1B ‘Today’ show remarks upset Fountain residents

By Laura Gossman

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

FOUNTAIN — Fountain residents are upset after NBC’s "Today" show travel editor Peter Greenburg told viewers Tuesday that Fountain has one of "the lamest claims to fame."

Fountain, which is about 30 miles south of Rochester, calls itself "The Sink Hole Capitol of the U.S.A." (sic) and has several sinkholes in its city limits.

"Some slogans are outright exaggeration or total absurdities — this qualifies as absurdity," Greenburg said about the town’s slogan. He warns travelers of several cities across the U.S. in his new book "Don’t Go There!"


A group of women in the Preston-Fountain Red Hat Society met at the Village Square of Fountain for lunch Wednesday, and all groaned when asked about the "Today Show" segment.

"It would be interesting to know how he came up with that conclusion," Marge Spelhaug, of Fountain, said. "I wonder if this man’s ever been in Fountain, or Minnesota for that matter. "

One woman joked that they should picket bookstores that are selling Greenburg’s book.

The town with fewer than 400 residents is part of the Root River Bike Trail system and is home for businesses such as Willie’s Meat and Grocery, the Village Square of Fountain, Los Gables Mexican Restaurant and Drury’s Furniture.

"People don’t come here just once," Spelhaug said. "They keep coming back."

Fillmore County History Center assistant director Debra Richardson said the news segment has been "the talk of the county."

Richardson recently assisted University of Minnesota students and their professor, Calvin Alexander, with clean-up of a sinkhole near Cherry Grove that had been filled with decades’ worth of trash.

Antique items from that clean-up project have been donated to the history center, which is in Fountain.


"I didn’t know anything about the author or the book," Richardson said. "We’re trying to determine if he’s ever been here."

The "Today Show" showed viewers the city’s brochure, which pictures two children riding bicycles.

Greenburg suggested that children riding bikes there might fall into a sinkhole.

"Didn’t he know we had a bike trail?" Richardson said. "He’s making it out to be funny, but he’s telling people that Fountain isn’t a place to go. Nothing could be farther from the truth."

Richardson said she’d like to invite Greenburg to stop and visit the town.

"We could take him out to a sinkhole and let him know they aren’t a danger to children in the area," Richardson said. "Many kids are fascinated by sinkholes and are eager to learn more about the formations."

Laura Gossman covers news in Olmsted, Dodge, Fillmore and Houston counties. If you have news tips and story ideas, call her at (507) 285-7619.

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