Back before there were iPhones, before anyone used the verb “Googled,” before the country of Montenegro officially existed, before anyone worked as an “SEO Specialist” or wrote on a blog, before DVDs had been invented, before Harry Potter was first published or Justin Bieber learned his first word, the Missoula Independent asked its readers to take a couple minutes of their day and tell us what they loved about our town. Back in February 1995, the Best of Missoula issue included nods to Rockin Rudy’s, Bernice’s Bakery and Jill Valley, as well as the Best Newsstand, Best Jukebox and Best Video Rental Store.
Twenty years later we’re still doing it. Many things have changed (online voting!) and the issue has definitely gotten bigger (this week marks the paper’s largest page-count ever), but the spirit of our Best of Missoula readers’ poll remains the same. The winners are decided entirely by your votes, and even the categories are tweaked every year based on your suggestions. (Check out 2014’s new arrivals, like Best Museum, Best Brunch and Best Late-Night Munchies.)
We can’t begin to imagine what Best of Missoula will look like in another 20 years. Change is inevitable. But we’re willing to bet the issue continues to hold true to the same community spirit that’s fueled it for two decades. Thank you for making this an annual celebration of what’s Best of Missoula.
Speaking of celebration, let’s toast 20 years and this year’s winners together. Join us at the Best of Missoula Party at Caras Park Thursday, July 10, at 5 p.m. for live music from The Cold Hard Cash Show and Locksaw Cartel and a DJ set from Aaron Traylor. There will also be food, drinks and special attractions for the whole family. Like the Indy every week, it’s free.