Write An Essay And Win A Historic Vermont Inn

For $150, you could be the proud owner of a rural B&B.

Have you ever wanted to run your very own Stratford Inn, à la “Newhart”? For $150 -- and 250 well-chosen words -- you can make that fantasy a reality.

Doreen Cooney, who has been running the Deerfield Valley Inn in West Dover, Vermont, for 17 years, says she’s ready to move on from the B&B. It’s been a wonderful chapter of her life, she told WCAX-TV, but she's ready to pass the torch.

With the inn valued at $600,000, Cooney says she’s encountered difficulty finding a buyer.

“While a great many people are interested in the B&B lifestyle, many have difficulty financing their dream,” she wrote on the inn’s website.

So, Cooney has decided to employ another, rather unusual, tactic. She’s going to give away the inn to the winner of an essay contest.

The prompt for the contest is “This is my dream: To own and operate a Vermont country inn.” Contestants are given 250 words or less to elaborate; it costs $150 to enter.


According to WCAX, at least 4,000 essays must be received by November 20 for the contest to take place. (That, as some netizens have pointed out, would cover the value of the property.) Cooney says the entry fees for the contest will be refunded to contestants if the minimum number of entries is not received. 

The writer of the winning essay, who will receive the inn and everything in it, “will be contacted by Nov. 30, 2015,” the inn’s website says, “and the transfer of ownership will take place within 45 days.” 

The winner is under no obligation to continue the running of the inn, but Cooney says she hopes the person will consider honoring the tradition. 

“I would hope that they have as much fun with it as I did,” Cooney told WCAX. “You meet some fantastic people. It's a nice lifestyle. This is a great place to live.”

According to the inn's website, the establishment is “a beautiful 9-room country inn, with licensed restaurant, located 2 miles from Mount Snow Ski Resort in southern Vermont. The Inn was built in 1885 as a private residence and is on the National Register of Historic Places.” It has been continuously operated as an inn for over six decades. 

Essay contests to win B&Bs and other smaller-scale establishments are not an e new phenomenon. Earlier this year, for instance, the owner of a Vermont bakery said she would give the place to the person who submitted the best essay and cupcake recipe

Questions of fairness and impartiality have at times emerged regarding these contests.

In June, the Portland Press-Herald reported that an essay contest to win a Maine inn had become a subject of controversy after contestants complained that the competition was unfair. State police who investigated the case, however, ultimately determined that the contest had not violated the state’s consumer protection laws.


Also on HuffPost: