As loyal readers (all four of you) will recall...Today Show Travel Host Peter Greenberg insulted the tiny town of Fountain by including it in his book "Don't Go There."
Rip-and-Read made some hay by imagining an "It's A Wonderful Life" style debate between Greenberg as mean old Mister Potter and George Baily sticking up for the small town. We also posited that, if Mr. Greenberg didn't mend his Elitist Big City Media Ways, that champion of "Real" America, Sarah Palin, would come and get him in 2012.
This didn't go over well with one reader. And, upon reflection, Rip-and-Read can't really blame them...after all, Fillmore County voted against Bush in 2004 as well as for Obama in 2008...so there was no need to bring the Dragon Lady into it other than the fact that I was, quite honestly, stuck for a closing.
But there was a bright ray of Sunshine in all of this. Yesterday, I got a really nice comment from Debra Richardson of the Fillmore County History Center. Debra was quoted in the original article which first caught my attention, and I reprint her comment here on the front page:
This is Fountain's "Fillmore County History Center" Assistant Director, Debra, checking in with a comment. Viewing statistics for our website, I noted the incoming link from your blog.
Firstly, welcome to Minnesota. Secondly, I'd like to extend a welcome to Fillmore County and the village of Fountain, in particular.
We'd love for you to visit our museum. Over the past year, we’ve had 1500 people sign our guest book. Many are from the tri state area- but we’ve had visitors from all over the country- even from...Wasilla Alaska! And no, it was not Gov. Palin, though she would be most welcome. As would be any politician, travel writer, or radio advertising producer. Mr. Greenberg's brouhaha is not colored red or blue. History, sinkhole topography, and tourism are strictly non-partisan...and beyond borders. We’ve welcomed visitors from London, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, and Liberia West Africa. It is frequently commented that our facility ranks up amongst the best museums in the country. Recently, an elder hostel group stopped in on a tour. One of the gentlemen took me aside to say that he’s been to all the renowned American museums and yet it was his opinion that the scope and condition of artifacts in our little museum in a tiny town on the Midwestern prairie shine amongst the best.
As to Mr. Greenberg, he obviously doesn't know a sinkhole from a hole in the ground. We'd love the opportunity to change his view, and viewpoint. Sinkholes are just one of those things you must experience firsthand to be able to comment intelligently upon.
As a natural formation, their very presence provides scientific data and research opportunities. As a unique part of southeast Minnesota's landscape, they're rich in history and lore.
Your “It's a Wonderful Life” clip voice over was clever. We have sinkholes; we also have a sense of humor. No offense taken. However, we do take offense to mistruths broadcast to the nation about our town and published by an author out to sell books, utilizing belittlement and controversy as a means to do so.
That said, we're expecting this sudden national exposure might be to our benefit. As a nonprofit, our limited operating budget doesn't allow the luxury of out-of-area advertising. We couldn't put ourselves on the map; therefore, in that respect we appreciate the backhanded shout-out from Mr. Greenberg.
On behalf of Fountain, Minnesota, I invite you to come visit us, Alex. There's a welcome mat, your choice of sinkholes, and small town hospitality awaiting your arrival.
Despite my cheap humor, Fountain had already managed to make my list of "Must Visit" places...I actually DO want to see the sink holes...and I also want to know more about the political history of this corner of Minnesota's First District.
But, now, after Debra's gracious comments- it's moved up near the top of the list...AND I'm bringing friends AND I hope that everybody who reads Mr. Greenberg's book decides to do the same.
So, once I come back with pictures- there will be (at least) one MORE report about Fountain and the history center.