If there's one thing we've learned from the fallout over the Washington Post story that declared Red Lake County the nation's ugliest (we'll call it "Uglygate"), it's that Minnesotans know how to turn a negative into a positive.
This is what Post reporter Christopher Ingraham found out on a recent trip to the northwest Minnesota community, where he was invited after writing an article proclaiming it the nation's "worst place to live" – a conclusion he arrived at using federal data on natural beauty, weather, and access to bodies of water.
What he found there surprised him.
In this week's follow-up article (titled "I called this place 'America's Worst Place to Live.' Then I went there.'"), Ingraham describes how warmly he was received by the locals, who took him on a thorough tour of Red Lake County – a gesture that proves "Minnesota Nice is a verifiable phenomenon."
And so is the forgiveness of Minnesotans, at the tweet below attests:
Even U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson showed up to greet the visitor, serenading him at a local tavern:
The best part of all? The good humor with which the locals had taken the "ugly" declaration, which may be enough to turn Ingraham's proverbial lemons into lemonade.
The writer observed that, since the publication of his article, restaurants and bars had debuted dishes like "ugly burgers" and "ugly wings," while Red Lake Falls had begun considering renaming the 2016 Summerfest the "Uglyfest."
As for the supposed lack of natural beauty that had earned Red Lake County the "worst" distinction to begin with, Ingraham found that you can't always trust federal data – after getting a look at local farms and taking a canoe trip on the Red River, he says the area is "flat-out gorgeous."
Quite a reversal from the original article, which generated considerable backlash on social media – one memorable response came from Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (who, we should point out, is a former comedian):
As perhaps further penance for having slighted a community he ultimately found warm, welcoming and scenic, the
" target="_blank">background photo on Ingraham's Twitter account now features a cinematic shot of the sign that greets drivers when they cross into Red Lake County.