Who has the best pizza? Where is the best place to buy a new car? Who carries the best shoes in town? Where is the best place to take a first date? They’re questions we all struggle with in life, but thank goodness for encore’s annual Best Of poll! We’re here to make your decisions a little easier in the coming year.
For more than 25 years, encore’s annual Best Of Wilmington has been leading folks in all kinds of directions on where to spend their money locally, who to support in the arts, as well as who to trust in everything from local media to nonprofits. To put it simply: encore holds the official “Best Of” moniker, and our readers’ opinions matter a whole bunch!
In 2016, we culled over 20,000 voices to weigh in on the Best Of Wilmington. Nominations opened in mid-November and closed mid-December 2015, before final voting began and closed mid-January 2016. The community-at-large cast their favorites through our online voting system, featuring over 130 categories.
At encore we try to be as fair as possible with our Best Of poll, and while we allow local businesses and groups to campaign so their patrons/fans will vote for them, we do lay a few ground rules in campaigning practices. No, we’re not the NC Board of Elections but we want to play fair.
1) No stuffing the ballot box! Don’t vote under multiple email addresses, or encourage customers and employees to do so. If you have a list of email addresses that don’t belong to you, please, don’t fill out ballots in their names.
2) Do not entice patrons/fans into voting by offering specials, discounts or prizes in exchange for votes.
After voting closed, encore threw its annual Best Of party at Brooklyn Arts Center on Saturday, February 27. The event benefitted DREAMS of Wilmington—a local nonprofit and multidisciplinary arts program for at-risk youth (see the story from encore’s February 24 edition for info on DREAMS). Thanks to 408 tickets sold and numerous raffles, DREAMS raised more than $10,000 and will take in $7,600 after expenses. This money allows them to accept 45 students into their three-week summer intensive arts program.
Our Best Of hosts, comedy troupe Pineapple-Shaped Lamps (our dashing cover models for the March 9, 2016 edition), entertained with a plethora of sketches across every category of award winners—all set to the theme, “2016: A Space Odyysey: Invasion of the Trophy Snatchers.” Aside from threatening world domination, they ensured audiences were rolling in laughter during skits and interpretive dance numbers. As a bonus: The funny Pineapples also got to know DREAMS students and even made videos with our Best Of house band, The Midatlantic, all of whom spoke about the importance of having arts education in youth.
We stuffed ourselves silly, thanks to food donated from numerous nominees in the “Food and Beverage” category. We danced to DJ Time and DJ Filthy spinning everything from “Fame” to “Weird Science.” The Midatlantic played their brand of bluegrass throughout the night as well, and Chris Brehmer Photography caught it on film as our official Best Of photographer. Brehmer’s photos will be published over the next four editions of encore and in our official Best Of Book (published summer 2016), as we announce all winners.
An amazing solar system, DREAMS rocket included, decorated the venue, thanks to the wonderful students at DREAMS flexing their creative muscles. And “Futurama” characters Leela (Rose Hunt) and Bender (Rick Searcy) made an appearance and took top applause from the audience in our annual costume contest. They scored tickets to see Jewel at Cape Fear Stage on March 18.
Really, we were there to celebrate our besties! So, without further ado, allow us to introduce you to the Best Of Wilmington, class of 2016! Congrats, all! (Click on below categories to read Best Of writeups—all of which will be updated and completed by March 30, 2016.)