Locals’ Choice 2017 is better than ever | PostIndependent.com

Locals’ Choice 2017 is better than ever

Randy Essex

This is the last week to vote in the annual Post Independent Locals’ Choice, which we have changed in a few ways this year that we think make the awards more valuable, valid and fun. Part of that will be a new party to announce and pass out the awards.

If you’re not familiar with it, Locals’ Choice tabulates votes in 98 categories such as Best Auto Dealer, Best Boutique, Best Burger, Best Dessert (I’m personally eager to try the top finishers in this one), Best Date Spot, Best Law Enforcement Officer … lots and lots of good stuff across Garfield County and nearby.

Winning merchants often display their certificates in storefronts as endorsements for would-be customers, which can be particularly important for our summer visitors, but also represents a stamp of patrons’ approval.

The biggest complaint we’ve had about the program in recent years is the unlimited voting we allowed. It was like voting for Major League All Stars — people could vote as often as they wanted. Some businesses took that very seriously — which spoke to the awards’ value — and established systems for employees and friends to vote early and often.

While the rules were the same for everyone, this led to complaints that some winners had “stuffed the ballot box.”

This year, we decided to try limiting voting to one ballot per registration. The idea is to make voting represent a broader cross-section of the community, and to allow each resident’s vote to carry proportionally more weight. This way, the winners will really be the choice of locals, rather than employees.

We hoped this would increase the number of people registering to vote, and it has, with 2,469 signed up as of Sunday morning, compared with 2,177 for all of last year’s voting period. And we have a week to go in 2017. (By the way, we are deleting obviously duplicate emails in keeping with the spirit of the new rules.)

To register and vote, go here: http://tinyurl.com/LocalsChoice2017.

The other big change is that we are doing the awards earlier in the year, in part so winning merchants can display their certificates by Memorial Day weekend rather than having to wait until mid-June.

In recent years, we’ve announced and presented the awards on the Friday of Strawberry Days, which is on Father’s Day weekend. We read the winners and handed out certificates in Sayre Park. It’s fair to say our awards weren’t the main attraction.

So this year, we’re partnering with John Goss, owner of the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue for a stand-alone awards extravaganza — extravaganza! — on Thursday, May 18. The tentative plan is for doors to open at 5 p.m. and for folks to buy a drink and/or mingle until 5:45.

John has agreed to hop onto his amazing Wurlitzer Photoplayer, the funky keyboard-driven noisemaker made for sound effects during silent movies. That will kick things off; then Don Chaney, one of the nominees for Best Comedian, will do a short stand-up routine.

After everybody is laughing, a few of you have had a drink, we’ll announce the winners.

So here’s our hope: Vote this week if you haven’t for your favorite people and places. There’s no Electoral College or gerrymandering involved — your vote counts more than ever. Then join us May 18 at the Vaudeville.

The annual special section will come out the next day, Friday, May 19.

This is going to be fun.

Randy Essex is publisher and editor of the Post Independent.