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Who’s got the coolest small town? Berlin, Md., and Cazenovia mayors make a friendly wager

— With barely one week left to go in the Budget Travel “Coolest Small Town in America” contest, the mayors of the top two vote-getting towns — Berlin, Md., and Cazenovia — have made a friendly wager on who will win.

The prize for the victor: craft beer from their hometown brewery.

“They have a local craft brewery there in Berlin that’s very popular, so the winner will receive a growler of beer — for them it’s Burly Oak Brewery, for us it’s Empire Brewing Company,” said Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “We thought this would be simple and inexpensive, but symbolic of both towns’ economies and hospitality industries.”

Wheeler and Berlin Mayor Gee Williams were trading emails last week and finally were able to speak on the telephone on Sunday.

“I think it’s really cool to make the wager. I think we both genuinely wish each town the best,” Williams told the Cazenovia Republican. “I think we each want to win, but this a situation where you can’t lose. It’s already inspired a lot of local pride. This bit of recognition will keep us on course for increased prosperity and quality of life for a good time to come.”

The Budget Travel contest, which has had voting for the winner from the 15 finalist towns ongoing since January, has turned into an exciting and positive experience for both towns, with local residents, politicians and regional tourism officials all getting involved, getting out the word and encouraging everyone to vote once a day for their town.

Cazenovia, which started the finalist voting in fifth place and is now in second place behind Berlin, has received a good amount of regional publicity about the contest, with coverage in both Syracuse- and Utica-area newspapers, television and radio. State Senator David Valesky also supported the contest on his government website and urged people to vote. The editors of budgettravel.com also blogged about Cazenovia’s huge voting turnout and its rise in the contest standings.

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