As the America’s Best Communities competition comes to a close, local organizers have planned a weekend rally ahead of two results viewing parties next week.

At 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ohio Theatre, the public is invited to attend the “Rally to be America’s Best.”

The first 200 people to arrive will receive free popcorn and t-shirts designed by Nick Meacham. A group photo will be taken at 6 p.m. in front of the theater. Those that cannot attend the event are encouraged to wear red, white and blue on Saturday to “show the vast local support” in the community.

Next week, local ABC team members Valecia Crisafulli, Jim Olson, Lindsay Bloos, Andrew Forrester and mayor Damon Welch will fly to Denver, Colo. for the America’s Best Communities Award Ceremony.

The ceremony will be streamed live at 7 p.m. Wednesday. For locals, viewing parties will be hosted beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Boneyard Grill, 513 Clifty Drive, and The Red Bicycle Hall, 125 E. Main St. Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available at either event where the ceremony will be streamed on a large screen.

Out of more than 350 cities that applied, Madison is among eight finalists for the title of America’s Best Community. On Wednesday, the winning community will receive $3 million and the second and third place winners will receive $2 and $1 million, respectively.

“Of course we are excited to get to Denver, share our successes over the last three years, and hopefully return with one of the grand prizes. But, even if we don’t win a grand prize, the America’s Best Communities competition has fostered a pride and unity in the community that has been priceless. It has also laid the foundation for future community and economic development success,” said ABC Team Member Andrew Forrester in a release.

Madison has already received $50,000 when it was announced as a quarter-finalist in early 2015 and then $100,000 when it reached finalist status in April last year.

Over the past three years, ABC projects have included Mulberry Street façade work, Mulberry Streetscape work, the reopening of Hatcher Hill and related trail events, Madison Moves!, Reimagine Mulberry, and a Mulberry Street brunch. Additional work on the Hatcher Hill trail, including permanent fencing, signage, benches and trash cans, will be completed over the spring and summer. Streetscape and façade work is expected to continue on Mulberry Street as well.

The competition, sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel, first began in 2014 in the hopes of sparking economic revitalization in small towns and rural communities.

To learn more about the ABC competition, visit