It won’t be announced until this afternoon if Danville has been named America’s most beautiful small town, but the husband and wife team who visited the city a month ago have won Rand McNally/USA Today’s Best of the Road competition for the work they did chronicling their trip.
Dusty and Nikki Green of Austin, Texas, won the $10,000 grand prize after making a presentation about their trip to judges over the weekend in Seattle, Wash.
The Best of the Road competition included six towns entered in each of five categories — most beautiful, most patriotic, most fun, friendliest and best for food — with teams of two visiting each of the six towns in their category.
The teams were asked to document their trip using video, online blog entries and various social media platforms, such as Twitter, along the way.
The Greens visited Jim Thorpe, Pa., before coming to Danville and went on to Bardstown, before heading to Tybee Island, Ga., Sedona, Ariz., and Baker City, Ore., over a four-week period.
While they were in Danville, they were given tours of local landmarks emphasizing Danville’s reputation as the City of Firsts and were treated to local food and entertainment during the evenings.
During their 48-hour dose of Danville, the Greens, who both hail from small Texas towns, said they were happy they were chosen to judge the “most beautiful” category because they understood how important the wider attention could be. The couple also emphasized that natural and architectural beauty would not outweigh the spirit and the people of the town.
“We wanted to do a good service to all of the towns involved because we are small-town kids and we know the value of this national exposure,” the Greens said during the judging in Seattle, according to the Best of the Road website. “We wanted each town to get a fair shake and have the material to promote themselves long after the program was over.”
Jennifer Kirchner, executive director of Danville-Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it is hard to know what to expect from the judging, but the materials about the community that have already been disseminated on the Internet are invaluable. She said she put most of her hopes into the Greens winning.
“I know our video (on the Best of the Road website) is head and shoulders above the rest, but I think it will come down to what the judges are looking for,” Kirchner said. “Dusty and Nikki talked about the beauty of a place coming from the people, and if the judges follow that, I think we would win easily.”
Kirchner said winning the prize was not the ultimate objective before or during the Greens’ visit. Instead, the focus has been on maximizing the amount of notoriety the town already has received and will continue to receive through the videos and other online impressions.
The CVB office has already received calls from people interested in visiting from California, Minnessota and Illinois, Kirchner said.
The Greens had committed themselves to traveling the country and the world well before being selected for the competition.
Up until a few years ago, the Greens had lived in Amarillo, Texas, where Dusty was manager of a television station and Nikki worked in an orthodontist’s office.
Tired of dealing with the daily grind and mounting debt, they sold virtually all of their belongings, including their home and most of its contents, before venturing through Central and South America. They have started a business producing promotional video and material for orthodontic practices, but spend much of their time exploring.
Danville and the other towns the Greens visited will find out whether they will also be big winners when results of the judging are announced at 3 p.m. today.
The judges will make the ultimate decision based on the information gathered by the Greens during their trip.
The winner will be featured in the 2014 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as the company’s GPS¿devices, electronic books and online maps and directions.
SO YOU KNOW
A special on the Best of the Road competition will air at 8 p.m. July 25 on the Travel Channel. To learn more about the competition and view videos and written pieces the Greens produced about Danville and the other towns up for “Most Beautiful,” visit www.bestoftheroad.com.