Seth Smith, Molly Vigallon and William Lloyd of Nite Owl Tattoo accept an award for Best Tattoo Shop. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Annual awards banquet draws crowd of the ‘Best’

Annual awards banquet draws crowd of the ‘Best’

Business and community leaders from across Whidbey gathered Thursday to recognize the best the island has to offer.

The Whidbey News Group’s annual Best of Whidbey Readers’ Choice Awards were announced during a sold-out banquet held at the Whidbey Golf and Country Club. More than 150 people were on hand for this year’s event. Theme for this year’s dinner was “Carnivale.”

“It’s always exciting and fun to recognize the best that Whidbey Island has to offer,” said Whidbey News Group Publisher Keven Graves. “The attendees always have a great time, and the mood is always celebratory.”

Awards emcee this year was George Henny, Whidbey Telecom CEO.

“Every year there are a few surprises, and this year was no exception,” Graves said.

“The results are entirely reader-driven,” Graves said. This year, nearly 73,000 individual votes were cast by nearly 3,000 registered voters.

“That’s bigger than some political elections,” Graves said jokingly.

Among those honored Thursday were Robert Zylstra, who received the Publisher’s Award for Lifetime Achievement for his longstanding commitment to the community and role in the founding of Whidbey General Hospital, now WhidbeyHealth.

Oak Harbor schools Superintendent Lance Gibbon was named Best Community Leader and Oak Harbor chef Scott Fraser won Best Community Volunteer. Les Schwab received the award for Best Customer Service.

Whidbey Coffee’s Dan Ollis won awards for Best Coffee/Espresso, Business Person of the Year for the second year in a row and Business of the Year, one of the Best of Whidbey’s most competitive categories.

For a full list of winners, check out the Best of Whidbey section inside today’s edition, or online at www.whidbeynewstimes.com