Best of the Chippewa Valley 2012: Here’s to You, Readers

the sixth annual Best of the Chippewa Valley Readers’ Poll was the largest yet, with a record number of votes and voters

I don’t want to scare you, but I’m about to go all math on you. 117,103. I think most of us can agree that’s a pretty big number. Like a really big number. If you won that much money in the lottery, just think of how many cups of coffee you could buy. Think of how many tanks of gas that could buy. Think of how many pairs of shoes you could get. Then double that and that’s how many actual shoes you could get. However you look at it, that’s a huge number.

Well, that’s how many votes were cast in this year’s Best Of poll. That’s the number of opinions the 4,160 people who voted had. Those votes were spread out over 157 categories in eight sections. That means that each person had an average of 28 votes across the poll. Which means that your 28 votes – whether you were endorsing your favorite burger joint, your long-time hair stylist or your friend’s metal band, – your 28 votes contributed to the biggest poll we’ve ever done.

That’s the beauty of the “Best Of” polling: It’s really all about you. It’s all about your personal experiences in the Chippewa Valley and combining those to create a truly collective sample.

Every year we conduct this poll as a way to take a sample of this community’s opinions. It’s certainly not perfect, but that’s kind of the point. Just as useful as the top three rankings in the magazine are the weeks of discussion to come. This process isn’t meant to be definitive so go ahead and tell the readers where they messed up. Maybe you’ll turn some people on to a new business or perk to the Chippewa Valley they’d never seen before. And, if nothing else, you can let the world know why you were right and everyone else was wrong (because that’s always how it works, right?).

And that’s the beauty of the “Best Of” polling: It’s really all about you. It’s all about your personal experiences in the Chippewa Valley and combining those to create a truly collective sample. From the time we post it you can add your own options to any of the categories and – as you’ll see in many categories – a lot of times these are the ones that win. In fact this year we even chose a few categories where we didn’t suggest anything: The Best Restaurants in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie.

And even though sometimes the suggestions aren’t exactly what we were looking for (see: Best Spot For Fishing, for the last six years), that’s kind of the point. We want to know what’s on your minds because, heck, maybe you know something we don’t. In fact, most of you probably do.

So as you’re flipping through this massive issue, checking out the best restaurants and shops, the best artists and events, the best parks and biggest news, or if you’re online commenting about what should have been included or what shouldn’t have been in there, pat yourself on the back for doing a stellar job, even if your favorite didn’t win this time around. You gave your opinion, along with a heck of a lot of others – in fact more than ever before – and that’s pretty cool.

And, of course, you can always hope and vote for your favorites next year. 


 

Recognizing the Best of the “Best Of”

while most of the categories have represented all sorts of ebbs and flows, a small number of winners have stayed on top since the beginning

Every year we take a look back and try to find some interesting statitstics or trends in the last six years of the polls and this year we want to recognize the perennials. We’ve run this poll for six years now and there are a few categories that, well, just haven’t changed much. Throughout the years, these winners have transcended the changes to the community and the people (and the poll) to consistently come out on top. That’s pretty dang impressive.

Just take a look at Draganetti’s – who have maintained their Best Italian Food ranking since day one – or Mike Perry, whose been the Chippewa Valley’s favorite author six times in a row. The list (which you can see below) isn’t that long, making this a pretty prestigious position to be in. I mean, just think of how different this town was six years ago? Think of where you went out to eat or where you went to hang out or what your priorities were. Things can change a lot in six years, but these bests have hung on.

And now – after six years of the poll – we’re in for the long haul. Every year new challengers will pop up and try to dethrone the best of the best. But its hard to see anyone other than our public schools winning out for the Best Use of Taxpayer Money category.

It just takes one year to knock you out of this bracket, too. There’s quite a jump between these business and ones that have won 5/6 or 4/5 times – still impressive, but Hall of Fame worthy? That’s debatable. So it has to be a constant grind to stay on the top. You think Famous Dave’s has ever lost focus? Or that The Joynt has ever loosened up their intense desire to win? Well, maybe. But it can’t be easy maintaining this level of greatness.

So that’s why we want to both recognize these original winners and look to the future. Who’s next in line? Which new business or artist is going to lock themselves in for the next six years? Will they have to dethrone someone on the way? Possibly, but looking at this list, they have their work cut out for them.