Do you remember your American Girl doll? Was she Samantha, with the pretty dresses and dreamy Victorian house? Or Molly, the sassy tap dancer who’s always in braids? Could it have been Felicity, the Americana equestrian, or Josefina, the budding musician?
Times have changed since American girl first launched its family of historic dolls in 1986. While the Mattel, Inc. subsidiary still sells many of its most beloved characters, it has adapted to the modern generation of doll lovers with its Girl of the Year line, which launched in 2001. Each year, the brand offers a new doll with a unique story, voice, and contemporary perspective.
In 2019, that doll is from the Hudson Valley. Blaire Wilson is a vibrant local girl who dreams of being a chef and bringing people together. The spirited character lives with her family on Pleasant View Farm, a sustainable farm and bed-and-breakfast in upstate New York. As a relatable character to youths in the Hudson Valley and beyond, Blaire has a newly diagnosed food sensitivity and loves to text her friends.
“We’re proud to introduce fans to our 2019 Girl of the Year, Blaire Wilson — an everyday girl who thrives on using her many talents to make meaningful connections with others,” says Julia Prohaska, the vice president of marketing for American Girl. “In an age where families are often striving for quality time together, we hope Blaire inspires everyone to make a New Year’s resolution to connect more regularly with the important people in their lives and make their time together this year really count.”
As with all American Girl dolls, Blaire comes with a backstory that delves into her passions and everyday challenges. This year, the Hudson Valley girl struggles to balance technology with quality time with friends and family.
Add to that the challenge of helping to plan a wedding at her family’s farm, and Blaire is one busy girl. Her stories, Blaire and Blaire Cooks Up a Plan, provide a meaningful background for the doll, who charms with curly red hair and bright green eyes.
“We’re thrilled that the American Girl Doll of the Year hails from the Hudson Valley on a farm where her family runs a bed and breakfast, grows healthy food, and enjoys the great outdoors,” enthuses Mary Kay Vrba, the president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism. “The area is so rich in culture, history, and agriculture — a vital part of Dutchess County’s tourism industry, so we couldn’t be more pleased that Blaire will help share in what makes this region a great place to live, work, and visit.”
Not only is Blaire from the Hudson Valley, but her storybook author is too. Jennifer Castle, who wrote both books about the character, lives in the Hudson River region and is known for her young adult novels. As a local, she adds authentic, endearing touches to Blaire’s narrative, from her passion for event planning to her role as chicken wrangler on the farm.
Even the farm name is something of an homage to the Hudson Valley. Although somewhat fictionalized, it ties back to not one, but two Pleasant View Farms in the region. In Millerton, Pleasant View Farm is a 600-acre dairy farm that supplies Cabot Cheese. In Brewster, meanwhile, Pleasant View Farm is primarily a 90-acre equestrian estate with horse boarding, care, and training programs.
“In developing Blaire, we wanted to set the character’s story in the northeast, and, given author Jennifer Castle’s connection to the Hudson Valley, it was a natural fit,” explains Susan Jevens, the associate manager of public relations for American Girl.
Blaire launched as American Girl’s Girl of the Year on January 1, 2019. The 18” doll, which comes with the Blaire book, costs $110. Add-ons include a gardening outfit, a piglet, and a handful of event planning accessories, to name a few. Blaire Cooks Up a Plan retails separately at $7.99 per copy. Online, doll owners can visit Blaire’s website to read book excerpts, play games, and check out the farm vlog.