By Jamie Organski
They say if you love your job, you never work a day in your life, and although Inlet Tourism Director Adele Burnett rarely has a free moment, she and the town of Inlet are a match made in small-town heaven.
Burnett said she fell in love with her hometown at a young age. Her parents were raised in Inlet and her father, along with his three older brothers, owned and operated The Ole Barn Restaurant.
“Back then, there was no snowmobiling in Inlet, so the Barn closed for the winters and my parents would drive to Florida for work,” Burnett said.
Adele described her start as Inlet’s tourism director as a happy accident of sorts, as she worked for the town of Inlet as a police dispatcher in 1996. In 2000, she was asked to help in the Information Office and when Kristin Condie resigned in 2002, Adele assumed her role. Adele has served as clerk to the Inlet Planning Board, deputy town clerk, administrative assistant for Inlet’s Comprehensive Master Plan, administrative assistant for the Inlet Clear Waters Committee, corresponding secretary for the Inlet Historical Society, and Inlet Youth Commission board member.
To say Burnett’s family has ties to the community would be the understatement of the century, as she has relations through marriage to many of the community’s longstanding families. Burnett comes from a long line of hardworking folks, all of whom live(d) and breathe(d) everything Inlet. Her grandparents owned and operated Ted Payne’s Bus Service that transported Inlet School students, and her brother ran the business for 15 years after that, until he died unexpectedly on Oct. 4, 2018. She has four children, two whom attend the Town of Webb school.
As she reflects on growing up in Inlet, her favorite memories include attending the Inlet Common School with many friendships still active today, learning to swim at Arrowhead Beach, and working on the ice truck with her grandparents and relatives.
“It’s cliche, but I love the small-town atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone knows everyone and there are very few who wouldn’t be there to help if someone needed it.”
What Inlet lacks in size it makes up for in its unity of its residents. One example was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020. Utilizing an arsenal of contacts, Burnett mobilized residents and business owners to get access to testing and vaccination clinics.
According to Burnett, “The Little Town That Could” moniker comes from the community’s first Guinness World Record claim of the largest raft of canoes and kayaks, set in 2008. “That event showed how ‘big’ this community is by breaking the record with 1,104 canoes, kayaks and guidebooks, raising over $80,000 for breast cancer awareness. In 2011, [we reclaimed] the record with 1,902 boats and again in 2014 with 3,150 boats.”
All three events raised over $300,000 mostly for breast cancer research, and on Sept. 14, 2024, Inlet will host a 10-year anniversary event of that latest record.
“The camaraderie here is something I haven’t encountered anywhere else,” she said. “There is nowhere else I’d rather be.”