There's something to be said about being selected by your peers as the best in your designated field. Who best to choose the Best of the Best in the area than those who use services from businesses in the community every day?
With almost 100 more guests than the previous year, business owners and workers gathered to recognize the Best of the Best in Watauga County at the annual ceremony hosted by the Watauga Democrat on April 11.
Best of the Best 2017 was sponsored by WJ Office, Highlands Union Bank and SkyLine/SkyBest.
The event — in its seventh year — garnered approximately 330 guests to witness the awards at the Alliance Bible Fellowship in Boone. The 150 categories — such as best ice cream/yogurt restaurant or best real estate agency— are voted upon by community members. Voting took place between January and February.
"It's a good way to recognize businesses that have been voted by their customers as the best in their particular category of business," said Charlie Price, marketing director with Mountain Times Publications. "Boone and Watauga County need to continue to exercise the best practices of good customer service and quality merchandise, and it's a way for us to recognize and reward that."
Michael Talley, the college pastor at Alliance, led the events invocation. Music was provided by Todd Wright and Friends.
Guests were able to enjoy food catered by Red Moon Catering and listen to the event's guest speaker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boone Area Chamber of Commerce David Jackson.
Jackson spoke to the crowd about how he first experienced the High Country by coming here with his family for vacation. He said after having interactions with the people in the area, he knew one day he would want to come back to this community. He then had everyone in the crowd raise their hand that came to Boone in the same way — by experiencing it through a trip.
"How many of you know that every day, you get a chance to connect with the next you and help our business community thrive?" Jackson asked. "That's the next version of what's going to make our community great, and they're going to follow your lead."
Gene Fowler, publisher of Mountain Times Publications, said this year there were nearly 8,000 individual ballots cast with potentially 80,000 votes cast.
"The community response in support of their Best of the Best has been amazing and the response from the community of winners even more so," Fowler said. "It's an outstanding statement on the strength of support our community shows for each other."