A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees for Best Small Town Cultural Scene by USA Today. The top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Seth Kines, Executive Director of Visit Lake City SC, shares more about the contest and how Lake City was named number 1 in the 10Best selection.
Were you aware that Lake City was being researched as a 10Best?
“Initially, we were not aware of this. USA TODAY 10 Best has a panel of experts that focuses on different regions of the country. Their South Carolina representative recommended Lake City as a nominee for Best Small Town Cultural Scene because of the progress that’s been made with regards to recent revitalization efforts.”
How did your team react when you were notified about being chosen as a finalist?
“We were overjoyed! It was such an honor to be nominated as one of the top 20 small towns recognized for their cultural scene. The nomination was exciting, but we quickly changed our focus from celebrating the nomination to spreading the word to encourage voting. The voting process lasted for approximately a month, so we were thrilled to hear that we came out on top to be named the #1 “Best Small Town Cultural Scene!” From a marketing perspective, it is invaluable to receive a national award from a well-known, reputable source like USA TODAY 10 Best! We also have the rights to use the USA TODAY 10 Best logo for marketing & promotional purposes over the next year so we can help promote our cultural scene and remarkably unique venues to tourists and conference meeting planners.”
What qualities do you feel led Lake City to be nominated?
“When you realize everything we have going on in Lake City, it’s pretty easy to understand. ArtFields received the Charles A. Bundy Award last year in recognition of its positive impact on tourism in rural communities. The upcoming inaugural Rhythm & Q’s BBQ Competition featuring live, local music boasts the largest cash prize purse for S.C. BBQ competitions. No visit to Lake City would be complete without a trip to Moore Farms Botanical Garden, known not only for its lush beauty, but for its engaging event calendar as well! Our historic downtown features great shopping & dining, a fabulous boutique hotel, and three art galleries! Lake City Creative Alliance brings art out into the streets of our historic downtown, with a variety of vibrant murals peppering downtown walls and sculptures enhancing the beauty of enchanting downtown floral beds. Also, local organizations like Lake City Community Theatre, Lake City Concert Series & Lynches Lake Historical Society add to our rich cultural tapestry that is obviously centered around the arts.”
What can we look forward to from Lake City to continue being named the “Best”?
“We’re moving full steam ahead with revitalization projects including several downtown apartments so residents can maximize the “live, work, play” feel that our downtown offers. We are actively filling the few available downtown retail spaces to complete the diverse palette of shopping & dining options available for locals and visitors. It’s particularly exciting that one of our historic venues, The Ragsdale Old Building (affectionately known as The ROB), has taken off as a hotspot for wedding receptions, trade shows and festivals! Upcoming events at The ROB include Lake City Community Outreach’s Hispanic Heritage Celebration, The Southeast Wedding & Event Expo, Pee Dee Comicon & SC Arms Collectors Association’s Gun & Knife Show. We’re excited to play a role in the continued development of Lake City as a destination for tourism, events, festivals and corporate conferences.”