BARTLETT — Local residents are disputing a story posted as a piece of internet click bait that dubbed Bartlett as “the most boring” town in New Hampshire.
People counter that Bartlett offers a lot of fun stuff to do from Story Land to Attitash.
The story, by Alex Daniel, was posted on bestlifeonline.com and was later picked up by MSN on Feb. 20. BestLife describes itself as “a site for men who want to live to the fullest. It’s the definitive resource for health tips, advice on accumulating wealth, food tips and tricks, notes on sex and style — everything you need to get you the body and the life you want.”
The story was illustrated with a photo of Bartlett showing pumpkin people posed by some old farm equipment and hay bales. The Bartlett Covered Bridge Gift Shoppe is in the background.
Daniels wrote: “Drawing on data from the U.S. Census and American Community Survey, we examined which places in each state have the highest median ages, fewest number of things to do, and lowest population density – making it a decent chance you’ll have trouble finding tons and tons of fun.”
He found that Bartlett, with a population of 2,788, has a density of 37.03 people per square mile, a median age of 50.1, a percentage of population over 65 of 22.7 percent, a percent of family house holds of 58.3, six entertainment spots and 31 hotels and restaurants.
Maine’s most boring town was reported as Dover-Foxcroft. It has a population of 4,077, a density of about 57 people per square mile and a median age of 49.5. Dover-Foxcroft has three entertainment spots and eight restaurants.
Bartlett police blew the whistle on the offending story on Tuesday. Cpl. Ian MacMillan on Facebook tried to tag every “business and attraction” in Bartlett, but Facebook limited him to 50.
“I don’t care if you are Left, Right or somewhere in between, but this lovely bit from MSN is just plain, Fake News,” said MacMillan. “Boring? Not. One. Bit. I’ll gladly offer up Hart’s Location in exchange. There is just so much to do here, even if you aren’t a flatlander.”
The Sun took comments from the business community and others. Perhaps no one hit back harder than Janice Crawford, executive director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. She said MSN is wrong and the story tarnishes its credibility.
“Obviously, their criteria did not take into consideration Bartlett’s low property tax rate, stellar school, delicious restaurants, ski area and Nordic centers, access to the white mountain national forest, scenic rides, swimming holes, lodging choices and the people,” said Crawford.
“Where else can you find a restaurant with a caboose, a model train running around the top tier of the wall, a historical society refurbishing an old church, forward-thinking citizens developing a community gathering place for the future, Story Land and an aquarium, a florist who survived a lightning hit, entrepreneurs who survived bankruptcy and fires, and keep on growing? The best red berry-picking for winter bouquets, sap houses and turns into the north pole when necessary.
“Not to mention the rich and famous who shall remain nameless because we respect our people unlike MSN.”
Story Land’s Lauren Hawkins said not only is Story Land is geared to children 2-12 and their families, there’s plenty of other activities to do in town like hiking, skiing and kayaking. MSN doesn’t realize how much there is to do in this area,” she said.
Rep. Anita Burroughs (D-Bartlett) also pushed back in an email to the Sun.
“Bartlett boring?? Never,” said Burroughs. The reasons she listed: Some of the best cross-country skiing in the state, downhill skiing at Attitash, kayaking and tubing.
The White Mountain National Forest, Story Land, Diana’s Baths, hiking and snowshoeing. And home to some of the most interesting people in the state.
“It’s perplexing how anyone who has spent time here would consider Bartlett to be boring. There’s actually too much great activity to choose from!” she said.
However, Bartlett Selectman and former Speaker of the House Gene Chandler was fine with keeping the town’s interesting status a secret.
“That’s fine, life is kind of laid back here,” he said.