The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 18, 2012

Friendliest town contest down to the wire

JOPLIN, Mo. — Joplin officials are seeking the help of area residents in a competition that could name Joplin as the friendliest small town in the U.S.

The city already has advanced — from 700 towns to the final six — in the 2012 Best of the Road Competition put on by Rand McNally and USA Today. A team that will compile information for judging will be in Joplin on Wednesday and Thursday, and officials with the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau on Monday urged residents to welcome the group via business and church marquees, with homemade signs, and at scheduled events.

On Wednesday, the team, called the Rogue Riders, will be at the Joplin Museum Complex at 9:15 a.m., Cunningham Park at 1:45 p.m., Carousel Park at 3834 W. Seventh St. at 3:30 p.m., and the Joplin Outlaws baseball game at 7 p.m., according to a tentative schedule. Stops on Thursday will include downtown Joplin for Third Thursday events.

Martha Getz, a spokeswoman for the tourism bureau, said information on the team’s plans will be posted on the bureau’s website. “We want people to come meet them, join in with them, and show them how friendly Joplin is,” she said.

Getz said residents can follow the team and interact with it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rogueriders, on Twitter at @rogue_riders, and on the team’s blog at http://blog.bestoftheroad.com/.

“They’ll be providing regular updates, and you can log on with them and tell them what you love about Joplin,” she said during a news conference Monday at Joplin City Hall.

The team recently was in Murray, Ky., and information about the visit there is online. Other finalists for “most friendly” are San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Cloudcroft, N.M.; and College Station and Frisco, Texas. Additional categories of the competition are “most patriotic,” “most fun,” “most beautiful” and “best food.” Six cities were selected as finalists in each of the five categories, among U.S. cities with populations of 150,000 or less.

Getz said Joplin has received a lot of media coverage as a result of the May 2011 tornado that included observations from visitors about the community’s friendliness.

“We’re a great city before the tornado; we’re even better now,” she said.

Winners will be featured in USA Today, in the Rand McNally road atlas and in social media, Getz said.

“There will even be a GPS navigational tool, so there will be lots of bragging rights,” she said.

Keeping up

ANNOUNCEMENTS on where the team will be and how residents can meet the members will be posted on the Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.visitjoplinmo.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JoplinCVB; and on Twitter at @VisitJoplnMo.

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