City to say 'howdy' to Texans seeking nation's friendliest small town

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Walla Walla will soon host some special visitors searching for the Friendliest Small Town in America.

A pair of Texans pulled out of New York City Wednesday for a three-week road trip to six towns considered by residents and visitors to be among the friendliest in the country.

By the end of the trip, Jason and Nikki Wynn will help crown the winner.

The "Best of the Road" contest is a nationwide push by Rand McNally and USA Today to find points of interest and special destinations off the beaten path in communities with fewer than 150,000 residents.

Walla Walla is one of six towns that will be visited by the Wynns. The community garnered the most votes -- 266 -- in the "Friendliest Small Town" category in the online poll that determined the finalists.

The Dallas couple will visit five other communities as well.

They will plot their own course, so it's hard to say when exactly they'll arrive, according to an announcement from Tourism Walla Walla.

Five other teams have also hit the road in their search to find winners in other categories: Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic and Best for Food.

Winners will be featured on USA Today's Travel page and in Rand McNally's 2013 Road Atlas.

Tourism officials are planning a friendly visit for the Wynns. According to a post on their blog about the road rally, Jason Wynn is a photographer, and Nikki Wynn is a makeup artist.

They wrote that they love their urban lifestyle but longed for an adventure. The trip will allow them to explore America via RV.

Those interested can keep track of their experience at www.bestoftheroad.com/team.do?$=61 . While there, community members are encouraged to post ideas for activities on their visit via the Wynns Facebook page accessible through the aforementioned link.

For more than 150 years, Rand McNally has highlighted what's "best" on the highways and byways of America. About a decade ago, it started focusing on special destinations and points of interest off the beaten path. These places have been featured as part of "Best of the Road" in travel guides and in the Rand McNally Road Atlas.

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The owners of a new full-service bar in the works on Main Street are building anticipation for their opening by selling T-shirts in front of the building.

If you missed the sidewalk setup Thursday, sales of T-shirts for Public House 124 will take place today through 6 p.m. at -- where else? -- 124 E. Main St.

That's the former site of Pete's Ski Sport Shop. Behind the brown paper in the windows, a transformation of the space is under way. Details have been shared on a Facebook page for Public House 124.

Jim Sanders and Matthew Price-Huntington are behind the new venture, which is described as a full-service bar that will also offer a variety of small plates and entrees. Progress on the construction is posted regularly.

What we know so far: The televisions have been mounted, the patio furniture's in, a fireplace has been framed in and the drywallers have been busy. If you want to pick up a T-shirt, they're selling for $20.

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Burlesque will be back in Walla Walla tonight with a show at Charles Smith Wines.

The Big John Bates Grindshow -- presented by K Vintners amp; Charles Smith Wines -- promises a raucous evening of rockabilly, burlesque, dancing and wine. DJ Howie Phyro from Intoxica Radio Los Angeles will also be there.

The event runs 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Doors open at 9 p.m. The cost is $25 in advance; $30 at the door, 35 S. Spokane St. Tickets are limited but still available at www.charlessmithwines.com . Attendees must be 21 and over. Identification is required at the door.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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