After a disappointing second-place finish in a national online contest that would have brought $500,000 to their city, the charming Mississippi River town of Red Wing is once again in the running for some cash.
Albeit it's for a much smaller sum — $25,000.
Red Wing along with two other Minnesota communities — Shakopee and Northfield — have been named as quarterfinalists in the Independent We Stand "America's Main Streets" contest put on by the Stihl outdoor equipment manufacturing company to "promote the importance and strong economic benefits of these Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive."
In February, Red Wing seemed to be on its way to winning the Small Business Revolution contest — a competition to win marketing support for a city's small businesses, downtowns and broader community — sponsored by Shoreview-based Deluxe Corp.
It surged ahead of four other towns in the voting on the contest's final day. Townspeople turned out in droves for early morning pep rallies, nighttime pizza parties and filled social media imploring anybody and everybody to vote for the city best known for its leather, pottery and Red Wing Shoes.
With high expectations on the day of the announcement, the city brought out firetrucks and had a band ready to play. But there was no celebrating as a late flurry of voting pushed Bristol Borough, Pa., into the top spot.
"Disappointing," said Bill Hanisch, owner of the Hanisch Bakery and Coffee Shop. Enthusiasm for the latest contest, he said, has been tepid as the sting from February's defeat hasn't worn off. The Stihl's contest also has a much longer voting period and Hanisch said he expects interest to pick up as the May 28 deadline nears.
"We are cautiously optimistic," said Megan Tsui of the group Red Wing Downtown Main Street.
Last week, to jump-start discussion and voting, the group put out messages on social media.
The Stihl contest allows voters to cast one entry each 24-hour period per internet address. In its profile, Red Wing said it would use the money to host more events downtown and provide support to local business owners.
A contest winner will be selected on June 2.