Niche (Niche.com) used to be a site that just ranked schools around the country, both K-12 and college by combining student reviews, professional opinions and piles of raw data. They recently started applying the Niche system to rank cities around the country and just a few weeks ago they released their “Best Towns,” “Best Suburbs” and “Best Cities” rankings.
Of course, even though it does incorporate some raw data it’s still not completely objective — there’s always going to be an element of personal preference when it comes to the difficult task of ranking communities.
And a disclaimer like that might make it seem like Sedalia didn’t fare so well but that’s not really the case — by Niche standards Sedalia is a “town” because it would have to have more than 100,000 people to reach “city” status. And Sedalia is nobody’s suburb, jack.
The Missouri suburb rankings are kind of funny, anyhow — all 25 of the top 25 suburbs in Missouri are around St. Louis. If you’re into suburban life, near St. Louis is the only place to be, I guess.
But we’re here to talk about Sedalia specifically. According to the 2015 Niche rankings of the best towns, Sedalia is the 13th best town in Missouri. Right below us is Warrensburg at 14th and Cape Girardeau at 15th. Our state capital comes in at 9th and Branson is 10th. Joplin, Marshall, Boonville and Clinton are just some of the communities that failed to make it into the top 25.
The top two “towns” in Missouri are Eureka and St. Charles, which isn’t surprising – maybe the good people at Niche are biased towards the St. Louis area.
But that leaves us wondering where Sedalia would be ranked when compared to all those “cities” and all those “suburbs.”
Reviews from people who supposedly live in Sedalia are part of the calculation of the Niche ranking, but I think some of these people live in a different Sedalia than the one I know. One person gave the “Visiting at Sedalia” section a 2/5 ranking and had this to say: “However this is not a place to take a family vacation.”
What? Sedalia is the perfect place for a family vacation — well maybe it’s only a 5/5 around Missouri State Fair time — but off season Sedalia deserves at least a 3, or maybe even a 4! There’s the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, the Katy Depot, the Trail’s End monument, ragtime and other monuments in downtown Sedalia, two great pools with great slides, and lots of park space in general.
But the most baffling review, which is almost offensive to me as a Sedalian, is a 3-star review for “Food & Drink in Sedalia” which starts off like this: “Sedalia does not have many choices.”
Really? I think one of the top selling points of the State Fair City is the fact that it has its fair share of eateries that are both unique to Sedalia and have high quality offerings. There’s Kehde’s, Little Big Horn, Dickie Doo, Patricia’s, Lemaire’s, Brick Front Grill, North 65, Ivory Grille, The Mason Jar, Bar-B-Que Pit Stop, and Goody’s just to name a few. How many “towns” have a non-chain local donut shop like Papa Jake’s these days?
When people visit me here in Sedalia they always marvel at the variety of quality dining options.
But that’s the thing when you allow online reviews — anyone can do it, and anyone can act like they live somewhere. Maybe it’s a double agent from Warrensburg or one of the other towns below Sedalia — cheaters never win, and winners never cheat, you know!