USA Today held a contest between towns named Springfield all over the country to host the premiere of the Simpsons movie. Springfield, Vermont had not been included and brought it to the attention of the organizers so they got on the list. Springfield, VT, like the state, is a small town with a population of only 9000 and a movie theater with only 100 seats. The other 13 towns were much larger… some are cities.
But tiny Springfield, VT actually won the contest with the most votes — over 15,000. There have been a lot of complaints, mostly among the 21,000 comments to the above USA Today online article. Even an Oregon congressman got in on it although apparently he was just joking around. Springfield, OR was one of the entrants and most likely the true inspiration for the Simpson’s town.
So how did Springfield win with so many more votes than their population?
Even though I have only lived in Vermont for 8 years and will never be considered a true Vermonter (5+ generations required :-)), I can tell you why.
In many ways, Vermont is one big home town. Phish is the “local band” to many. Ben & Jerry’s is “our ice cream” and there are Vermonters who are known to carry a small supply of the “only true” Maple Syrup with them when they travel. Most people who live in Vermont take pride in anything that hails from anywhere in our state. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everything. You’ll find lots of people who are dead-set against Civil Unions, Howard Dean and many other things deemed as the evils of the flatlander infiltration.
But on a different level, this “state spirit” really exists. It was quickly apparent to me after I moved from New York to Vermont. In New York state, it was hard enough to keep up with the entire county that you lived in, much less what was going on elsewhere in the state.
And while I have never been to Springfield VT and had to look on a map to see where it was, I eagerly voted for it because I was voting for Vermont.
That is likely how Springfield got over 15,000 votes. The local daily newspaper in Burlington (Vermont’s biggest city and over 100 miles away) treated this as front page news. The t.v. stations all had stories about it. So people all over Vermont became aware of the competition and many, like me, were proud to put their vote behind our little town. Vermont’s entire population is somewhere around 600,00. Springfield, IL came in second with a little under 15,000 votes. If the same 2.5% of the state of Illinois had voted for their Springfield, they would have had 325,000 votes. If 100% of the residents of Springfield, IL had voted, that would have been over 100,000 votes.
So I am confident that it was state pride that won Springfield, VT this big spotlight of hosting the premiere. I have no idea how they will handle the potential number of people coming into the town for the event. This is probably why they weren’t in the original list. But that will be another story and it will be headline news all over Vermont for days and days.
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