Lafayette wins Best Small Town for Food

by Anna Purdy

Our city has won Rand McNally's competition for the best place to eat in America. The winner was announced today in New Orleans.

Lafayette was one of six finalists for the title. Five two-member teams were sent out to find the best of several categories and team The Fun Finders, also knows as Jim and Bonnie Parr, came to our small city in search of the richest and most fun experience in food in the Best in Food category. Their visit included participating in a cooking class and demonstration to truly see how we make the food we're proud of. The Parrs visited Charley G's, French Press, Blue Dog Cafe, Jolie's, Dwyer's, Johnson's Boucaniere, Don's, Randol's for dinner and Cajun dancing and even St. Joseph's Diner to see the work our community does in feeding those down on their luck. The few days the couple were here were lined up with a food tour so we sent them full onto their next town.

The competition ended when all five teams, after touring the six towns who were finalists in their given categories, all by roadtrip. The teams landed in Glendale, Calif., where they consulted with a panel of travel experts and presented their travel journals. From there the winning towns were decided.

Each of the team's themselves were in competition. The same panel chose which team did the most thorough job and the winners received a $10,000 prize and got to keep the SAAB that was donated to each team for traveling. Unfortunately our guests The Fun Finders did not win but at least they know they are welcome back here anytime. City-Parish President Joey Durel awarded them the keys to the city so they can just go ahead and let themselves in.

The Fun Finders, according to Rand McNally's website, "learned the true taste of Cajun food to be flavorful, not hot or spicy' and that after a meal, the best dessert is Cajun dancing.'"

The Destination Marketing Association International hosts travel agents from all around the country and was a perfect place to announce the winners. Lafayette will get special mention on Rand McNally maps both virtual and tangible, highlighted with our winning title, and will also be heavily featured tomorrow in a spread for USA Today, receiving both national and international coverage.

What does this mean for Lafayette? If the old adage that any press is good press holds true, having such widespread coverage of our city being sung across the globe can only serve to increase the foothold this already strong small city has in tourism and attracting new businesses to move in. After all, we all have to eat, and what better place than Best for Food in the country?