And then there were eight.
Eau Claire passed another test Monday in Outside magazine’s Best Town Ever contest by topping Rochester, Minn., by more than 5,000 votes in the third round.
In the contest in which winners are determined through online voting, Eau Claire garnered 62 percent of the vote in defeating Rochester 17,532 to 12,085. Eau Claire’s vote tally was more than 3,000 higher than any of the other cities advancing to the contest’s Elite Eight.
Next up for Eau Claire is a Midwest regional final matchup against Spearfish, S.D. The five-day voting window closes at 10:59 p.m. Saturday.
Other communities still in the running to be named Best Town Ever are: Flagstaff, Ariz.; Bar Harbor, Maine; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Port Angeles, Wash.; Middlebury, Vt.; and Boone, N.C.
The contest kicked off May 4 with 16 U.S. cities in four brackets.
Here’s what Outside editors had to say about how they picked locations for their fifth annual Best Town Ever contest: “We looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene — all while excluding the winners and runners-up from the past three years to make room for hidden gems, underdogs and towns on the rise.”
In September, the magazine will feature the 16 cities receiving the most votes, a list that now includes Eau Claire.
To vote and see the bracket of competing cities, visit http://www.outsideonline.com/1972941/best-towns-2015.