By Jessica Isaacs
By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’ve been sharing (like crazy) a link to Outside Magazine’s Best Towns 2015 competition. The grand prize includes bragging rights, of course, but also something that’s more important to us — a feature story in Outside’s September issue.
Now among the top eight in the fourth round, we’re taking on Chattanooga, Tennessee. We’ve joined many other small businesses on Twitter and Facebook in reminding you that we still need your help to make this happen.
The Boone-Chattanooga matchup has brought in a combined total of more than 57,400 votes — and this round doesn’t end until Saturday night. Chattanooga has kept a steady lead, but we’re holding our own and pulling in impressive numbers for a town our size.
In just four days, Boone — a town with 18,211 residents — has earned more than 27,800 votes. Chattanooga (population 173,336) has stayed about 1,500 votes ahead of us today.
Chattanooga is a beautiful place with a lot to offer. A few weeks ago, an Outside editor even told me it’s an ideal outdoor community. It won this very competition in 2011, so there’s no doubt it’s an awesome city.
But as fourth round voting draws to a close (ending at 11:59 p.m. tomorrow), I want everyone to remember why we’re doing this.
This recent headline from the Chattanooga Times Free Press — “Secret alliances and Twitter campaigns won’t make Boone a better outdoor city than Chattanooga” — got me thinking.
Its author had some pretty harsh things to say.
- “Chattanooga won this competition in 2011, and to think that Boone would deserve to beat us is staggeringly simplistic.”
- “Chattanooga certainly does not need the stamp of approval from a magazine to affirm our belief of how great an outdoor city this is.”
- “So rally your troops, Boone, and make sure all of you get out the vote with your 19,000 citizens and your secret alliances with other cities. (Seriously, secret pacts with other burgs? Did you guys pinky swear and everything?)”
- “It’s cool, everyone understands. You want to be us.”
- “You want the title. Chattanooga’s happy simply being the best, whether the online voting concurs or not.”
Obviously, this guy has no idea why this competition is important to us. There’s no reason for us take his comments seriously, but I saw this as a great opportunity to remind the online world why we do what we do in Boone.
Yes, we’re working with our friends and neighbors to push a social media campaign. We believe in our community and we’re coming together to stand up for it — that’s what friends are for, right?
Yes, we would love for you to vote and spread the word if you believe in us, too.
Yes, we even voted for Port Angeles, Washington in their bracket — they’re taking on a city that’s three times their size, so we can relate!
Yes, this competition is important to us. Boone is a great place to visit, but the “kind folks” who live here, the small businesses they run and our entire local economy depend on travel and tourism.
We don’t generate $1 billion from tourism every year (we’re a small town, remember?) so the national attention that could come from a feature in Outside is an amazing opportunity for us. Chattanooga might not have to work for online votes, but we’re more than happy to put in the extra time on social media if it means our local entrepreneurs can build and grow their businesses.
Yes, we have less than 19,000 citizens. Truth be told, we’re proud of the tight-knit community we have here and we think it’s something special.
There are a lot of reasons to love Boone and North Carolina, and some of us have decided that we just don’t want to leave.
No, we don’t want to be you. Like I said, Chattanooga’s great, but we prefer that small town charm that makes us feel at home.
Yes, we want to win. The big city of Chattanooga might be above the online voting competition. They might think it’s silly. But here in the High Country, anything that’s good for our neighbors is worthy of our time.
If you’re reading this, you’re either voting for Boone or you’re voting for someone else in the competition. But no matter where you are, I want you to know this:
Every citizen in Boone is proud of North Carolina and proud of this community. We love our town and we’re glad to be called “locals.” We don’t want to be famous and we don’t want bragging rights. We want what’s best for our friends, and we’re not afraid to say it.
Chattanooga might not care whether they win this thing or not, but we care.
They might not need your votes, but we do!