Ames, City with Worst Music Scene and 2nd Most Hipsters, Now Rising in List of Drunkest

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Juan Pablo Bravo/Noun Project, Matt Brooks/Noun Project

The city and Chamber of Commerce rarely miss an opportunity to tout Ames’ inclusion on national best-cities lists, no matter how dubious the methodology or source of the rankings — like when the website FindtheHome named the city the country’s second-top hipster haven in 2015.

“Ames consistently garners national recognition for its favorable economy, business climate, cost of living and sense of community,” states an introduction to a list on the Chamber’s website that includes the hipster honor among many others of varying merit. “Whether you’re looking to come to Ames to attend school, start your career, start a family or retire, you’ll find the following accolades impressive.”

Here’s another accolade the Chamber can now add to that list: one of America’s drunkest cities (or, more accurately, metropolitan areas, which for Ames comprises all of Story County).

Last weekend, the website Wall Street 24/7 — the same place that last year named Ames the healthiest city in the entire country — recognized us as the eighth drunkest in America, impressively topping No. 19 Iowa City, whose university just three years ago was named the top party school in the nation by the Princeton Review.

“In Ames, 24.4% of adults report either binge or heavy drinking within the last month, a larger share than in all but seven other U.S. cities,” 24/7 Wall St. reported. In Iowa City, just 23.2 percent have recently gotten rekt.

Not only that, Ames’ drunks get shitfaced more responsibly than their counterparts in Iowa City, where a quarter of driving deaths involved alcohol and booze caused 249 premature deaths before the age of 75 per 100,000 people, compared to 214 in Ames. “While adults in Ames may be more likely than most to drink excessively, they also appear less likely to engage in risky behavior associated with drinking,” the website found. “Only 11.8% of fatalities on roads in Ames involved alcohol, far less than the 31.0% that did nationwide.”

When you’ve got one of the country’s worst, most “barren” music scenes (check out our new feature, The Ames Scene, for more on that), maybe drinking’s all you can really do to make the nightlife tolerable.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.