collaboratively with the prominent Baryshnikov Arts organization to welcome the performing artists, whose artistry and reputations are unparalleled. This significant first step in working with Baryshnikov Arts provided a unique opportunity to work closely with their leadership and staff and co-present a successful shared public event that pushed Kaatsbaan and its Dutchess County community to new levels of creativity, production, and service.

Paige Flori, Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders: Our cider event focuses exclusively on hard cider and apple products — one of the only events that focus on ciders in the area. The event allows customers to experience a wide array of ciders representing much of the total category, often with the cider makers manning the tables to answer questions. In addition, we have one of less than 70 Certified Pommeliers on staff, as well as several Certified Cider Professionals with the expertise and experience to explain the different types of products and pairings to consumers. We are also the only liquor store in New York State with a tap system of hard cider — 13 taps in total, with one in a sculpted and seasonally decorated floor-to-ceiling tree with a tap in the trunk! 


How do you see your event growing in the future?

Neil Caplan, The Bannerman Castle Trust: The Bannerman Castle Trust is currently exploring building a new amphitheater on the north side of the island with Bannerman Castle and the Hudson River as its backdrop. The project will incorporate further stabilizing the castle/warehouse and surrounding historic structures. The project will include rebuilding the original superintendent’s residence that will be used as a museum about the Bannerman Island workers and as a dressing room and backstage area for the amphitheater. The amphitheater would be used for larger concerts that could hold between 200 to 300 visitors. Bannerman Island would then have three performing spaces that will increase our capacity for presenting events on the island and will further encourage heritage tourism in the Hudson Valley — bringing more people to the Beacon and Fishkill areas. As the Executive Director and Founder of The Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc., I am so humbled and proud of all the Bannerman staff, volunteers and Board Members who have worked with me over the years to fulfill my dream to preserve Bannerman Island and to host incredible events and outstanding theatre on Bannerman Island.

Tricia Reed, Managing Director, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park: Because the partnership with Baryshnikov Arts for this co-presentation of “Mikhail Baryshnikov at 75” was such an enriching and successful experience for all involved, we will continue conversations to further develop future annual co-presentations with Baryshnikov Arts, which will further enable us to move forward in our long-term plan of artistic and economic growth. This supports the essential piece of Kaatsbaan’s mission — collaborative efforts to provide singular experiences unique to Dutchess County where the extraordinary Kaatsbaan environment exists to provide cultural innovation and excellence, bringing people together from around the world.  

Paige Flori, Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders: This year's event, happening Sept. 30, will feature a workshop on ice ciders with the founder of Eden Cider, Eleanor Ledger. I see our events including more workshops like this to help customers understand more about the category and how to use it.


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