It’s time to pick the Best of Whidbey 2018

What’s your favorite place to grab a beer? How about a burger?

What community event do you enjoy most?

Who best embodies the spirit of volunteerism on Whidbey Island?

Whidbey News-Times readers will once again answer these burning questions, and many more.

Online voting for Best of Whidbey 2018 is underway during the month of July on www.whidbeynewstimes.com, the newspaper’s website. Paper ballots will also appear in select print editions of the News-Times and our sister newspaper, The South Whidbey Record.

This year, the voting for the annual contest is in a more user-friendly format. The voting has been streamlined by focusing on the categories the readers’ respond to the most.

Key awards, such as Business of the Year and Businessperson of the Year, are still by nomination only.

An award event is planned for September. A limited number of tickets will be available and only sold in advance.

The contest is a popular way for people to show their appreciation and support for great businesses, great services and great people across Whidbey Island. “Best of Whidbey” plaques can be seen at successful businesses all around the island.

Last year, nearly 3,000 readers cast more than 73,000 votes online. That’s some serious interest.

Winners earn bragging rights for the following year. The Whidbey News-Times presents certificates to the winners, plaques in key categories and the option of purchasing affordable banners to display outside their businesses. You see those banners proudly displayed all across the island.

Some of the things to look forward to this year are a new, sleeker look to the online ballot, streamlined categories — ones that didn’t generate a lot of interest, or votes, from readers have gone to the wayside — and more category sponsors, advertisers who make the contest possible.

And, as always, remember, the Best of Whidbey is about having fun and recognizing businesses and people who stand out in the community. It’s not a scientific poll. Some candidates run pretty aggressive campaigns to reach the top, and that isn’t against the rules. However, incidences of ballot stuffing are recognizable and may result in disqualification.

If you registered to vote last year, you already know it’s free to vote. If you remember your password, you won’t have to register again. Up until the voting closes, you can login and revise your votes or vote in categories you previously skipped.

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