Ten years ago the thought that there would be categories called “Best Spoken Word Artist” and “Best Indie Film Venue” would have been greeted with sardonic laughter. Even that short time ago, Savannah wasn’t quite ready for that kind of thing.
We still have a ways to go to match up with other metro areas in terms of diversity. San Franciso’s Bay Guardian has categories like “Best Taqueria” and “Best Peruvian Restaurant,” while the Miami New Times has categories like “Best Neighborhood Newspaper,” “Best Spot for Polyglots” and “Best Spanish Language TV Personality.” (One of my favorite all-time categories comes from the Chicago Reader: “Best Building for Wandering Around in Before Security Asks What You’re Doing There.”)
But still, a lot is moving very fast here — or fast by Savannah standards, anyway. It’s always interesting to compare results from year to year. Keep in mind that in this issue, you pick the winners. We have nothing to do with the results other than counting the votes.
Typically, evolving trends in Savannah are spotted in the pages of the Best of Savannah issue before they’ve really set in peoples’ minds.
The place to look is in categories that have long been dominated by a particular person or business. When you see that long-time winner bumped off, often that’s a sign that a tipping point has been reached, and passed.
This year there are plenty of surprises, but the most significant movement has been in the cuisine category. While we decided this year to give a little attention to winners like Case Veterinary Hospital and Elizabeth on 37th — who are longtime repeat winners but are also long overdue for a special treatment — you’ll notice several new winners.
Speaking of how we treat winners, you’ll notice that some of the winners are given extended entries this year. When you see that, it means one of three things, sometimes in combination:
• That winner is new and therefore more newsworthy;
• That winner is getting lots of buzz in the community;
• We just felt like it.
This year I decided to do away with the short-lived “Editor’s Picks” from last year’s issue. Unlike most alternative weeklies, which more and more are downplaying reader’s picks in favor of staff picks, I always want to keep our focus on what you think, not what we think.
In that spirit, I also opted to re-introduce the practice of listing the runners-up. This not only gives you more to talk about as you flip through the issue, but gives people and businesses a benchmark to see how they’re perceived in the community.
As you’re reading the icon-bedecked extended entries, note there will be initials at the end of the blurb. That’s to signify who wrote the blurb, to wit:
RWG: Robin Wright Gunn, a longtime contributor without whose cogent, relevant, and thoroughly well-written work this issue (and many others) would be a far lesser product;
LS: Our news editor Linda Sickler;
JR: Our music editor Jim Reed;
JM: Yours truly.
I wanted to give a special shout-out to contributing photographer Jen Blatty, who cheerfully, efficiently, and professionally went out and shot the assigned photos for this issue, thus not only relieving me of any worries about that side of things but giving us some really cool shots in the process.
Credit for laying out this week’s massive special issue is due to our production department, managed by Brandon Blatcher and featuring a new addition to the Connect team, Alice Johnston.
And let’s not forget our sterling sales staff, comprising Jay Lane and Bethany Pardee, led by general manager Chris Griffin.
But the most gratitude must go to you, who makes all this possible by sending in your votes, either online or by snail mail. By doing so, you are also taking part in one of the largest market research projects in Savannah. It’s through your opinion that we can know with certainty what’s hot and happening in town — both in terms of what’s new and noteworthy and what’s dependable and stolid.