- Associated Press - Monday, January 18, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Rapid City’s image has always leaned Western, but it’ll gladly claim Midwestern status for the sake of an award and a possible spot on a magazine cover.

The city is one of 12 finalists in Midwest Living magazine’s first-ever Greatest Midwest Town competition.

Only tiny Medora, North Dakota, is farther west among the 12 cities up for the honor. There is one finalist from each state in the magazine’s conception of the Midwest, which stretches from Minnesota to Missouri and the Dakotas to Ohio. The towns range in population from barely more than 100 to more than 80,000.

Voting is open until Feb. 29 at midwestliving.com/vote. As of the afternoon of Jan. 11, Rapid City sat in eighth position with 401 votes. The leader, Traverse City, Michigan, had 1,735 votes.

The winning town will be given a community celebration and coverage in the magazine, plus representation on the cover of the July-August issue, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1SQNRJK ) reported.

That’s enticing for the staff of the Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau, which regularly advertises in the magazine and sees value in a free listing that could bring more visitors to the city.

“To be on the cover,” said Julie Schmitz Jensen, the bureau’s executive director and vice president, “that would be huge.”

The surprising inclusion of Rapid City on a list of greatest Midwest cities is not lost on Schmitz Jensen, who recalls that her organization’s former branding campaign for the city was “Star of the West.” Rather than the West or Midwest, she said, the city could perhaps be best described as part of “Mid-America,” a more generalized term that doesn’t sound too far away from anything.

The bureau’s current branding campaign, “Do Big Things,” focuses more on what the city has to offer to tourists than on its geographic identity.

“We just want people to get on our website and look at all the great things to see or do, and not think of us as being in any particular region,” Schmitz Jensen said.

Still, the organization covets the attention of Midwest Living, whose readers are among the most likely to make road trips to see the many attractions of Rapid City and the Black Hills. And she’s hoping for a boost in contest voting from Rapid City residents and others.

“You can vote every day,” she pointed out.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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