Rand McNally has highlighted the Capital City's place on the map, confirming what many of us already knew: Jefferson City is the most beautiful small town in America.
The city won the "most beautiful" small-town category in Rand McNally's 2013 Best of the Road competition, which featured six categories.
Jefferson City had a come-from-behind win. By the time the voting had ended, Punta Gorda, Fla., had close to twice as many votes (more than 6,000) as Jefferson City (3,600).
Ryan Burns, who promotes Jefferson City as the Convention and Visitors Bureau's communications manager, was on edge: "Considering Punta Gorda had double the number of votes originally, we were a little worried about that," she conceded.
But Jefferson City stepped it up on the social media segment of the contest, which allowed people to submit photos, videos and essays after the voting ended.
"I think it's incredible to say Jefferson City is America's most beautiful small town," Burns said, "and you can see that in not only the attractions and natural landscape, but you can see that in the people who live here."
The judges wrote: "Jefferson City's essay used colorful language to bring out the beauty and charm of the town, from its proud historical connections to its lovely Capitol and other elegant buildings."
Other winning cities were Corning, NY, most fun; Kewanee, Ill., friendliest; Gallup, NM, most patriotic; San Mateo, Calif., best for food; and Helena, Mont., best for geocaching.
As a winning town, Jefferson City will receive a $15,000 prize package, including a feature story in the 2015 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as a free custom iPhone app and online travel guide promoting the town as a top destination. Jefferson City also will receive special coverage on BestoftheRoad.com and Maps.RandMcNally.com and inclusion as a point of interest in the Rand McNally RV GPS and Good Sam Trip Planner.
Posted reviews through the contest website included these comments:
• "A warm, friendly beauty of a town perched on the bluff above the Missouri River. What's not to love?"
• "Jefferson City, Missouri, is the most beautiful city in the country. Our city is rich in history, outdoor recreation, rolling hills, rivers, streams and the capital. The capital city has beautiful architecture, a historic train station and a state prison. Parks and lakes are well manicured, clean and well maintained. It is picture perfect!"
Jefferson City's winning essay, in part, read: "Two hundred years ago the founders were impressed by this river city's potential. Come today and you'll be impressed by its growth and historical charm. Come five years from now, and who knows what incredible things you'll see. We guarantee this - Jefferson City's captivating beauty and charm will capture a permanent place in your heart!"
The win will give a boost to the CVB's marketing efforts, Burns said, adding that they already plan to use it in their advertising.
"Until now, we put efforts into the history of Jefferson City, with the motto: "You'll feel the history.' But to have this angle of really being able to promote the Missouri River and the natural resources around us, the "most beautiful city' is an entirely different angle,'" she said.
To see Jefferson City's essay and video for the contest, visit www.bestoftheroad.com/town/2/3747/jefferson%20city-mo.