March Madness lasted only a week for The Town of Friendly People in the N.C. League of Municipalities’ inaugural Hometown Showdown contest.
The contest is being held in the form of an NCAA basketball tournament-style bracket, starting with 32 municipalities from four regions across the state to determine the top hometown bragging rights. The League posted photos from each participating hometown on its Facebook page, and the winner of each round is determined by the photo that gains the most likes.
Wallace, a town of nearly 4,000 just off I-40 en route to the beach, upended Zebulon, a town of about 4,600, in the first round that began March 3 and ended Friday at noon. Wallace’s photo of an old mill had 470 likes by Friday afternoon, while Zebulon’s town hall picture garnered 244 likes.
The match went back and forth, with Wallace taking an early lead. By mid-week, the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce and Eastern Wake News were promoting the contest among their followers.
The Eastern Wake News also promoted the contest through a pair of online stories, and a group of locals including Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny and Muddy the Mudcat even joined forces to produce a promotional video for the web Thursday afternoon.
Zebulon’s Facebook community responded to take a slight lead, but it did not last long.
The amount of times the two photos were shared with other Facebook users was also significant. Wallace’s photo had 238 shares to Zebulon’s 58.
“I don’t think it demeans us,” Matheny said of the outcome. “I think it was a very friendly competition, and it goes on from here. I wish Wallace well. You can’t win them all.
“It’s a friendly competition. It’s not like Carolina and Duke.”
With the win, Wallace advanced to the Sweet 16 to face the Oxford, a round one winner over Southern Pines. Other local towns that advanced to the second round are Clayton and Garner, who will face each other in a border battle, and Creedmoor.
The Hometown Showdown competition is aligned with the NCAA men’s tournament so that the top hometown will be named April 7, the same day as the college championship game.