After months of nominations, voting and campaigning, it’s finally official: The winner of this year’s America’s Main Streets Contest is Main Street Wellington in Wellington, Ohio. This historic neighborhood earned its place as America’s favorite Main Street with a compelling story that involves a few of America’s other favorites, including a patriotic painting, free parking and cheese.
The annual America’s Main Streets Contest highlights the important work that Main Street organizations do for their local communities. Members of the public nominate and vote for their favorite Main Street to win the coveted title and a $25,000 prize. This year, Independent We Stand and contest sponsors, which include STIHL, Do it Best Corp., PPG Paints and the North American Retail Hardware Association, will present Main Street Wellington with the grand prize during the village’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration.
Wellington sits in northern Ohio, approximately 40 miles southwest of Cleveland. Although small, the village is rich in history. In 1876, Ohio native Archibald Willard painted the iconic Yankee Doodle portrait, “The Spirt of ’76,” in Wellington. The painting shows a trio of parading musicians in what appears to be a Revolutionary battle. Willard was actually inspired by a real parade that took place though downtown Wellington at the time. Meanwhile, Wellington was building its reputation as the “Cheese Empire of the Nation” thanks to more than 40 cheese factories that filled the area during the 1800s.
Today, many of the historic red brick buildings from that era still line the streets of downtown Wellington. In recent years, a coalition of local residents and businesses has worked to restore these facades to their original glory. Main Street Wellington has rallied the community in support of its vibrant history through its revitalization program called “Paint the Town Proud.”
“It’s truly rewarding to see parts of our historic town come to life again with a fresh coat of paint,” says Scott Jerousek, third-generation business owner of Farm & Home Hardware, a Wellington-based Do it Best member store. “With the support of the America’s Main Streets Contest, we are excited to be able to do even more.”
With the $25,000 prize, Main Street Wellington will continue its Paint the Town Proud program. There are plans to refresh downtown with signs telling the town’s history and directing visitors to free parking. In particular, the community will restore a downtown building damaged by fire. True to the village’s history, the renovation will preserve and highlight the building’s signature “cheese” signs.
To learn more about how you can support the shop-local movement, visit independentwestand.org.
The 2019 America’s Main Streets Contest Finalists
There are hundreds of favorite Main Streets throughout the country. The America’s Main Streets Contest shines a light on the thoroughfares that connect residents, small businesses and heritage. Here are this year’s nine other finalist communities. Click here to learn more about each finalist.
This is the fourth annual America’s Main Streets Contest. Click here to read about the past three winning communities.
- Texarkana, Arkansas
- Benicia, California
- LaBelle, Florida
- Canton, Georgia
- Logansport, Indiana
- Peru, Indiana
- Saco, Maine
- Big Rapids, Michigan
- Rutland, Vermont