A campaign that generated grassroots support and pride in Duluth has paid off on Sunday night as the city won the designation of the country's best outdoors town.
The verdict was a hard-fought one, arriving after six rounds of online voting in Outside magazine’s annual “best outdoors town” competition. The Duluth News Tribune reported that the city on Lake Superior won in the final round in "an easy victory" over Provo, Utah, accumulating about 66,750 votes to about 54,850 for Provo. In previous rounds, Duluth bested Columbia, Missouri.; Athens, Ohio; La Crosse, Wisconsin; Minneapolis; and Asheville, North Carolina.
KDAL said that Duluth will be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine and can use the title to promote itself to potential visitors and residents. The outdoors and adventure-oriented magazine’s annual “best place to live in America” winner was chosen by online voting this year, with 64 communities starting the competition in May.
"I think it’s important to note a very real and significant change in our city that has resulted in this victory — a fundamental shift in how people think about Duluth,” Duluth Mayor Don Ness posted on his Facebook page, who called the victory "a big deal" in his post. “Over the past month, we saw people from all over the country weigh in and proclaim how much they love this city. ... The recognition of the change in our city in recent years is important and it is significant.”
Last week, the Northlands News Center reported that Ness pointed to some of the outdoor options offered in Duluth that made the city a worthy competitor, including an extension of the Lakewalk to Brighton Beach and the Munger Trail and the city's extensive amount of recreational trails. He said the competition would bring greater attention to Duluth's amenities and reflected the city's growing optimism.
"Claiming the rightful title of America's Outdoor Adventure City will help us in our ability to bring jobs and investment to our area," said Ness.
Throughout the contest, the city’s hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking and other outdoor assets were promoted by Duluth's residents as well as its civic boosters, with an active social media campaign and its “VoteDuluth” tag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
"Everybody is just getting on board and posting videos and pictures comments and sharing videos that we put up so it's a great feeling," said Gene Shaw, Director of Public Relations for Visit Duluth.