You may have heard Murray, Kentucky is considered the Friendliest Small Town in America. Even if you agreed, you may not know how that title was given to the town. It has been almost five years since Murray was honored to receive the title, and we wanted to share how that came to be.
Rand McNally teamed up with the USA Today and Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) to put together a list called the Best of the Road. This included the search for the Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Best Food and Friendliest. When the Murray Convention and Visitors Bureau heard of this opportunity they knew that Murray definitely fit as the Friendliest and they began the steps to make it happen.
The beginning stages of the contest required a social media campaign. The Murray CVB worked with our passionate community members on making Murray one of the top six finalists that would receive a visit from the Best of the Road team. In June of 2012, Murray, Kentucky became the first stop on the road trip for the Friendliest Small Town finalists.
The Murray CVB was required to plan three days in the town for the Best of the Road team to enjoy all while showing them how the community was the friendliest out there. Day 1 started with a potluck put on by community members on the deck of Playhouse in the Park. Watch the vlog entry from Jen and Bob on their thoughts throughout day 1.
Day 2 was spent out on Kentucky Lake. Jen and Bob were treated to the company of Councilman, Jason Pittman, and the Murray CVB team. As we all know, Western Kentucky weather is its own animal. The boat was caught in a surprise storm providing (thankfully) more laughs than nerves. Captain Pittman returned everyone back safely just in time to wash-up for a night out on the town.
Day 3 began with a birds-eye view of our beautiful town and county. They took a quick pit stop at the Murray State Racers Basketball Camp where Bob made the camp famous "Ice Cream Shot" that rocked the house! Jen and Bob were impressed and instead of leaving at the scheduled time, they took an additional fishing excursion with one of the locals they met at the potluck on the first day.
The Murray Convention and Visitors Bureau staff knew that the competition would be stiff. Being the first stop on the line-up, they truly feared the experience in Murray would be forgotten as they visited the other five finalists. In July, the Murray CVB staff attended the DMAI Annual Conference that was held that year in Seattle, Washington feeling like the chances of being the winner might be slim. As each winner was announced for the various awards, Friendliest Small Town finally came up for announcement. To everyone's excitement, Murray was named the winner! Jen and Bob felt that every town was wonderful, but the people of Murray, Kentucky were very special. Murray was the only town that invited them into their homes treating them like family...which is fitting since the Murray CVB's tagline for visitors is, "Feels Like Home".
Five years later, and the community of Murray still holds that honor to the highest standard. The city, the university, the business owners and the individuals you run into take pride in being the Friendliest Small Town.
The Murray Convention and Visitors Bureau has enjoyed re-living the memories shared with two special individuals in this process. Bill Wells and Bob Schatz are part of what made this possible for the entire Murray community. Both were taken from the world far too soon. Rest in peace to our friends.
Friendliest Small Town is not Murray's only honor! Read a full list here.