Camden could be coolest small town
Camden — Camden is in the running to be named the coolest small town in America. Director of Community and Economic Development Brian Hodges said Jan. 22 Camden made it through the first round of voting to the top 15 candidates, and is the only Maine town to do so.
"Out of 924 nominations and nearly 97,000 votes, a list of 15 finalists have been announced. Camden, Maine is not only a finalist but is the only town from Maine on the list," according to a press release from Hodges.
"We're confident we are going to land in the top 10 of 15," he said, adding as of Jan. 22, Camden was closing in on the No. 9 spot. "We're really excited about it and we think we're going to do well."
Hodges said the title of "Coolest Small Town" is not the only benefit of the contest. He said the contest offers national publicity and has drawn support from Maine Office of Tourism, WCSH-6 in Portland, Down East magazine, WJBQ radio in Portland, 92 Moose in Augusta as well as local businesses including Lord Camden Inn, Camden Harbour Inn and Fresh restaurant.
"A vote for Camden is a vote for Maine," Hodges said. "It's also understanding what we have to offer here."
The press release lists a number of reasons to vote for Camden, including the fact that Camden is one of only two places where you can alpine ski and see the Atlantic seaboard; it boasts a vibrant downtown full of unique, independently-owned businesses; there are historic sites and buildings educating visitors by way of Quick Response or QR codes using smartphones; Camden is home to a five-star library; home to restaurants featured in the New York Times; historic Camden Opera House, which hosts conferences at a national and international level and is home to U.S. National Toboggan Championships, Camden Windjammer Festival, Watershed School (an accredited, independent non-profit high school) and Camden International Film Festival, which is one of the top 25 independent film festivals in the world. In addition, the release states, Camden is the setting for many movies, including "Peyton Place" and its associated premiere and has previously been recognized with as Prettiest Village, Prettiest Harbor, and Best Opera House by DownEast magazine readers (Readers Choice and Best of the Best awards).
To qualify for the contest, towns of less than 10,000 people were nominated, in Camden's case, Hodges submitted the nomination. He said there was a "groundswell of support" allowing Camden to finish in the top 15 towns.
Voting for the No.1 Coolest Small Town is open until Feb. 15. People are allowed one vote every 24 hours.
"[I want people to] not only vote, vote every day and share with all their friends and [social] network too," Hodges said.
Votes may be submitted directly to the contest website at budgettravel.com/contest/americas-coolest-small-towns-2013,14/ or on the town website's homepage.