The trees won't reveal their fiery colors for at least a couple of weeks, but a recent article in an Arizona travel magazine had Vermont's chief marketer, Megan Smith, seeing red.
"I took it a little too seriously I think at first, but I was just outraged," said Smith, Vermont's tourism commissioner.
Arizona Highways magazine committed the cardinal sin of insulting one of the Green Mountain State's signature industries, and drew harsh criticism from Governor Peter Shumlin.
"The thing about Arizona is they're a little bit confused. They think that Aunt Jemima is maple syrup," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
"It's kind of like going after Switzerland," said Robert Stieve, the editor of Arizona Highways.
The magazine touts Arizona's fall foliage as better than Vermont's.
U.S. Forest Service scientists declined to weigh in, stating a conflict of interest as they represent all states. But former UVM President John Bramley, who winters in Arizona, says he doesn't leave Vermont until the leaves fall.
"Arizona's got some good things: Grand Canyon, Sedona. I'll even-- despite all my years at UVM-- accept their basketball team is better than UVM's. But you know, their foliage, no," Bramley said.
Editors of Vermont Life magazine mocked up a fake cover in response, stating the Quechee Gorge is grander than the Grand Canyon.
"To my mind it was almost like a softball that Arizona gave us that we could just knock out of the park," said Mary Hegarty Nowlan, an editor at Vermont Life.
Mock covers are commonplace within the magazine industry, but the inside joke went viral when editors posted it to Facebook. The tongue-in-cheek spat over leaves grew into a forest of free publicity.
"We kind of set them as the gold standard," Stieve said. "What's great about Arizona is we-- our fall season starts in September on the North Rim and goes literally until the middle of December in the desert regions."
Fall foliage isn't Vermont's biggest seasonal tourism draw, but it is for the state's small businesses. State officials say free publicity and a colorful forecast give them hope for a strong fall.
The controversy began before this week's release of Arizona Highways.
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:27 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:27:22 GMT
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes. The council votedMore >>
Town meeting day didn't bode well for dozens of school budgets across the state. Now the Burlington City Council is looking to cut costs after voters rejected school spending hikes.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:45 GMT
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries. The bill passed Tuesday allows an unlimited number of qualified Vermonters to access medical marijuana -- removing theMore >>
The Vermont Senate has loosened restrictions on the state's medical marijuana dispensaries.More >>
Wednesday, March 12 2014 12:26 AM EDT2014-03-12 04:26:03 GMT
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman. 43-year-old Craig Dubuque was arrested for the alleged financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Police sayMore >>
A St. George man is behind bars accused of stealing from an elderly South Burlington woman.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 11:35 PM EDT2014-03-12 03:35:07 GMT
"You know, people say you might not need it, which is true, but this way you get a choice. I don't have to go out tomorrow," said Lorinda Henry of Milton. Henry says she hit the grocery stores TuesdayMore >>
Parts of Vermont could get up to 24 inches of snow in the coming storm. And VTrans officials are warning drivers they may not be able to keep up with the storm rolling in Wednesday.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 8:02 PM EDT2014-03-12 00:02:07 GMT
"Seems like it was just yesterday. Doesn't seem like it's been two years at all," said Glenda Reandeau of Tupper Lake. Residents of Tupper Lake still have their eyes out for Colin Gillis, a now 20-year-oldMore >>
Colin Gillis of Tupper Lake, N.Y., disappeared two years ago. And authorities are still searching for him. They say the investigation now focuses on tips from the public and from those who were the last to see Gillis.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 6:17 PM EDT2014-03-11 22:17:43 GMT
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser. Authorities say Officer Adam Lucia was one of two officers responding to an aggravated assault call Monday at TopsMore >>
A Rutland City Police officer is recovering at home after a crash involving his cruiser.More >>