Best of Springfield 2016

Back in 1984 we ran our first Best of Springfield reader survey. Thirty-two years later we›re still at it, and Best of Springfield has become a brand of its own. Thank goodness for technology – it makes counting votes just a little bit easier than the old paper ballots. We’re now in our second year of a two tiered voting process. We had an open ballot in late August, and readers nominated their favorites in more than 180 categories. After some careful vetting, and a few internal arguments, we took the top vote-getters in each category and opened up a final ballot for voting. And then we waited. And watched. Finalists were excited, and shared their good news and campaigned for your votes. There was no name-calling, no cries of rigged elections. We held no debates. The enthusiasm for Best of Springfield continues to amaze this small but mighty staff. Five categories, 173 subcategories and 768 unique finalists comprised our final ballot and 284,715 votes were cast. Our Best of Springfield issue includes write ups on our most popular categories, with the complete list available online at illinoistimes. com. Local swimmer Ryan Held won an Olympic Gold medal this year, and claims a Best of Springfield prize for Best Athlete as well. But in the count for most votes overall, Held took silver and Mel-O-Cream scored the gold, making the donut subcategory our highest vote-getter this year. Thanks for your nominations, votes and friendly campaigning. Thanks to our advertisers and to our dedicated staff for your teamwork and collaboration in putting together this annual favorite. Thanks to Ace Sign Co. for making window decals for our winners. Thanks to our writers – Bruce Rushton, Pat Yeagle, Nan Bulli, Tom Irwin and Tom Pavlik. Thanks to our photographers – Brian Bowles, Tim Smith, Mallorie Lohman and Pat Yeagle. Thanks to our design team – Dave Hine, Joe Copley, Diane Lyddon, Brad Howlett and Susie Green (yes, I put my sister to work!). Thanks to the best marketing team in Springfield – Beth Irwin, Teri Hill, Jeff Elliott and Yolanda Bell. Thanks to Brenda Matheis, who manages the office in the middle of all this madness, and to Fletcher Farrar, whose commitment to IT and our staff is exemplary. Cheers to all the nominees, and congrats to the winners. Winners’ certificates are here at the office. Drop on by – we’d love to congratulate you in person. Lisa Ellis, associate publisher