By JESSICA ISAACS
Do you love living, working, playing or vacationing in Boone? If so, our treasured town needs your help!
Boone recently earned its place on a national list of celebrated communities and will compete through online voting for the top spot in Outside Magazine’s “Best Towns 2015” competition.
Voting begins May 4, and locals are turning to social media now to start spreading the word and garnering votes for the hub of the High Country.
Every year, Outside Magazine — an award-winning print and digital outdoor, travel and adventure publication — brings America’s favorite cities and towns together to compete for recognition as the “Best Town” in the country.
For the first time in the Best Towns competition history, Outside has teamed up with Toad & Co. — a sustainability-minded travel and outdoor clothing company — as an official sponsor.
Recently, Outside and Toad & Co. compiled a list of their favorite towns known nationwide for vibrant communities, friendly people, first-rate dining, craft beer, culture and character, access to wildlife and nature, a focus on sustainable living and a collective passion for outdoor adventure. The top 60 will compete in a bracket-style tournament through which online voting will determine
an ultimate winner.
After one month of voting, the community recognized as the Best Town of 2015 will be the star of a feature story in the September issue of Outside. The top 16 will be showcased in the article, too, and a list of the top 32 will be displayed at www.outsideonline.com.
Boone has secured its spot amongst the initial top 60, although Outside has yet to release the full list of slated competitors. This week, the magazine will use a social media contest to add four more wildcard entries to the pool.
Regulations explain that any town or city that earned a top 16 spot in Best Towns 2014 will not be eligible for the 2015 competition. The nearby city of Asheville, which took the No. 6 spot last year, will therefore be excluded from this year’s contest.
Voting will begin May 4 and continue through June 4 at www.outsideonline.com/vote.
As the High Country’s leading Toad & Co. retailer, The Mast General Store was approached by Outside to lead Boone’s campaign and endorse the town as the best of the nation’s best.
Representatives of the Mast Store met with local leaders at the Watauga County Public Library on Monday morning to announce that Boone will participate in this year’s competition, asking them to help get the community behind the campaign.
Mast General Store Storyteller and Copy Editor Sheri Moretz said Boone fans should get started by taking to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the word and garner support before voting begins using the hashtags #BooneNC and #BestTowns2015.
Community Relations Manager Deb Lazenby said the MGS is proud to be kicking off the Best Towns campaign in Boone.
“It’s highlighting all of the great things about an entire community, from restaurants to recreation,” Lazenby said. “The Mast Store has been named the retailer for the community because we do carry the key outdoor brands. They’ve nominated us to spearhead this for the whole entire community, which is great.
“It’s a great way to highlight all of the wonderful things that are here. It’s really just bigger than one store, one brand, one anything — it’s the whole collective and the whole community.”
Moretz said she sees the campaign as a chance for MGS to help more of the world see the beauty in Boone and the mountains of North Carolina.
“The Mast General Store is a stalwart in the community. We’ve been active in sharing things with our neighbors since 1883, so it’s our opportunity to invite the community to help tell our story together,” Moretz said. “With us telling our own story, who knows what we’ll discover about our community that we didn’t know?”
Although the bracket-style tournament will require a resilient push for votes, Moretz said she sees it as a chance to bring the community together.
“It’s an opportunity to build continued excitement. Just like when we get excited to watch the basketball tournaments,” Moretz said. “It’s the opportunity to create competition, which keeps people excited and engaged so that Boone can survive and continue to advance (in the online voting contest).”
While her sights for Boone are set on the top spot in the competition, Moretz said this campaign is all about “exposure, exposure, exposure,” and even making it to the top 32 will benefit both residents and visitors of the High Country.
“Our community, while we do have some diversification of industry, depends on tourism to exist in a lot of ways,” Moretz said. “So we want to make sure that people have new reasons, or a reminder of old reasons, to come visit with us.”
Voting begins May 4. Limited information is available at this time about the voting process and the other towns that will compete in Best Towns 2015. In the mean time, the Mast General Store and local leaders encourage supporters to help Boone get a head start on the competition using the hashtags #BooneNC and #BestTowns2015 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Anyone interested in sharing ideas for kick-starting the campaign can contact Moretz by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A microsite at www.RootsRated.com — an online guide to outdoor adventure experiences across the country — will soon be available and will feature many of the things that make Boone great. Moretz said the site will serve as a great resource for anyone who wants to harness a groundswell of votes for the High Country.
“I’ve lived here all my life and I discover new things about my community every day,” she said. “I’m hoping that it helps me discover new things and helps others to discover new things to do and to tell other people about how great Boone is — so many people want to live here, so let’s tell people about it.”