Contest may put Walla Walla on destination map

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From the Blues to the bulbs, Walla Walla has a number of treasures for local residents. But for those who don't know much about the "land of many waters," a nationwide contest could help put the community on the proverbial map.

An organization called Destination Marketing Association International has partnered with Rand McNally and USA Today for a contest to promote Small Town USA. The "Best of the Road" contest is a consumer-oriented destination competition where the top 20 communities voted on by the people will be visited in an effort to narrow down some winners.

The first step to getting Walla Walla on the map has already taken place: The community was nominated. The next step is getting people to go online and vote for the community or favorite points of interest. That can be done by visiting www.bestoftheroad.com .

Small-town destinations are defined as having populations of 150,000 people or fewer. Five categories define them: most beautiful, most patriotic, friendliest, most fun and best for food.

Nominations and votes are accepted through May 23. When the cross-country Best of the Road Rally adventure begins, teams of amateur travelers will leave New York en route to Los Angeles in a three-week trek to canvass cities, towns and villages that make the cut of 20 finalists.

Winners will be announced July 21 at Destination Marketing Association International's 97th annual convention in New Orleans.

An item in Thursday's Strictly Business column was a little ahead of its time.

A notice about an upcoming fundraiser hosted by Hot Mama's Espresso for the Washington State Council of Firefighters Burn Foundation gave an incorrect date. The event will not take place this Saturday. It will instead be held May 21 at Hot Mama's, 1447 W. Pine St.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day the coffee shop will feature drinks, live music, food, fire trucks and an appearance from the Walla Walla Sweets Roller Derby team. For every drink sold, $1 will be donated to the burn foundation. For more details, call 386-2010.

The owners of Henry's Ace Hardware will host an open house celebration Saturday at the store's new address in Milton-Freewater.

After completing the move at the end of last year to 175 S. Main St., the site of the former Dollar Store, and building out the inventory -- including the addition of lumber just a couple of weeks ago SEmD Ace store owners Doug and Linda Henry are celebrating the changeover.

A ribbon-cutting event will commemorate the event, dubbed an all-day family affair. Free doughnuts will be served 8-10 a.m. with the ribbon-cutting at 10.

Entertainment will be provided by the Balloon Man from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and the Central Middle School band, 1-2 p.m.

Hot dogs will be sold as a fundraiser for the McLoughlin High School Key Club, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Guests will also receive 20 percent discounts on everything but lumber.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.

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