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Vacaville rolls out carpet for most fun town contest judges

Juliana Broste, a judge with the Best of the Road contest, talks to Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy while visiting sites in the city Monday. Vacaville is one of the finalists in the contest, which is put on by Rand McNally and USA Today. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

Juliana Broste, a judge with the Best of the Road contest, talks to Vacaville Mayor Steve Hardy while visiting sites in the city Monday. Vacaville is one of the finalists in the contest, which is put on by Rand McNally and USA Today. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
July 11, 2011 |

VACAVILLE — If Vacaville is not considered the most fun town in America, it was not for lack of trying Monday.

Judges from Rand McNally’s Best of the Road contest were feted with trips to the Nut Tree, the town’s two museums and the Factory Stores. They were given a plane ride and a noontime Town Square live concert.

Vacaville is one of six finalists in the national competition put on by map-maker Rand McNally and USA Today that will be decided later this month. Any town with less than 150,000 population was eligible to enter.

The two judges, Joan Broste and her daughter Juliana Broste, made Vacaville the last stop on their judging tour that also took them to Glenwood Springs, Co., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Santa Claus, Ind., Park City, Utah, and Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Mayor Steve Hardy felt Vacaville was the best choice, saying “there are a lot of things to do around here and we have the most fun downtown.”

“I am glad that we are a candidate,” Hardy said.

This is the first year for this competition, which also has categories for the most beautiful, most patriotic, the friendliest and best food.

Juliana Broste lightly tagged herself and her mother as “the fun experts” who have been on the road since June 23 visiting each finalist.

“We are looking at how much interesting things there are to do and how much people like living their lives in these small towns,” Juliana Broste said.

“We are looking for fun in the broadest definition,” said Joan Broste, adding that could range from enjoying a free afternoon concert to shopping at upscale stores.

Everything they collect from the finalists, from videotapes and interviews to photos and first-hand observation, will be presented Friday to a panel of judges. The winner will be announced at the Destination Marketing Association International convention in 10 days.

If Vacaville wins, it will be featured on Rand-McNally’s website and in the company’s 2012 national atlas.

Highlighting what small towns offer is important, according to Juliana Broste, “because they are often overshadowed by the larger cities.”

At each town they visited, they were asked how each town compares.

“Everyone asks that,” Joan Broste said. “We have not come up with an answer.”

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
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