Fifteen years ago, the Independent staff wanted to break up the winter doldrums, drum up some advertising cash (they said as much in print) and recognize some hard-working businesses in the Missoula community. That inaugural Best of Missoula issue featured 90 categories—including Best Newsstand—and stretched across 28 pages. The ballots were mailed to the paper’s post office box and took more than two weeks to count. The staff celebrated in the office when they logged the final vote.
In some ways, not much has changed since 1995. This year, the Independent staff hopes to break up the dog days of summer, drum up some advertising cash (hey, we’re a newspaper) and recognize more than a few hard-working businesses and individuals in the Missoula community. But to accomplish that nowadays, we had to expand from the original game plan. Our 15th annual Best of Missoula issue features 160 categories—including Best Website—and stretches across 96 pages, making it the largest single issue in the paper’s history. The ballots were hand-written and dropped off at locations throughout town, or submitted online at www.missoulanews.com, and they took us nearly two weeks to verify and tally. We plan to celebrate with a huge bash at Caras Park on July 9, with music from Secret Powers and Tom Catmull and the Clerics, food, drinks and a mechanical surfboard.
Okay, so maybe a little has changed. But there’s one thing that’s exactly the same as it was in 1995: You picked the winners. It’s because of your passionate opinion on all things Missoula that this issue continues to thrive. So, thank you. And without further ado, let’s get on with passing out the hardware.