Special Section

Best of the Chippewa Valley Winners for 2008

Annual Best of the Valley Reader Poll racks up 215,000 individual “yays” and “boos”

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson |

It's been about a month since our “Best Of The Chippewa Valley” poll closed, and I don’t know about you, but I’m still a little bit riled up. Whew, that was wild. If my tabulations are correct, more than 215,000 votes* came our way, so I’m guessing you probably heard about it and are currently paging through the results with sweaty, anticipatory hands.

This year’s poll was a bit different than last year, when we asked you folks to fill in the blanks on a paper ballot or through our website. This one, powered by YayBoo.com, was a far more interactive format, allowing voters to add nominees as they pleased and give each one a plus-one (“Yay”) or minus-one (“Boo”) every single day for about a month.

Just like last year, we’re excited to see what the Chippewa Valley likes. But we’re even more excited about this issue of Volume One serving as a kind of doorway to countless places, people, and ideas you may have never heard of before – this is your chance to try something new. Voting anything as “the best” is always a tricky business, but the main objective of this reader poll is to give you, the people of the Chippewa Valley, a chance to reward your favorite places and concepts with a little well-deserved praise. 

Now, the vast majority of the voting in this year’s poll simply consisted of people clicking “Yay” for the items they liked the best. But loud and proud, a little bit of controversy inevitably emerged.

    All of us over at Volume One’s Headquarters watched the poll activity fairly closely. since it also marked the birth of our snazzy new website (if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably aren’t as cool as you once thought). Voting took off the very minute we launched the poll, and within the first day businesses were already stockpiling “yays” and vying for first.

Others inevitably joined in of course, promptly notifying their networks of fans through Facebook, MySpace, or good ole’ face-to-face. Small battles began between rival restaurants, tattoo parlors, and media outlets that eventually became all-out wars. These voting wars came complete with trash talking, often involving accusations of cheating and at least one accusation of meth usage. Most of your comments, however, were directed at the poll itself.

  •    • “This booing stuff is a joke.”
  •    • “This whole poll needs to be deleted and redone by someone who knows what they are doing.”
  •     • “These polls are fixed.”
  •     • “Every time a paper has a poll it is set up by paper boys at a desk. This yay-boo tab is stupid.”
  •     • “Why allow boos? This is a positive porthole to enable the flow of music, not hate.”
  •     • “Being able to boo a business is a bad idea. I thought this was supposed to celebrate the best.”
  •     • “I’m sure no one thought how negative the whole boo voting would be.”
  •     • “Where can I cast my vote for worst poll format?”

You may have thought your diatribes went unnoticed, but in fact your clamoring prompted us to change the way we tabulated the results. The winners you see on the following pages received the most “yay” votes, thus defeating efforts to extinguish their popularity by repeatedly “booing” them.

Because of the influx in activity and answers, we also decided to add a special “bonus pick” of sorts. These picks give special attention to particularly funny nominees (Really?), young people/places that will be future contenders (Up-and-Comers), or the best selections outside of Eau Claire (Chippewa Choice or Menomonie Pick).

And since you voters were so enthusiastic about the poll, and it provided a much-needed forum for you folks to let loose about the current state of affairs in a variety of topics, we’ve also decided to take some of your comments and print them near the categories they reference. But we hope your comments won’t stop there, as we’re looking forward to hearing some more of your thoughts about the poll results, our decision not to count “boos,” and the people/places that voters overlooked. Just visit our website (www.VolumeOne.org) and, well, you already know what to do.

* voters were allowed to cast a positive or negative vote for each nominee in a category every 24 hours and 113,000 were “yays” compared to 102,000 “boos.”