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Budget Travel magazine tabs Grinnell as third 'coolest' small town in United States

Who said living in a small town like Grinnell is boring? Apparently that is not true! According to a national online survey by “Budget Travel” magazine, Grinnell is the third coolest small town in America.

The announcement was recently made on the CBS-TV “Early Show.” Nina Willdorf, editor in chief of “Budget Travel” magazine, said there is not an exact science to determine a town’s coolness factor, but there were four main factors to look for: a population of less than 10,000; good food and coffee; more art galleries than country stores, and a realization among those who moved away that they made a mistake.

Apparently Grinnell and Iowa residents felt the college town of 9,205 fit the bill.

According to Willdorf during an interview with “Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith, Grinnell had the “quirkiness of a college town with the charm of a rural community; (Grinnell has) great coffee shops, really serious food and cool clothes.”

Mayor Gordon Canfield said he has always known Grinnell was a cool town and has always appreciated its qualities.

“I learned that most small towns have unique attributes that set them apart from the others, but each time I returned home (to Grinnell), I came to appreciate even more that Grinnell is a special place,” he said.

Grinnell’s nomination is something all Iowans should take pride in, said Canfield.

“It is important to note that Grinnell’s honor of being one of the top three “Coolest Small Towns in America” is really an honor for all Iowans no matter where they live in our great state,” he added.

Grinnell was nominated by Poweshiek Iowa Development executive director Bill Menner. Menner said he receives a regular newsletter from the magazine when he saw the announcement for the contest.

“It occurred to me that what they were looking for is exactly what Grinnell has,” he said.

Grinnell boasts a historical museum, an art gallery, a community theater, a public library, a municipal band, several restaurants and unique shops and Grinnell College, which hosts several cultural exhibits, symposiums and performances. More than 101,000 votes were cast in the contest and Grinnell received 9,233, out-polling the next closest community by 1,300 votes.

The top 10 coolest towns in order are:

• Owego, N.Y. (not Oswego, N.Y.)

• Rockland, Maine

• Grinnell, Iowa

• Vevay, Ind.

• Huntingdon, Pa.

• Onancock, Va.

• Jim Thorpe, Pa.

• Mineral Point, Wis.

• Silverton, Ore.

• Port Royal, S.C.

The “Budget Travel” Web site,, is currently highlighting the 10 communities. The October issue of “Budget Travel” magazine will feature reviews and images of Grinnell and the other towns in the top 10. For more information on Grinnell and upcoming town events visit the Web site

UPDATED April 28, 2009 3:49 PM

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