In a mock "Madness" event, outdoor fans voted four North Georgia State Parks into a fantasy final four, then selected one as their state champion.
Dreamed up by outdoors shop and online retailer Wander North Georgia to celebrate Georgia state parks, 16 North Georgia state parks were placed into a tournament-style bracket. Over the course of two weeks, outdoors fans voted on social media for their favorites in head-to-head competitions until only four remained. The event coincided with the NCAA basketball tournament, which owns copyrights to the terms March Madness and Final Four.
The four finalists included west Georgia parks Cloudland Canyon and Vogel, and east Georgia parks Black Rock Mountain and Tallulah Gorge. Fans voted Vogel and Black Rock Mountain into a final matchup of premier parks. Vogel State Park near Blairsville, GA, was selected by 52.1% of participating outdoor fans as the eventual champion. That final match-up was a rematch of 2021, which was won by Black Rock Mountain.
In recognition of the selection, Wander North Georgia is donating $500 to Friends of Georgia State Parks, a charitable service organization which supports and helps to promote Georgia's state park system.
Nearly 20,000 votes were cast through social media in the tournament "contests." Josh Brown, co-owner at Wander North Georgia, said the goal of the event was to "highlight some of the lesser known parks while shining a light on the awesome Georgia State Park system."
"The idea was to celebrate the many state parks we have in North Georgia. The best thing to come out of this is hearing so many people share that they learned about a new state park that they can't wait to visit now. Plus, everyone enjoyed hearing the stories from participants of what state park they love and their great memories associated with it," Brown added.
Wander North Georgia plans to return the event in 2023, perhaps opening it to all Georgia state parks.
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