New Ulm a Top Ten Finalist in race for ‘Best Minnesota Town’

NEW ULM — Minnesota Monthly magazine is hosting the second annual contest to determine which Minnesotan town best embodies the “Spirit of Minnesota.” New Ulm has been named one of ten finalists for this year’s contest.

Dozens of towns signed up and submitted photos, videos, information about the towns history, geography and signature landmarks, cultural challenges and opportunities, community events and resources, diversity and outstanding citizens.

Since a town can only be nominated by a town official or a city representative, Sarah Warmka of the Chamber of Commerce and then-intern Abby Berg took it upon themselves to sign New Ulm up for the competition. In a collective effort they had to answer 12 questions with a 300 words essay, in which they told the judges about what makes New Ulm stand out and how it captures the “Spirit of Minnesota,” which Warmka associates heavily with “Minnesota Nice.”

“The Minnesota Nice is something that is very common in New Ulm, with the ‘Willkommen’ signs and that we always try to make new people feel welcomed here. We even have our own Willkommen Committee, as well as the ‘No matter where you are from, I am glad you are my neighbor’ signs you can see in many of the yards here,” said Warmka.

Another key aspect for the judges was the history of a town — a category in which Warmka sees another strong suit of New Ulm.

“Almost no city has more history than this town. Just think about it: two of the seven Dakota wars took place here, so we have a lot of Native American history. We also have Turner Hall as a remnant from the first settlers here, we have Heritagefest, now Bavarian Blast, we have the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and we have of course the German-American monument with Hermann,” Warmka said.

This is not New Ulm’s first time as a Finalist of the contest. The town was voted into the Top Ten of Minnesota’s Best Towns last year as well. Warmka is confident about New Ulm’s chances:

“I moved here in 2014, so I am completely unbiased when I say that there is just something special about this town. And making the Top Ten is already great and gives New Ulm a lot of publicity. Nonetheless it would be fantastic to be featured in such a widely-read and respected magazine, so spread the word, invite your family and friends to support this town and vote for New Ulm.”

The Top Ten Finalists as chosen by Minnesota Monthly are Eden Prairie, Fergus Falls, Little Falls, New Ulm, Northfield, Roseville, St. Cloud, Wabasha, Waconia and White Bear Lake. The winner will be determined by taking into account public votes and the votes of a jury panel. Public votes make up 25 percent of the final score, the judges’ decision 75 percent. The panel of judges consists of Doug Loon, the president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce; Rick Kupchella, an Informed Engagement Network; and Kate Roberts, senior exhibitor developer for the Minnesota Historical Society. The public can vote for their favorite town until Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. on the website. Each person is allowed to vote ten times per day.

The winner and three finalists will be announced in person at Minnesota Monthly’s “Best of Minnesota Party” on Dec. 5, 2018. The winning town will receive a multi-page editorial feature, an advertising campaign worth $50,000, and a party. Last year’s ‘Best Minnesota Town’ winner was Bemidji in northwestern Minnesota.