By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Parade magazine honors McMinnville

Molly Walker/News-RegisterMaggie Murphy, right, editor of Parade Magazine, and Dave Barber, middle, of its Newspaper Relations Group, present McMinnville mayor Rick Olson with the city’s finalist award from the magazine’s America’s Best Main Street 2014 contest.
Molly Walker/News-Register
Maggie Murphy, right, editor of Parade Magazine, and Dave Barber, middle, of its Newspaper Relations Group, present McMinnville mayor Rick Olson with the city’s finalist award from the magazine’s America’s Best Main Street 2014 contest.

"We were first-timers and felt so comfortable, so at home," Murphy said. "That's the magic. McMinnville has the magic."

Murphy serves as editor of Parade, a Sunday supplement claiming 32 million subscribers and 57 million readers. Barber serves as vice president of its Newspaper Relations Group.

They arrived in McMinnville Monday. After enjoying a dinner at Nick's Italian Cafe, they spent the night in some of Third Street Flats' new accommodations in the Oddfellows Building.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, they presented McMinnville with its finalist award, for finishing in the top two in the magazine's America's Best Main Street 2014 contest.

Despite the early time frame, a large group of individuals gathered in the Edward J. Gormley Plaza on Second Street, including Gormley, a former long-time mayor.

Cassie Sollars, manager of the McMinnville Downtown Association, led off by saying,"It's not often we get national recognition. This was an amazing, amazing trip."

She said she was excited just to see McMinnville make the initial field of 16, announced in late June. But as the votes were tallied in a series of progressively more challenging daily matchups, McMinnville kept prevailing, eventually making the finals.

McMinnville squared off with Collierville, Tennessee, in the culminating round. The voting was conducted July 2, but Collierville's victory wasn't announced until mid-August.

Collierville received a cover spread and feature story in both the magazine's Aug. 17 print edition, plus a story and 12 color photos online. McMinnville received a print mention, with a black and white photo of Third Street, plus an online story also accompanied by 12 color photos.

"To be a finalist is a testament to what we call our living room," Sollars said. People have worked hard, she added, to make this community one of the best in the U.S.

When Barber got his turn, he began by offering his congratulations to McMinnville and his thanks to those attending the ceremony.

He noted that Parade is the largest magazine in the United States, and thousands of towns were nominated by thousands of readers. That made it a real honor, he said.

"We're thrilled to be here," Barber said. "We'll be back."

Murphy, too, thanked those in attendance."I really feel at home in this living room," she said.

She said the idea was generated last fall. She attended a newspaper convention where the discussion focused around downtowns, and she felt it was something the magazine could celebrate, as it views its mission as serving small town American.

In the past, Murphy said, that would have meant hiring a group to determine the direction. But thanks to social media, they were able to simplify and democratize that process.

The magazine published a call for nominations in two editions, one in March and the other in May. From the thousands of nominations, the editors, working with a set of basic criteria, came up with a top 16.

In deciding to conduct the voting bracket style, Murphy asked, "Why should that be limited to March Madness?"

Murphy said people loved sharing what makes McMinnville special. She said she was amazed at history of McMinnville's downtown, which now serves as a role model for others across the country.

Mayor Rick Olson said he's been asked what is the one thing that makes McMinnville special.

"It isn't just one thing, it's a combination of everything," he said. He added he likes to use the slogan, "Living life McMinnville style."

Olson thanked to Murphy and Barber for the recognition generated by the contest, which he expects to help boost tourism. He then accepted the award on the community's behalf.

Sollars concluded with a thanks to Nathan Knottingham, McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President, for his help in the effort. Then she urged all in attendance to "have a fantastic McMinnville day."

After the ceremony, Murphy said she and Barber were thrilled to be able to present the honors to McMinnville officials in person. That kind of personal contact is what she really likes about her job, she said.

Barber said he couldn't wait to get back to his own community and share some of what he'd seen. He said there were many lessons to be learned. 

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS