For quite a number of years, the Fillmore County Journal has administered a contest devoted to encouraging readers to vote for their favorite businesses in approximately 40 different categories.
At the end of the contest, we tally up the results to determine which businesses or organizations received the most votes in their respective category. We conduct a drawing from all of the entries, so one lucky person receives a $50 gift certificate.
Quite a number of media companies coordinate a “Best of the Best” contest, including the Post-Bulletin, Rochester Magazine, and KTTC (to name a few).
With the Fillmore County Journal contest, we have a strict requirement that ballots cannot be submitted in bulk. When we first started this contest, that quickly became a concern. We wanted to prevent the potential for someone to stuff the ballot box in favor of a particular business.
So, every vote must be submitted on an individual basis via mail or dropped off at our office in Preston, Minn.
Over the years, we have seen certain communities become more active to help promote the businesses located in their community. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Last year, we saw an increase in ballots from the Spring Valley area, and this year we saw a high tide of ballots from the Rushford area. All of the other communities in Fillmore County also had their share of voters, but I was surprised to see voters from Olmsted County (Rochester), Iowa and Wisconsin.
One thing that I feel comes out of this contest is a sense of community pride. People are proud of the many local, family-owned businesses who provide products and services, and this presents an opportunity to show their gratitude.