It’s got it all, Feb. 2, 2015

Published 6:13 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

WP-MAIN-STREET-TRAFFICLast year, Budget Travel announced the kick-off for its annual America’s Coolest Small Town contest, with Washington being one of the qualifying towns. Having a population of less than 10,000 people and plenty of special features made it a competing candidate.

Through months of voting, Washington was nominated as one of the top 15 in the nation, and now, as of Wednesday evening, it was in fifth place behind Grand Marais, MN, Chincoteague, Va; Hillsborough and Fort Myers Beach, Fla. Now, it is up to Washingtonians and other supporters and fans of the small eastern North Carolina river town to see this thing through.

The contest seeks towns with populations of less than 10,000 people and “a certain something that no place has: great shops, food, a unique history, a breathtaking location, peerless music scene, art galleries or maybe something cool we have thought of yet,” according to the Budget Travel website. But looking at the requirements, one who lives or frequents Washington would know at first sight that it has all of these qualities.

Washington is known throughout eastern North Carolina and beyond as a town that has many quaint, specialty shops that draw shoppers from all around. There are also many great restaurants and even a seafood shack to get great-tasting local cuisine.

Washington definitely has a unique history — from its days as a hub of shipping and commerce to the days of the lumberyards that helped build the area.

And almost everyone in the area knows that it was the first town in the United States to be named after Gen. George Washington, although he never visited. This is just a fraction of the unique history that is Washington — just take a look at the cannon balls wedged into the sides of homes on Water Street that came from Civil War engagement. Washington also has a breathtaking location, resting right on the scenic Pamlico River where the saltwater meets freshwater, making it a prime fishing location.

As far as the peerless music scene is concerned, Washington is known in the area for its monthly Music in the Streets event that brings area talent to its streets for performances, not to mention several local bands. And Washington is steeped in art talent. Despite the closing of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, the artists who called it home still live here, and the Turnage Theater, which houses the Beaufort County Arts Council, has frequent art shows, live performances and music events. And one can’t forget Art Walk, an event that highlights Washington’s art community. This is also a good excuse to indulge in the town’s food scene.

When it comes to that extra-special something, Washington could be highlighted for several things — it has a rich history of hauntings; just ask Terry Rollins, who conducts Ghost Walks through the town. One could also take a look at Washington’s rich history in athletics, having raised several professional athletes. One could go on and on and on about Washington, which is truly a unique, versatile town.

It is quite understandable how Washington could be in the top five of the coolest small towns in America. However, it’s not over just yet. Lynn Wingate, Washington’s tourism-development director, lists the following details that Washington supporters need to know:

• You may vote once a day, per IP address. To vote, visit and click on the contest icon.

• Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are being monitored for activity about the contest. Tag photographs and posts with #ACST2015 or #littlewashngtonnc.

• Share this contest with friends, family members and co-workers. Anyone may vote for Washington.

• Voting ends Feb. 25.

Good luck, Washington.