Visalia Preparing to Welcome National ‘Best of Food’ Judges | Community Spirit
From Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau:
Planning is under way for an event that will bring national attention to Visalia’s abundant selection of local restaurants, food attractions, and agri-tourism businesses.
Visalia is one of six finalists in a contest to determine the best small-town food in America. It received the second-highest number of votes in the first phase of the “Best of the Road” contest sponsored by Rand McNally and USA TODAY.
Now, a road rally is under way to promote American tourism and small-town pride. Five teams of volunteer judges are driving across America to visit finalists. (Other categories include most beautiful, most patriotic, friendliest and most fun. Each team is assigned one category.)
Visalia will welcome Jim and Bonnie Parr, residents of St. Petersburg, Fla., sometime before mid-July. The rally will conclude in the Los Angeles area on July 15.
“It’s a typical road trip, full of adventures and side trips, so we’re not quite sure of the exact date yet,” said Danika Heatherly, manager of the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But we’re getting ready. And we’ll announce our plans as soon as possible.”
Cities will be ranked on a variety of factors including community involvement, team reports, and the opinions of travel experts. The top towns will be highlighted in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as on the USA TODAY travel website. Winning towns will be announced July 22 at a travel conference in New Orleans.
“This is an amazing opportunity to promote Visalia, its wonderful food, its proximity to natural wonders, and its devotion to small-town values,” Heatherly said.
A plan to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Parr will be announced as soon as possible. The effort is being organized by the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with the Central California Chapter of the California Restaurant Association, other community organizations, farmers and local businesses.
Visalia’s effort will highlight:
- Our array of local restaurants that offer an unrivaled diversity of quality fare.
- Our links to the land in one of the nation’s most productive farming regions.
- Our desire to welcome national-park tourists, convention-goers and other visitors to enjoy Visalia on every road trip.
- Our community’s heartfelt concern to feed those residents who are less fortunate.
Overall, 20,000 votes were cast in an online competition in May.