When did RBK Become a Tourist Town

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Sofia Rich, Senior Editor

From five Dutch men purchasing Rhinebeck with a few frying pans and knives, Rhinebeck has grown over the centuries into the town we know today. But in the last ten years, the amount of tourism in Rhinebeck has shot up, evidently by the four spas our town has and the newest addition of Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck, stating on their website that they were opening “to serve the NYC Metro Area, the Hudson Valley, and the Albany Capital District.”

According to the New York Times, some call the Hudson Valley the “Hamptons of Upstate New York.” While it’s no question Rhinebeck is an aesthetically lovely place, many locals are asking the question “why are all these people here?” as over the last ten years tourism in Rhinebeck has skyrocketed. According to Mary Kay Vrba, the President and CEO of Dutchess Tourism, Inc., the new influx of people in the area mostly started when Hudson Valley Tourism became an independent company, allowing for an increase in advertisement in 2015. Highlands Current relays that tourism spending was higher than ever as of 2015, increasing 3 percent to 3.5 billion dollars.

Ms. Vrba and I also conversed over the famous Clinton wedding in July of 2010. The wedding between former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea and Marc Mezvinsky took place at our very own Astor Court and many guests stayed at The Beekman Arms. The town was thrilled and welcomed them with open arms. The New York Times stated that “The town turned into a Chelsea Theme Park.” Vllage Pizza was even selling pizza saying ‘I do’ on it in pepperoni. While the article itself criticizes the involvement of the town at the wedding, it just goes to show how many of our citizens were excited about the wedding.

The importance of this event to the town of Rhinebeck might just seem like another celebrity appearance in Rhinebeck, but according to Google Analytics, the number of times Rhinebeck was googled shot up almost ten times in July of 2010, when the two were married.

While we sometimes assume our town’s fame came from its historical achievements, celebrities have had a large effect on our town’s fame. In a 2016 interview between Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jimmy Fallon, Morgan speaks of Samuel’s Sweet’s shop and his part in owning the store after the passing of Ira Gutner. This alone would have been a reason for his fans to flock to RBK, but in his interview, he mentions Sinterklaas and the idea that he might be driving a truck at the parade. Sinterklaas 2017 had one of the town’s largest turnouts with the Daily Freeman reporting over 12,000 people attending the parade.

Now with its own merchandise shop (Rhinebeck 1686 & Company), it can sometimes feel as if our town’s home nature is slipping away, but with our community staying strong at heart Rhinebeck will always stay the small town we all love.