The team that is searching for the country’s most fun town will stop in Denton next week, and local leaders want to make sure they welcome them.
Fresh Traveler, one of the five Best of the Road Teams, will arrive Wednesday — Independence Day — for a two-day evaluation of Denton.
Denton is competing against five other finalists: Corning, N.Y., Geneva on the Lake, Ohio, Santa Claus, Ind., Delray Beach, Fla., and Buena Park, Calif.
This is the second year Rand McNally and USA Today have teamed up to sponsor a cross-country road trip competition to select the 2012 best small towns in America.
The competition began in the spring with a 30-day online vote for residents to nominate their cities for one of the five categories: most fun, most friendly, most patriotic, most beautiful and best food.
Out of the 700 competing cities, Denton had the most votes out of any other city, and placed in the top six in three of the five categories.
At this point in the competition, Denton is preparing to impress the Fresh Traveler team, the team selected to judge all six most fun finalist cities, when they arrive.
Patricia Serrano, a writer from Bangkok, and Anna Haas, a musician from Nashville, Tenn., make up the Fresh Traveler team.
They are expected to take part in the Yankee Doodle Parade. Haas will perform “America the Beautiful” at the Kiwanis Firework Show on Wednesday.
Haas also will perform as the opening act for Lisa Markley and her band of Ne’er-Do-Wells at Thursday’s Twilight Tunes concert.
Ken Willis of Beth Marie’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream has created an ice cream flavor especially for Fresh Traveler. He has combined the girls’ favorite flavors to craft the ice cream CurryCoconutJalapeño. The ice cream will be promoted as Beth Marie’s flavor of the week next week.
“This contest is very, very exciting,” and it would be wonderful to show that “crowds of people in Denton are engaged in this contest,” said Kim Phillips, vice president of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Denton residents can participate by competing themselves. A welcome sign competition will be held Wednesday and Thursday, and winners will receive Best of the Road T-shirts.
Fresh Traveler, along with the four other teams, began their cross-country road trip June 23 in Washington, D.C., and must complete their adventures July 13 in Seattle.
As they travel across the U.S., Fresh Traveler will visit each city named a finalist in order to determine which American small town is, in fact, the most fun.
In addition to traveling to six small towns, they are tasked with writing blog entries, uploading videos and photos, and tweeting.
The team whose interactive and social media is deemed “most fun” will also win $10,000. Team Fresh Traveler can be followed on Twitter: @freshtraveler and at www.freshtraveler.com.
In addition to being named America’s most fun small town, the winning city will also receive media coverage on three Travel Channel shows, along with national coverage throughout the year, leading up to Best of the Road 2013 next spring.
“Whether we win or not, we’ve already gained a lot by being in the contest,” Phillips said. “The dollar value [of the media exposure] is well over $750,000, which we could never afford in our own.”
Denton is not the only city in Texas up for an award. Frisco and College Station are both finalists in the friendliest small town category and Gainesville is a finalist in the most patriotic small town category.
The five winners will be announced at the annual Destination Marketing Association International Conference on July 17 in Seattle.
DENTON’S FUN WELCOME SIGN CONTEST 2012
The Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking for original, unique, creative signs to welcome Team Fresh Traveler in the Rand McNally and USA Today second annual Best of the Road Rally. The team is in search for the most fun town in America and Denton is one of six finalists. All signs must be submitted by noon Friday. Winners will be announced Friday at 3 p.m. on www.facebook.com/DiscoverDentonTX.
Following are the contest rules:
* Sign must include the word “welcome,” the team name “Fresh Traveler,” and the color orange
* Entries must include a photograph of the sign at one of these events:
Liberty Fun Run — 7:30 a.m., North Lakes Recreation Center
Yankee Doodle Parade — 9 a.m., Denton downtown Square
Kiwanis Fireworks Show — 6:30 p.m., Fouts Field
Twilight Tunes — 6:30 p.m. Denton County Courthouse on the Square lawn
* Entries must be posted to www.facebook.com/DiscoverDentonTX, where they will be voted on.