Kenny Hotopp sings the praises of Waterford in this image captured from a video posted on Facebook recently. The original song and the video are part of village-wide effort to convince cable television network HGTV to select Waterford for its Home Town Takeover. 

Locals push to get HGTV to do village makeover

By Tracy Ouellette

Staff Writer

In just a couple of days, a video project in Waterford has gone viral locally, with more than 1,200 people joining the social media group for the project with videos being produced and sent to HGTV for its Home Town Takeover competition.

The idea to enter Waterford into the competition was Tammie Begotka’s.

“I don’t even remember where I saw it,” she said. “I was feeding the baby and I think I just came across it online. I thought it looked kind of fun and Waterford met all the criteria and it’s not a hugely complicated thing, so I brought it up to my husband (Brandon) and he thought it was a good idea, too. He always supports my crazy ideas.”

The contest at HGTV is, according to the website, the “biggest renovation project ever” for the network, with the winning community getting a makeover for the entire town. According to the website, the requirements for the municipality to enter the contest are to have:

  • A population of less than 40,000;
  • Homes with great architecture longing to be revealed; and
  • A Main Street that needs a facelift.

More information about the contest can be found at hgtvhometowntakeover.com.

While HGTV will accept photos of the contest entries, the website states that videos are preferred.

Tammie Begotka said, after her husband showed interest and encouraged her to move forward with the idea, she still wasn’t convinced and talked to a few friends.

“I really thought they were going to laugh at it, but they were all over it,” she said. “We’re going through a downtown revitalization anyway and it was amazing to see how many people got involved so quickly.”

The Begotkas are Waterford residents with their three young boys and involved in Waterford’s downtown business district, planning to open a distillery this year in the former Flowers by Chrissy building on Main Street. The distillery will produce vodka onsite and also offer bourbon, which is made offsite.

Tammie said she talked to about a half-dozen local business owners who “jumped on board” right away with the project.

“It was really Kathy Kohl (KK Photography) who has pulled this all together,” Tammie said. “She put together the Facebook page and has been doing interviews. She’s really running the show, she’s such an asset to the community.”

“I’m just helping out,” Kohl said. “This was Tammie’s idea and she’s the one who brought it to all of us.”

Tammie said she’s been a bit stunned at how fast the project has taken off and the support she’s seen.

“It’s been so much fun and it’s been awesome for our community,” she said. “I can’t get over how fast this is happening. We just opened the Facebook group like three or four days ago and there’s like 1,200 people who are following it. The enthusiasm for this is really neat to see.

“People are coming out and telling their unique stories and why Waterford is great and it’s so neat to see the videos.”

Tammie didn’t have a count on the number of videos submitted to HGTV so far, but said she’s been in touch with quite a few who already have and many others who are working on their submissions.

“It’s so easy to do,” she said. “It can be a simple 30 second video or the max, which I think is 5 minutes. We’re just looking for people to submit a video about why they love Waterford and why HGTV should choose our town.”

She added that they know winning the competition is a “long shot” but the experience itself has been worth it.

“It’s drawing people together who are sharing their love of the community with each other,” she said.

For more information about the video project, search for HGTV Takes Over Waterford on Facebook.