From the power of a turtle-crossing sign to the secret of the “Coon Mountain panther,” from the healing potential of a hike to the 1.5 tons of Vidalia onions sold in Willsboro, the 11 final entries for the second CATS Travel Writing Contest offer a taste of the riches that the Champlain Valley offers.
“We invite everybody to visit our website, read the articles, and vote for their favorite,” said Chris Maron, executive director of CATS. “People can read the stories describing trails, local businesses, and the enjoyment of this area at our website (www.champlainareatrails.com).”
CATS initiated the contest with the purpose of promoting economic vitality through outdoor-recreation-based tourism. “These days people research vacation destinations online, so as they look into visiting the northeast, we want them to see these articles about New York’s Champlain Valley and get inspired to come here, enjoy the outdoors, patronize local businesses, and tell others about this beautiful area,” said Maron.
“We received a great mix of stories,” said contest coordinator, Gretel Schueller. “We wanted them to describe activities they enjoy here—hiking, paddling, eating at restaurants, visiting historic sites, and more. We wanted articles with photos that portray the beauty and vitality of this special place. And we got that.”
The first place winner will be chosen by North Country Public Radio reporter Brain Mann and will receive a $500 prize; the writer with the most online votes receives the $250 People’s Choice Prize, “so that’s why we want a lot of people to vote,” added Schueller. The prizes are paid from a grant CATS received to promote economic vitality.
“This is the second in a series of travel writing contests,” said Maron. “The next contest will begin soon, so we encourage people to visit the Valley, do something outdoors, patronize local businesses, take photos, and then write about it.”
Online voting began May 9 and ends on May 24, 2012. To vote, go to www.champlainareatrails.com, read the stories, and click on “Vote Now.”
Champlain Area Trails is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to develop hiking/skiing trails that link Champlain Valley communities, connect people to nature, promote economic vitality, and protect habitat and scenic vistas.