An athlete waves from Ross's Landing to volunteers on paddle boards and kayaks in the Tennessee River who helped him during the swim portion Ironman Triathlon in Chattanooga on Sept. 28, 2014.



Best Town Ever Viewing Party sponsored by Rock/Creek Outfitters and Toad&Co.
When: Today, noon to 3 p.m.
Where: Tremont Tavern, 1203 Hixson Pike, Chattanooga

The "BEAT BOONE" campaign is in the home stretch.

Chattanooga is in a heated battle with Elite Eight opponent Boone, N.C., to move into the semifinals of Outside Magazine's "Best Town Ever" competition, and voting ends at 11:59 p.m. today.

The March Madness-style tournament kicked off on May 4, with each round of online voting lasting five days. The competition chose 64 cities and towns based on several criteria including access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and a quality beer scene.

Chattanooga has made a strong return to the competition since serving a mandatory three-year hiatus after winning the crown in 2011. It's already vanquished Roanoke, Va., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Beaufort, S.C., on the way to its date with Boone, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.

With almost 57,000 votes cast as of Friday night, Chattanooga leads by a slim 1,600 votes.

Chattanooga, however, is about 10 times larger than the North Carolina town, with 173,778 residents compared to Boone's population of 17,122.

Chattanooga businesses, including Lamp Post Group and Rock/Creek Outfitters, have gotten in the spirit, encouraging locals to vote.

"ATTN: Chattanooga, we're up for Best Town Ever again! But to get the belt a second time, we need your help. Go vote!" Lamp Post Group wrote on its Twitter account May 4.

Rock/Creek and Toad&Co. even hosted a "Best Town Ever Voting Party" at Community Pie on Wednesday, offering a free beer to the first 100 voters. According to their Facebook page, they're hosting another voting party with the same free beer offer plus gift cards and swag today from noon until 3 p.m. at Tremont Tavern.

Winners advance until just two towns remain on May 29. The town with the most votes as of June 5 will be crowned the winner.

Contact Will Healey at or 423-757-6731.