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Village may rank ‘most fun’

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The history of Yellow Springs is that of a town that is constantly being rediscovered. The spring itself was discovered by the Shawnee, before the area was discovered as a trading post, then discovered as a healing spa, and a good community in which to launch progressive ideas on education and later innovative businesses. More recently, in 2008 the village was again discovered as one of 10 “Coolest Small Towns” in America by Budget Travel, and in 2009 it was rediscovered as one of five of the state’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine.

So it may come as no surprise that recently Yellow Springs was yet again discovered as one of the top 30 best small towns in America by a contest called Best of the Road, sponsored by Rand McNally and USA Today. The contest isn’t over, and over the next month the village has a chance to be rediscovered as one of the five Best Small Towns in America.

In a model powered by popular opinion, Best of the Road relies on online comments posted by visitors who describe their experiences and impressions of the 600 towns that have been nominated in the search for towns that are “lesser-known or off the beaten path” and have “special character and capture the region’s essence,” according to the Best of the Road Web site and Rand McNally spokesperson Lauren Lane. In April Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce Director Karen Wintrow nominated the village as the best small town through the chamber’s Facebook page. The post received enough votes and positive comments online from residents and area visitors that the village was chosen as one of 30 top small towns in the country, Wintrow said this week. The village was nominated along with five other towns in the “most fun” category, one of five categories also including “most beautiful,” “most patriotic,” “friendliest,” and “best for food.”

Between June 23 and July 15, a “road rally” team of two people chosen by judges at Rand McNally will spend a few days in each of the top six “most fun” towns, including Yellow Springs, Vacaville, Calif., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Santa Claus, Ind., Glenwood Springs, Colo., and Sioux City, Iowa. They will come to experience the village and report back on their experience to the judges, who will consider both public opinion and road rally evaluations to choose the Best Small Towns in America in each of the five categories. The winners will be announced in late July, Lane said.

Based on the 55 comments visitors have made on the post for Yellow Springs so far, this little village is a popular place to visit.

“I’d vote for Yellow Springs in every category if I could. I make the hour drive there at least every other week in the summer… We have fresh ice cream at the dairy, hike in Glen Helen, have a picnic at John Bryan park and window shop in town. There’s always at least one street musician out to listen to, and the shops in town are unique. You won’t find a big box chain store here, but you WILL find a used bookstore with a fat old shop cat that just loves to be petted, an art supply store where the person behind the counter actually knows a thing or two about the products she sells, a shop where you can buy fair trade items from around the world, and so much more! Yellow Springs is definitely the most fun town in America!”

“A cultural and spiritual oasis tucked between the corn fields of Ohio.”

“Yellow Springs is a Bohemian getaway in the middle of white bread Ohio…and is a magical place to visit.”

Others wrote about the village as an ideal place to live and raise a family.

“First you’ll visit once. You’ll be so intrigued by the beautiful art, quirky shops, music on every corner that you’ll come back. Again and again. You’ll be so drawn to the friendly, open Yellow Springers that you’ll say you simply have to move there, raise your family there. And you will never regret it!”

“Best place on the planet! Best people and the best place to raise a family!”

But Yellow Springs is competing against towns that are much bigger and claim attractions such as, well, an ocean front beach, mountains, and major rivers. Santa Claus with 2,500 is of similar size to Yellow Springs, but Glenwood Springs has about 8,500, and Sioux City has 82,700, while Vacaville is 97,000 strong. Myrtle Beach has 32,000 but its metro area includes about 325,000 people, and it’s a well-known vacation spot for northerners seeking fun in the sun. Still, according to Lane, Yellow Springs is already considered a top town and will get billed as such in the 2013 Rand McNally atlas and on the travel company’s Web site.

“This is something you should be proud of,” she said.

The road rally team will contact the Chamber of Commerce about the dates they plan to be in Yellow Springs. And residents who are interested in contributing can visit Rand McNally’s Best of the Road Web site to add comments and increase the visibility of Yellow Springs at http://www.bestoftheroad.com.



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