Walla Walla nominated as best small town for food

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It could be a second helping of Walla Walla’s culinary scene for judges in Rand McNally’s Best of the Road competition.

Once again Walla Walla has been nominated among the nation’s best small towns in the annual contest that puts winners on the map. Literally.

Winning communities in six categories will be featured in the 2015 Rand McNally Road Atlas. They’ll also get a free custom iPhone app and online travel guide promoting the town.

Since voting began July 1, Walla Walla has received 36 votes in three categories. Crowned “Friendliest” during the contest’s inaugural year in 2012, it was a finalist last year for “Best Small Town for Food.” Tourism Walla Walla officials are hoping for a repeat in that category and encourage residents and visitors to vote for the community at bestoftheroad.com to help propel it to the finals.

Five communities in each category will be named finalists. Unlike in the past when travel teams were sent to explore the communities in respective categories and choose winners, this year’s contest will be all-digital. That means judges will rely on video, photos and social media interaction to determine winners.

Tourism Walla Walla Executive Director Ron Peck said the agency hopes to rally support and encourages residents and visitors to vote “early and often.”

“The Valley’s culinary scene abounds with outstanding chefs creating unique, inspired and locally sourced dishes that reinforce the diverse and rich agricultural scene in the Walla Walla Valley,” Peck said in an announcement.

Home to the official state vegetable, Walla Walla has a culinary scene rooted in agricultural history. Local crops and ranches are the foundation for fresh food served in restaurants across the community. The Valley also has a James Beard Foundation Best Chef semi-finalist; the Wine Country Culinary Institute; and was named one of America’s Best Small Towns for Food by The Daily Meal in 2012.

Those who want to cast their vote can do so until Sept. 3. New votes can be added every 24 hours. Walla Walla is the only Pacific Northwest community in the running for the food town title.

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