The Origin Story Of Vermont's Very Own 'Onion'

Apr 2, 2018

"Locally sourced, organic Vermont satire" — the goal, of The Winooski, according to founder Adam Hall.

Hall, who also writes most of the articles on the site, says the idea for the satirical publication came while he was working on his blog, Tenor Dad (Hall is an opera singer, conductor and composer in addition to satirist.) 

"I had noticed that some of the hyper-local articles that I had written [for Tenor Dad] had done the best, had gotten the most views," Hall said Monday in an interview with Vermont Edition. "And I thought, 'People really want to read about what's close to home.'

"They want to read about what's going on in town and I wanted to be funny," Hall said. "I thought, 'How can I combine those two things, where people can read about what's going on in town and I can be funny? What if I started a Vermont satire site where I could take local issues and Vermont things that I'm seeing and talking to people about, but putting my own spin on them?'"

And so Hall started The Winooski.

Hall began the website by posting several weeks worth of his own original content.

Soon, he began to receive submissions for potential articles and decided to post the best ones on the site. Hall values the different perspectives and ideologies the submissions bring to the site.

"People just started sending things in, and I thought, 'Well hey, that's great — that's one less idea that I need to have!'" Hall joked. "And the fun thing about it is all these different perspectives, these ideas that I wouldn't have — that I couldn't have — are coming to me." 

The close connection between The Onion, a popular satirical news site, and The Winooski is not lost on Hall. In fact, "winooski" being the Abenaki word for "onion" worked out perfectly.

Hall explains, "I thought...if somebody ever did a Vermont satire site it would have to be called "the Winooski" because of The Onion connection. Because we've got the Onion River Co-Op and we've got 'onion' this and 'winooski' that. I thought, 'wow, such a ubiquitous word around here in Vermont... how could we not use that as the title of a satire site?'" 

Ultimately, Hall says his goal for the site is to make people laugh and get them to think about important issues from multiple perspectives.

"At the end of the day, I really just want to make people smile and laugh," said Hall. "But if I had to pick a second thing, I really want people to think — and just think about things in a different way... I think that's [what] the role of satire for me is."