Jacksonville’s Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast and the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau were recently recognized with Practically Perfect in Every Way Awards from Trippin’ Southern Style. Joanie and Jenni B., a mother-daughter team of passionate media storytellers’ and social media influencers presented the awards.
Their 2020 mission was to “Find the Best Small Town in America.” Joanie says, “From tropical Key West to wintry Lake Mills, we met some amazing people. We visited amazing places, stayed at amazing B&B’s, and ate delicious food. Of course, we did a lot of shopping and we had some other great experiences along the way. We decided that since everybody has been so amazing this year, even with the pressures of a pandemic, we needed to present these awards. We spent weeks reviewing our year, looking back at the wonderful memories we’ve made, to determine who would receive them.”
Jenni said, “These are the first awards we have presented, and no one knew we were going to do it. We focused on The Best Restaurant, The Best B&B and The Best Small Town. To say that ‘choosing was difficult’ is the understatement of the century.”
Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast of Jacksonville, Illinois, was recognized as The Best B&B in 2020. Jenni says, “This one was tough. We’ve been to an unreal number of B&B’s this year, all of them different and unique in their own way, but if you’ve watched our videos you should not be surprised. Blessings on State is what we would say is the quintessential, perfect in every way, bed and breakfast.”
The Best Small-Town award went to Jacksonville, Illinois. Jenni reports, “We visited some amazing small towns this year, but there really was no competition for the winner.” Joanie said, “We look at the whole picture of the small town, not just right around where we stay. We’re talking about how people interacted with us all over town, including places that were not hosting us.” Jenni agreed, saying, “Every corner of Jacksonville, from the downtown to the outskirts, was positively perfect in every way.”
Jacksonville’s Lonzerotti’s Italia Restaurant, Mulligan’s, KJB’s, Burger Board and Leo’s Pizza were all in the running for The Best Restaurant award that went to Clyde’s Table in Cleveland, Georgia.
Innkeeper Gwenn Eyer and her assistant Kelly Jones worked with Brittany Henry, JACVB Executive Director, to prepare an action-packed itinerary to welcome Joanie and Jenni B. to the community and offer them an authentic Jacksonville experience. Other community stakeholders joined in to support their visit. They were so impressed and felt so welcome that they returned in November for Elves Weekend at Blessings on State. They filmed some additional experiences at that time, and all of the videos are available on their Joanie & Jenni B. YouTube channel.
Henry and Eyer were pleased to receive the awards. They recognize that sharing positive experiences with others is one of the best ways to promote tourism. Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is a top-rated full-service bed and breakfast, and Eyer notes that reviews and word-of-mouth promotion has been critical in allowing them to maintain their business. She said, “Having their attention is a huge asset, not only for my own business, but also for all of our community partners. Joanie and Jenni B, through their photos, videos and media channels, will help us share our community.”
Henry concurred. “I’m happy that we were able to share our own small-town experience to Jenni and Joanie, and I’m so happy and proud that they had such a good experience that they wanted to use their influence to let others know what we have here. We do all that we can to show what we have to offer, but when the message comes from someone from outside our community it just makes the message that much louder, especially coming from Jenni and Joanie who have their own influence in the social media world. We always talk about how important our businesses and community members are to our success, and now we can point directly to this award and show that hard work and great Midwest hospitality has a positive effect on how visitors see us. The Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is established as a destination marketing organization to promote tourism, conventions and other special events and to attract non-residents to visit the area. Gaining the attention of travel bloggers who share all the fun things to do and see, great places to eat, unique places to visit and terrific places to shop in Jacksonville is a terrific honor.”