etc 

Not to dismiss the clear and present danger of fire season, which is breathing its hot breath down our necks even as we type this, but we just don’t have much room for bad news this week. Or much news at all, for that matter. We do that 51 weeks a year. The other week—this week—we celebrate.

The issue you hold in your hands is the BOM, aka Best of Missoula, an annual indulgence in all the things that we—and you—like best about life in our bubble. It’s a sunny streak we’ve indulged for 13 straight years now, and we’re not going to let a little smoke ruin our mood.

You may notice that this year’s BOM is a little different. For one thing, we’ve moved the issue from February to July, mostly because we’re regularly depressed in February, and that makes celebrating difficult. For another, we introduced online balloting, and found that a lot of you like to vote that way. Thanks. Then we bumped the number of categories by more than half. We also added more than 20 staff picks to the mix so those of us who make it our business to know our way around could steer readers toward even more cool stuff.

The result of so much superlative-seeking is the paper you’re reading, which looks a bit different from the paper we put out most weeks. For one thing, the two news stories we generally run on pages 8 and 9, plus some arts coverage in the back of the book, got cut to make room for the largest Best of Missoula package the Indy has ever presented. At 13 pages and roughly 16,000 words, it may well be the longest thing the paper has ever published, period.

Don’t feel compelled to read it all at one sitting. This is one issue you can easily spread out over the course of a week. In fact we’re hoping you’ll keep it around all year and dip in when you’ve got a hankering for some of the best that Missoula has to offer.

Oh yeah, and we’re throwing a Best Of Missoula party. It starts at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 19, in Caras Park, in conjunction with Downtown ToNight. There’ll be a rockin’ band, food to eat and beer to drink. There’ll also be a dunking booth manned by your favorite Indy writers, and probably your least favorites, too. If you think we’re all wet, drop by, toss a few softballs, and make it so. Or just come say howdy. Everyone’s invited. Should be a good time. If we see enough of you there, it might even make next year’s BOM.
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