MINNEAPOLIS — Results are in. White Bear Lake was voted the 2018 'Best Minnesota Town' by a panel of Minnesota Monthly magazine judges.
Earlier this year, Minnesota Monthly sent out a call to towns, suburbs and cities across the state for entries in its second annual “Best MN Town” search. The publication’s editorial team sought the answer to, “which town most embodies the Spirit of Minnesota?” It was announced Dec. 5 that the town with the most spirit is White Bear Lake.
Dozens of towns heeded the request and submitted their cases on why they should be named best town. The selection process used wide-ranging criteria that included responses from the towns' people to questions about its traits and engagement, qualitative and quantitative research, as well as a popular vote.
Representatives from the top five finalists, Eden Prairie, Fergus Falls, Northfield, Roseville and White Bear Lake, were invited to attend a “Best Of” party at the Aria in downtown Minneapolis. During the festivities, White Bear Lake was announced the winner by Publisher Tammy Galvin and Director of Marketing, Events and Partnerships Arthur Morrissey.
“We at Minnesota Monthly are proud to recognize White Bear Lake as the Best Minnesota Town as it embodies the spirit of our state,” declared Morrissey. “With its rich history, charming downtown, abundant community gatherings and welcoming residents, we truly found a great community to live and visit.”
Here are some excerpts from White Bear Lake’s entry that helped secure the victory:
• “Whether it’s solving a challenge like receding water levels in our great lake, or the increasing need for recreational trails, or celebrating our uniqueness and highlighting our creativity, the community of White Bear Lake approaches all things with enthusiasm and commitment. The motto 'We all do better when we all do better' is more than a saying in our community; it’s a way of life.”
• “The White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf is supported through a program called Giving Gardens which provides completed garden bed kits to adopted homes. Individuals who adopt gardens commit to raising fresh produce, which is in turn donated to the WBAEFS to feed our neighbors in need. This locally developed organization has blossomed to provide thousands of pounds of fresh produce in just two years.”
• “Each year since 1967, the community of White Bear Lake has come together to celebrate through a summer festival aptly named Manitou Days since ‘Manitou’ translates from the Dakota language to mean ‘Spirit.’ We host a three-week summer extravaganza that kicks off in mid-June with the first Marketfest of the season, followed the next evening by the Grande Parade with more than 100 floats. Manitou Days culminates on the Fourth of July with an orchestrated flyover and fireworks display.”
As a result of being named 2018 Best MN Town, White Bear Lake will be showcased in a multi-page editorial feature, receive a media campaign valued at $50,000, and have a party thrown in its honor.
Area Historical Society Executive Director Sara Hanson called it a “team effort” to enter the contest. Hanson, Lisa Beecroft, who heads summer's Marketfest, and City Manager Ellen Hiniker collaborated on a packet submission for the panel of judges. Once a final list of 10 was named, the public got involved with the voting, which accounted for 25 percent of the total score.
“We had the highest number of votes,” said Bill Foussard, owner of the White Bear Country Inn, and chairman of Explore White Bear. Foussard is the one who encouraged city leaders to enter the contest.
“It was a lot of work,” Hanson said. “A lot of things weighed in but I knew we were qualified. Did we deserve to win? Absolutely. It will be great exposure.”
Compiled by Debra Neutkens from press release