Abilene named one of Best True West Towns, Historic Small Towns

FILE - An Abilene welder is creating what he hopes will be the largest belt buckle in the world.
FILE - An Abilene welder is creating what he hopes will be the largest belt buckle in the world.(KWCH)
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 2:25 PM CST
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ABILENE, Kan. (WIBW) - The City of Abilene has been named one of the Best True West Towns of the year and has been named as a finalist in USA Today’s Best Historic Small Town contest.

For the fifth year in a row, the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau says the town has been named a finalist in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Best Historic Small Town contest.

“This is so exciting,” said Julie Roller Weeks, Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau director. “Receiving this recognition once is a big deal, let alone five years in a row. It’s unimaginable!”

In 2022, the Bureau said Abilene came in second in the nation in the top 10 contest.

“Thank you to the tourism attractions, businesses, residents, employees, volunteers, and leaders who help make Abilene the best historic small town,” Roller Weeks said. “Thank you to the voters who continue to vote for our five-star community.”

The Bureau noted that a panel of relevant experts chooses nominees for all categories and includes a combination of USA Today editors, 10Best.com editors, relevant expert contributors and sources for both media and other Gannett properties.

According to the Bureau, all voting is digital and the 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest is accessible HERE.

10Best said finalists have big histories and small populations - fewer than 35,000 - which makes them fun and affordable ways to dive into the nation’s past.

The Bureau indicated that online voting started on Monday, Jan. 23, and will end at 10:59 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10.

“Please encourage your friends, family, employees, customers, visitors and fellow Kansans to vote daily,” Roller Weeks said. “We need your help to win.”

The Bureau also announced that following a banner year in 2022, 2023 is now off to a great start with the town having been named one of the Top 10 True Western Towns of the Year.

“While a small community, Abilene’s tourist attractions rival that of towns many times its population and this award celebrates not only Abilene’s wild and wooly Chisholm Trail days but also our efforts to continue to enhance and promote our western history,” said Roller Weeks.

In 2018, the Bureau noted that Abilene earned the first place spot in the magazine’s rankings and received recognition in its Best Promotion of a Historic Place category in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

The Bureau indicated that visitors can explore Abilene’s cowboy story with a stroll down the streets of Old Abilene Town, a ride with the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad, a tour of the Dickinson Co. Heritage Center and a visit to the Cowboy Boot Art Trail where they will see western-themed murals, the World’s Largest Belt Buckle and Big Spur and attend the Wild Bill Hickic PRCA rodeo.

For more information about Abilene, click HERE.