Tahlequah Daily Press


May 16, 2014

Tahlequah could be on another ‘best town’ list

TAHLEQUAH — Many local residents are familiar with Outside Magazine, one of the country’s premier publications for outdoor adventure, recreation, fitness and travel. For the past four years, Outside has presented a “Best Towns in America” contest. The goal was to find the best small town in America, based on “top-notch restaurants, vibrant farmers’ markets, friendly neighborhoods and unparalleled access to hiking and  biking trails.”

In the past, magazine editors have made the selections. This year, they’re allowing “crowdsourced voting” from a bracket of 64 selected towns, divided into regions of the country. Oklahoma is in the Southern group – and Tahlequah has been selected as one of the potential favorites!

We have stiff competition in our bracket: Charleston and Beaufort, S.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; Shepherdstown, W.Va.; Louisville, Ky.; Oxford, Miss.; Norfolk, Va.; Breaux Bridge, La.; Alpine, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Islamorada, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; Chapel Hill and Asheville, N.C.; and Birmingham, Ala.

It’s not the first time our city has been similarly honored. We’ve been included in two other lists in the past as among the best small towns, for various reasons. And we’ve also been tagged as one of the top retirement areas in the country – which could explain why we have such a high number of retirees in our county.

Most recently, the online real estate brokerage Movoto picked Tahlequah as one of the 10 most exciting places in Oklahoma, coming in at No. 2 behind Stillwater. That designation, for cities with populations of over 10,000, was determined by using U.S. Census and business listings with relevant data in other criteria: night life, live music venues, active life options, fast-food restaurants (with fewer being better), non-fast food restaurants, and percentage of residents ages 18-24.

The Outside contest is set up in similar manner to basketball brackets. Six rounds of voting are planned, with each lasting five days. Participants can vote once per round for each regional contest. Winners will advance until only two towns are left, at which point Outside Online will stage a week-long “showdown” to pick the Best Town 2014. The winner will get spotlight coverage in the September 2014 issue, and the “Sweet 16” will also be featured.

It’s true there are some folks in Cherokee County who want our area to “stay like it is,” with no growth or infrastructural improvement. However, towns that stagnate are doomed to eventually die. Even those that manage to survive do not prosper. And when towns fail to prosper, their young people move away, seeking greener pastures. What one among us would not like to see Tahlequah advance to the point that it offers enough to prompt our young people to stay put? And high-profile recognitions, from sources such as this, are great places to start.

Now’s the time to weigh in. Go online to www.outsideonline.com/besttowns2014, and cast your ballot. Then keep up with future rounds until the winner is announced June 15. Let’s use this as a chance to show folks from all over the country what we’re really about, and why moving here – or at least visiting – might be a darn good idea!

Text Only
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    June 20, 2014


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