SKOKIE, Ill., Sept. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Small town fans have nominated their favorites and the votes have been tallied! Today Rand McNally revealed the Best of the Road® Finalists in the hotly contested search for the 2013 Best Small Towns* in America. After two months of online voting at bestoftheroad.com, five towns were chosen as finalists in six categories - Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Best for Food, and Best for Geocaching – for a total of 30 finalist towns. The all-virtual 2013 contest has been more competitive than ever, breaking records across all metrics, including number of towns nominated, number of unique visitors, and number of votes placed.
"The Best of the Road program has been the most successful tourism campaign to discover Small Town America, and this year's record numbers are a testament to the program's ability to inspire pride in your hometown, and engage America in experiencing a new destination," said Rebecca Oistad, VP of Digital Strategy & Business Development, Rand McNally. "Our new digital product offerings for CVBs and DMOs, in addition to our partnerships with Good Sam and Geocaching.com, will help the winning destinations showcase the best their towns have to offer."
In 2013, Rand McNally's Best of the Road® contest increased participation by 45% vs. 2012, engaging over 97,000 individuals to date, who nominated nearly 1200 towns – a 40% increase, and generated more than 63,000 votes!
The five finalists in the six categories are:Most Beautiful – Punta Gorda, Fla.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Quincy, Ill.; Arvada, Colo.; and Cloudcroft, N.M. Most Fun – Jim Thorpe, Pa.; Lombard, Ill.; Corning, N.Y.; Geneva-on-the- Lake, Ohio; and Nocona, Texas Most Patriotic – Mandan, N.D.; Gallup, N.M.; Enterprise, Ala.; Fairborn, Ohio; and Jonesborough, Tenn. Friendliest – Kewanee, Ill.; Macon, Ga.; Bradenton, Fla.; Murray, Ky.; Koekuk, Iowa Best for Food – San Mateo, Calif.; Walla Walla, Wash.; Roseville, Minn.; Galesburg, Ill.; and Charlottesville, Va. Best for Geocaching, sponsored by Geocaching.com – West Bend, Wisc.; Peachtree City, Ga.; Helena, Mont.; Manhattan, Kan.; and Merritt Island, Fla. Each Finalist is invited to submit a photo or video tour, and a written essay describing why it should be the winner of the contest in the selected category. The final judging will begin on September 27, and the selection will be based on a number of criteria including:
- the persuasiveness of the information contained in the Finalist Submission as to why the contestant town is the best Small Town in the U.S. in its Finalist Category;
- the originality and creativity of the Finalist Submission;
- the persuasiveness of the content of the online activity that addresses why the contestant town is the best Small Town in the U.S. in its Finalist Category;
- the volume of online activity about the contestant town between September 3, and September 27, 2013.