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Boone tops Savannah in magazine competition

Trail master Kristian Jackson rides a skills area in the "Middle Earth" section of the Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park in Boone. The 185-acre park features miles of mountain bike paths, skill areas, a pump track and a playground.
Trail master Kristian Jackson rides a skills area in the "Middle Earth" section of the Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park in Boone. The 185-acre park features miles of mountain bike paths, skill areas, a pump track and a playground. tlong@newsobserver.com

Outside magazine is gunning for online clicks by combining two surefire interest builders: an urban beauty contest and brackets.

It’s their Best Towns competition; the top 16 will be featured in Outside’s September issue. It began in early May with 64 destinations; will be down to eight this week; voting for the final four May 24-28 and the winner May 29-June 4.

A release from Outside’s publicist says “Outside readers have cast more than 306,000 votes” in the second round, held May 9-13.

The thing is, anyone can vote online once for each round.

What’s in it for Outside? Increased visibility via “shares” on social media and a variety of email addresses for its e-newsletter and more.

What’s in it for nominated cities? Positive visibility – which is why convention/visitor bureaus try to get the word out for locals and other fans to vote for the hometown favorite.

Depending on what town can better get out the vote makes for some upsets. In the Southeast competition, who woould’ve guessed that Tampa, Fla., would fall to Athens, Ga., in the first round?

Or that in the current round – with voting ending at 11:59 p.m. today – Boone is up against Athens, Ga., having topped Savannah, Ga., the round before?

The voting page says, “We looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene – all while excluding the winners and runners-up from the past three years to make room for hidden gems, underdogs, and towns on the rise.”

This is the fifth year Outside has staged this.

If there’s any valuable take-away, it’s looking at this year’s 64 entrants: Most of them – large or small, in all the regions – are well worth checking out as a tourist.

Here’s the full list of 2015 towns, with the top 16 in bold-face:

South

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Roanoke, Va.

Raleigh-Durham

Bentonville, Ark.

Beaufort, S.C.

Birmingham, Ala.

Charlottesville, Va.

Fayetteville, W.Va.

Savannah, Ga.

Houston

Boone

Ocala, Fla.

Alpine, Texas

Oxford, Miss.

Athens, Ga.

Tampa, Fla.

North

Middlebury, Vt.

New York City

Providence, R.I.

East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Lake Placid, N.Y.

Lebanon, N.H.

Brattleboro, Vt.

Elmira, N.Y.

Red Bank, N.J.

Annapolis, Md.

Cold Spring, N.Y.

Portsmouth, N.H.

New Haven, Conn.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Pittsburgh

Midwest

Ely, Minn.

Saugatuck, Mich.

Indianapolis

Spearfish, S.D.

Berea, Ky.

Columbus, Ohio

Kansas City, Mo.

Iowa City, Iowa

Bellaire, Mich.

Rochester, Minn.

Yellow Springs, Ohio

Detroit

Evanston, Ill

Eau Claire, Wis.

Milwaukee

Rapid City, S.D.

West

Santa Barbara, Calif.

Port Angeles, Wash.

Ashland, Ore.

Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Whitefish, Mont.

Fort Bragg, Calif.

Victor, Ida.

Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Ogden, Utah

Santa Fe, N.M.

Las Vegas

Hilo, Iawaii

Juneau, Alaska

Flagstaff, Ariz.

Sheridan, Wyo.

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