Saturday, November 10, 2001
Best of the 'Boat is something the Pilot & Today has never done before, but judging from the success we have had the first time around, it certainly is something we look forward to doing well into the future.
We asked residents for their opinions on 172 specific categories, from the best convenience store to the best Web site and just about everything in between. We ran ballots for weeks on end and asked people to fill them out, telling us their favorite dog breed, the best ski town pickup line, the best place to have a picnic and the best car for locals, among other things.
The list was exhaustive, which made counting the results even more so. But when staff members at the Pilot & Today sat down to develop what we wanted to be on our inaugural Best of the 'Boat ballot, we decided to be as inclusive as possible, figuring it's better to have too many categories than not enough.
The response to was tremendous. Nearly 300 people sent in ballots, most of them with a majority of the categories filled out. There were enough votes to name winners in all but a handful of categories.
Rest assured, Best of the 'Boat was not compiled and completed without some controversy. We received about a dozen complaints from readers who said Steamboat residents were in no position to judge certain categories and that holding this contest would hurt the businesses who did not win. Some called Best of the 'Boat a silly popularity contest; others said the contest served to divide the community.
We listened and weighed all of those concerns as we decided how to present our first Best of the 'Boat section. In the end, we chose to move forward while being careful to present the section for what it is a fun and worthwhile project that our readers and advertisers will enjoy.
Best of the 'Boat is not a scientific poll. It is simply the chance for readers to tell us what local restaurant fare they like the best, which stores they've had particularly good experiences with and which people ought to be appreciated for the work they do. Keep that perspective in mind as you read through the section.
Because we included so many categories and named the top three finishers in each, the section includes a diverse array of people, products, business and places. Being a relative newcomer to the area, I found it informative to learn readers' opinions about scenic drives, margaritas, skis and other things I know little about. Most of all though, the results were simply fun to read.
Looking at the finished product, I found that, rather than dividing us as some suggested, Best of the 'Boat celebrates our community. I hope you will too.