Recently, magazine website www.budgettravel.com started its yearly Coolest Small Towns contest, and it has seen a few entries from Utah. A resident on the website nominated Ogden for the title. But, according to the nomination criteria, Ogden doesn’t qualify.

The website clarified that it is looking for “American towns with a population under 10,000 and a certain something that no place else has: great shops, food, a unique history, a breathtaking location, peerless music scene, art galleries, or maybe something cool we haven’t even thought of yet!”

As we all know, Ogden is a bustling community with a population well over 10,000. Regardless of this contest, and whether Ogden will get cut or not, we think our city is a pretty cool place to live.

Ogden’s rich history is a reason why so many people come back — and why some never leave. Halloween season is here, which is when Ogden becomes a hotspot for enthusiasts of the paranormal. Various paranormal investigators host tours, and participants are encouraged to bring cameras to gather “evidence.”

Locals dressed as zombies or other undead creatures stumble down 25th Street for the Ogden Zombie Crawl. The annual event encourages participants to donate canned goods or warm clothes to St. Anne’s Center. The proceeds from the Kids Halloween Carnival, which follows the crawl, also benefit charity. It’s these quirky seasonal activities that make Ogden a cool place to be around October.

Not everyone is scared of ghosts; some challenge their fear of heights in Ogden. The Hinckley Airport in Ogden is home to a variation of flight lessons, sky diving and helicopter rides. The airport also offers trips to Arizona. Ogden is also a popular rock-climbing destination. The local crag provides year-round recreational opportunities. The local rock-climbing gym and our very own climbing club here at Weber State University are excellent places to get involved.

The city sign says, “It pays to live in Ogden,” and we think it really does. Ogden has a variety of free concerts, festivals and film screenings to keep locals entertained on the cheap. The Harvest Moon Festival, the Xterra Triathlon, the Monday night movies and the farmers market are free summer and fall activities we enjoy.

One member of our staff said Ogden doesn’t intimidate its residents from obtaining their dreams. Educational opportunities here at Weber State University are top-notch, and accessible to community members. Ogden has a strong sense of family and diversity. Many popular family-owned businesses have survived economic downturns and still use their same secret recipes.

Other nominees from Utah on the Budget Travel Magazine included Brianhead, Kanab, Moab, Panguitch, Springdale and Vernal. Park City was also mentioned in the list of more than 200 nominees. Moab is another town in Utah that we can all say is pretty cool. But Ogden still wins because of the skiing and blossoming local music scene.

Other towns in Utah we think are worth a mention are Torrey, located just outside of Capitol Reef National Park, and even our sister city to the north, Logan.

The website will gather all nominations through the end of this year and narrow down the list to 10 winners in February 2014.

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