By Patrick McArdle
A visit from a few Pennsylvania school teachers this week could mean a lot more visitors to the Rutland area next year, after their visit, filmed for the cable television show “Road Trip Masters” airs on the Discovery Channel’s “Destination America.”
Nick Kessler and Brian Fulmer, the hosts of the show, visited the Rutland area last week, staying at the Red Clover Inn in Mendon and eating at Table 24 in downtown Rutland.
Next they planned to visit the Killington Adventure Center. The area’s marble museum, in Proctor, was also on the itinerary.
Kessler and Fulmer, who teach at the Parkland School District in Pennsylvania during the school year, say they hope their show is different than others that tour American towns.
“We’re from small towns, Brian and I, back home in Pennsylvania, and we want to represent those towns to the nation,” Kessler said.
“We want to stay away from the popular tourism spots. That’s not what our show is about,” he said. “It’s about hitting that open road, getting off at that exit and exploring the small-town Americana that is still alive and vibrant in America — that classic storybook town when you roll in.”
During a 30-minute episode of “Road Trip Masters,” viewers will get the information they need to know if they want to visit themselves.
“What we try to do is go in and summarize an area, a town, that perhaps other shows might not. We feature a unique place to stay, a unique place that summarizes the area to eat, an action/adventure and something that you have to do when you come to the area,” Kessler said. “Basically, it’s a summation for a viewer to consider the town as a possible vacation destination in their family planning stages of going somewhere.”
Fulmer said he thinks one advantage is that their team is just him, Kessler and their cameraman, Dave Manzo. The small crew tries to make their presence the “least intrusive as possible”
“We try to capture everything as though, if you would come here, you could say, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly how I saw it on TV,’” he said.
Mary Cohen, executive director of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was “thrilled” to have the visit.
“This is a terrific opportunity to show off the Rutland Region — something we don’t do enough of. There is so much to do here in the summertime,” she said by email.
In the first season, the show visited places such as Newport, Rhode Island; Annapolis, Maryland; Lake Placid, New York; and the Pocono Mountains and Gettysburg in Pennsylvania.
For the second season, Kessler and Fulmer decided they wanted to make some stops in Vermont. Earlier last week they filmed in Brattleboro, before coming north to Rutland. “It’s not just wintertime, and that’s what we want to get out about Rutland,” Kessler said. “Beautiful downtown district and beautiful activities that (you) can do year-round that are in the surrounding mountains.”
As of last Thursday, Kessler said his impression of Rutland so far was that it was “absolutely gorgeous.” He complimented the city’s fire station, which he had just seen, as fitting Vermont’s aesthetic. “(The city) fits the show format perfectly,” Kessler said.
Kessler and Fulmer will plan their second season in the fall, but said there will be separate episodes for Brattleboro and Rutland. The second season is expected to run from January through June.
Kessler said he hoped the visit from “Road Trip Masters” and the episode that results will be good for Rutland. He said he and Fulmer wanted to be “the voice” for small towns that hope to attract tourists.
“So many times we get fixated on going to the repeat places year after year, and that’s fine,” he said. “What we want to do, we want to give you other options.”
While touring Table 24, Kessler said being the host of the show has taught him that great restaurants can be found in many places, and not just in the most popular tourist destinations.
Fulmer pointed out the team had a fourth member: A 1969 Cadillac convertible with the show’s logo. Fulmer said Kessler, the owner of the car, had always wanted to own a Cadillac from the year he was born. Both said the Cadillac was an icebreaker and conversation starter that helped them find new friends in the towns they visit. While filming season two, Fulmer said they would be as far north as Rutland and as far south as Georgia. “We’re gonna put some miles on the Caddy,” he said.