We invited you to tell us the reasons why you love living in the mid-valley — and you answered us, more than 1,800 times.
And so here are the results: Your picks for “Top of the Valley” in more than 100 categories, from the best places to grab some appetizers to the best back roads in the mid-valley, from the best places to buy clothes for the kids to the annual highlights that brighten our days.
Over the weeks that our “Top of the Valley” polls were live on our websites, nearly 2,000 of you took the time to vote in at least one of the categories. We also received — and duly noted — four paper ballots during an open house at the Democrat-Herald.
Voters could choose to weigh in on one or all seven of the ballots, which were divided up by category: Food, drink, places, people, nightlife, shops and annual highlights.
Winners who struck us as particularly interesting are featured in longer stories in the pages of this “Top of the Valley” section. All the other winners are listed in shorter stories.
We don’t pretend that these are objective, scientific results. The ballots were open to anyone who was interested enough to take the time to vote. We let businesses and others lobby their friends to vote on their behalf — we thought that was part of the fun, and because of the way we tallied the results, we could tell when an effort like that was under way.
We do, however, think the combined results offer a wide-ranging view of life today in the mid-valley. We think this is a pretty special place to live — and it’s made more so by the efforts of our winners and nominees. We thank them.
We thank you as well — regardless of whether you’re a voter or just a reader coming to this “Top of the Valley” project for the first time. We hope you find this a fun read - and if you take note of some new restaurants or festivals or whatever else that you might want to explore, well, our work here is done.
The fine print
For each category, right underneath the winner, you’ll find four “finalists” — the next four top vote-getters, listed in order of the number of votes they received. In some cases, because of ties, more than four finalists are listed. We elected not to name winners in a few categories because we didn’t believe we received sufficient votes to declare a clear-cut winner: For example, we had some categories where more than 25 people each got one vote. In those cases, we decided not to name a winner — how could we? — and made a note not to ask about that category next year.
Planning and online voting for our “Top of the Valley” project was coordinated by Nancy Raskauskas. Mike McInally coordinated the counting of the ballots and did some of the writing. Wendy Kieffer designed the print section, including the cover. Judie Weissert and Gary Tackett coordinated the advertising. Travis Clark designed the logo and helped with online promotion. Bennett Hall, despite his best journalist title, did not participate in the creation of this section at all. But he probably would have if we had asked him.