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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Vote for the Best Towns in Wisconsin

You picked the finalists

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In January, the Traveling Shepherd invited readers to submit nominations for their favorite towns. Our definition of a “town” stated that the community had to be listed on the Official Wisconsin Highway Map published and distributed free by the Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions (AWTA) and should have a population of fewer than 15,000 people.

In about a month’s time we received more than 600 nominations. Favorite towns spanned the state from Cornucopia in the north to Cassville in the south, from St. Croix Falls in the west to Port Washington in the east. Many nominators added descriptive comments ranging from almost factual (“Fish Creek is surrounded by water”) to borderline poetic (“Bayfield—the islands, the lake, the hills, the trees!”).

One person, reviewing the “Best Town for a Romantic Getaway,” suggested another category: “How about ‘Most Discreet’? Like when you want to go somewhere with someone else’s lover or spouse? I know from experience this represents a sizable amount of Wisconsin’s tourist demographics.”

To sift and winnow the nominees into top contenders, your Traveling Shepherd editor convened a panel of prominent state travel writers that included Wisconsin’s first lady, Jessica Doyle, author Martin Hintz, travel writer Dennis McCann, frequent contributor Mary Bergin, travel columnist Betty Stark, radio show host Rick Murphy and Web master Mike Peroutka. After much discussion and consideration, the 21 categories were cut back to 20 with five “finalists” per category.

Voting will run from March 1 to April 24 at the Web site www.WondersOfWisconsin.com. One vote is allowed per e-mail address. Winners will be announced in the Shepherd Express in early May.

The Best Wisconsin Towns: Finalists

Most Scenic Beauty
Alma
Bayfield
Green Lake
Ontario
St. Croix Falls

Most Beautiful Town
Cedarburg
Ephraim
Mineral Point
Rural
Stockholm

Most Distinctive Architecture
Cedarburg
Ephraim
Mineral Point
New Glarus
Spring Green

Best Galleries and Arts Scene

Amory
Egg Harbor
Mineral Point
Paoli
Plymouth

Best Theater and Entertainment Town
Bristol (Renaissance Faire)
Fish Creek (Peninsula Players)
Fort Atkinson (The Fireside Dinner Theatre)
Spring Green (American Players Theatre)
Washburn (Big Top Chautauqua)

Best Festival Weekend
Iola (Old Car Show)
Monroe (Cheese Days)
Port Washington (World’s Largest Fish Fry)
Stoughton (Syttende Mai)
Warrens (Cranberry Festival)

Best Town for Dining
Bayfield
Green Lake
Lake Geneva
New Glarus
Sister Bay Best

Town for a Fishing Getaway
Eagle River
Hayward
Port Washington
Minocqua
Waupaca

Best Town for a Biking Getaway
Boulder Junction
Brodhead
Plymouth
Sparta
Two Rivers

Best Snowmobiling Getaway
Crivitz
Eagle River
Hayward
Hurley
Minocqua

Best Town for a Boating Getaway
Baileys Harbor
Eagle River
Lake Geneva
Pepin
St. Croix Falls

Best Cross-Country Skiing Town
Blue Mounds
Cable Fish Creek
Minocqua
Plymouth

Best Town for Folk/Outsider Art
Baraboo (Dr. Evermore’s Sculpture Park)
Dickeyville (Dickeyville Grotto)
Hollandale (Grandview)
Phillips (Wisconsin Concrete Park)
Rudolph (Rudolph Grotto)

Best Ethnic Getaway Town
Belgium
Cashton
Lac du Flambeau
New Glarus
Stoughton

Best Shopping
Cedarburg
Kohler
Mount Horeb
Princeton
Sturgeon Bay

Best Historic Town
Baraboo
Mineral Point
Peshtigo
Prairie du Chien
Ripon

Best Town on a Lake
Algoma
Ashland
Elkhart Lake
LaPointe
Port Washington

Best Town on a River
Cassville
Keshena Gays Mills
St. Croix Falls
Trempealeau

Most Romantic Town for an Adult Getaway
Bayfield
Chetek
Fish Creek
Kohler
Lake Geneva

Best Town for a Family Weekend
Baraboo
Blue Mounds
Green Lake
Minocqua
Wisconsin Dells

Photos by Gary Knowles

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