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About the Best of the Valley

In the Daily News-Record's Best of the Valley contest, readers have the last word.

For years, Shenandoah Valley residents have looked forward to voting in the Best of the Valley contest to support their favorite local businesses, organizations, people and attractions. It's the biggest contest of its kind in the region, and we're proud to host it as a way to recognize the places and people that make this region special.

In 2021, the contest is more important than ever, with so many restaurants, businesses and organizations challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are stepping up to the challenge by making the contest bigger and better than ever, to provide even more visibility to Shenandoah Valley businesses and organizations. Some of the changes we’re making this year include:

  • More local. The Best of the Valley contest has always been about celebrating and honoring local businesses and organizations. This year, we are building that into the rules, limiting many categories to locally owned and operated business and organizations. See DNRonline.com/best for the rules.
  • Online balloting. We’re moving entirely to online balloting, which makes it easier for more people to vote.
  • Daily voting. With online balloting, you can vote once per category per day, so you can really show your support for your favorites.
  • A new round of voting. When a category has a big field of nominees, it’s possible to “win” with only a very small percent of total votes. So, just like in an election where there is a primary, we are adding a first round of voting for readers to narrow nominees down to the top five. From that shorter list, readers will pick a winner and two finalists in a second round.
  • More transparency. We know the Best of the Valley contest is important to the local businesses and organizations who compete. So, we are making steps this year to increase transparency in our rules and decisions about which nominees are eligible for which categories. Just go to DNRonline.com/best for contest rules.

Nominations and voting

  • Nomination round: The contest starts with a nomination round, where readers can propose business, organizations and names for all of the categories, including new categories This keeps the contest fresh, as new businesses and organizations come to the county and as existing ones change and grow.
  • First voting round: In the first voting round, readers vote to winnow the big list of nominated businesses, organizations and attractions down to just the Top Five in each category.
  • Final voting round: The excitement builds with voting on the Top Five businesses, organizations and attractions in each category! This is the final voting round, and from this will be crowned the Best of the Valley.

Fair voting rules

  • Nominees/entrants are prohibited from soliciting votes by offering payments or exchange of value of any kind.
  • Voting is limited to one vote in each category per person per day.
  • Even though we require sign-ups, we recognize that some people, in their enthusiasm, may be tempted to vote several times using different email accounts. Please note that voting under multiple email accounts violates the rules.

We do have systems in place to detect fraudulent voting. When we see evidence of fraudulent voting, we may eliminate all suspect votes at our discretion. In extreme cases, we will remove entrants, as well.

Nomination guidelines

Our Best of the Valley team does its best to vet all nominees. Here are the guidelines we use, with exceptions as noted below:

  • Unless the category is labeled "Regional," or there is an exception noted below, the nominee must operate in the Daily News-Record coverage area, which includes Rockingham County. The BOV also includes parts of Page, Shenandoah, Augusta and Pendleton WV. counties.
  • If the category is labeled “Regional,” the category is open to nominees from nearby areas. See below for specific limitations, because regional eligibility sometimes varies by category.
  • In some categories that are not labeled "Regional," businesses that are on the border may be deemed eligible at our discretion.
  • Most categories are restricted to local businesses and organizations, in the sense of being locally owned and operated, not national brands, chains or franchises. Some categories, noted below, are open to national or regional businesses and brands. Small regional groups, at our discretion, may be considered local businesses in any category.
  • We reserve the right to disqualify a business or organization from a category that does not represent a significant focus of its activities.
  • Nominees must, in most categories, be open to the general public. (That is, no restrictive membership organizations.) Exceptions include golf courses.
  • Nominations for individual categories, like Best Real Estate Agent, must include the nominee's full name and place of business.

Application of our criteria is not an exact science. The Best of the Valley team uses its best judgment; if you think we’ve made an error, please email BOV@DNRonline.com.

Category exceptions and special notes

Culture: All nominees must be located in the Daily News-Record coverage area. The Photographer category is intended for professionals only. All categories are limited to local entities, as opposed to national brands or franchises, except in the Best Radio Station and Best Nonprofit or Charity categories. The Nonprofit or Charity category is intended for social service-oriented nonprofit businesses, not membership or professional organizations.

Activities: Categories are limited to local people, business and organizations, as opposed to national brands or franchises. Nominees must be based in the region, except in the Best Museum/Historical Site and the Best Ski Resort categories, which are open to regional nominations. Note that in the Best Local Band category, entrants must perform in the region, but there is no residency requirement.

Eats: Locally owned and operated businesses only (no chains/franchises/national brands), except in these categories, where all companies operating in the region are eligible: Burgers, Cheap Night Out, Donuts, French Fries, Pizza, Wings.

Medical Care: Local businesses only, except in the Best Hospital category, which is open to nearby hospitals outside the core Central Valley region. Locally owned and operated businesses only (no chains/franchises/national brands), except in the Assisted Living, Hospital, Nursing Home, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Rehab Center and Urgent Care categories. In categories where we asked for practices, we try to exclude individual practitioners, unless they operate solo practices named after themselves.

Miscellaneous: All nominees must be based in the region, except in the Colleges/Universities category, where nominees from neighboring counties are allowed.

Services: Locally owned and operated businesses only (no chains/franchises/national brands), except in these following categories, where all entrants operating in the county are eligible: Auto Dealer, Auto Repair Shop, Bank, Child Care Facility, Driving School, Financial Services/Planning, Funeral Home, Insurance Agency, Mortgage Company, Motorcycle Dealer, Realty Company, Retirement Community, Self Storage.

The Insurance Agency category is open to locally based offices or teams of agents or brokers selling insurance directly to buyers. The category is not intended for individual agents, unless they are sole proprietors of an agency or brokerage, in which case that agency or brokerage may be nominated under their name.

Shopping: Locally owned and operated businesses only (no chains/franchises/national brands), except in the following categories, where all companies operating in the county are eligible: Bridal Shop, Fabric Shop, Farm Equipment/Tractor Dealer, Farm Supply Store, Flooring Store, Furniture Store, Grocery Store, Hardware Store, Health Food Store, Pet Store, Sporting Goods, Tire Dealer, Tuxedo Shop.

We reserve the right to change these guidelines. Check back on this for current guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the key dates for 2021?

  • Nomination Period: Early March
  • First Round Voting: Early May
  • Final Voting Round: Late June/early July
  • Winners announced: Early August

Q: I nominated my business, but I don’t see it showing up on the website in the list of nominees. Why is that?

If you’re looking at the site during the nomination period and don’t see a business you nominated, fear not! All valid entries are considered and reviewed. But in order for a nomination to show up on the site, we have to approve it manually. Because we receive thousands of nominations, we can get backlogged.

The good news is your business only has to be nominated once to make it to the first round of voting, assuming it met the guidelines. And if it did meet the guidelines, it does not matter if it showed up on the site during the nomination period.

Q: My business was nominated, and I saw it on the website during the nomination period, but it is not showing up in the voting round. Why?

See the guidelines below. After nominations close and before voting opens, our team does its best to vet all nominees. While your business may have appeared during the nomination period, our team may have determined it was ineligible for the voting round.

Q: I missed the nominations period. Can I/my business still be entered in the contest?

Late nominations may be accepted if received promptly after the first voting round opens. They will be reviewed as soon as is practical, and if they meet the criteria for their proposed category, they will be included in the first voting round typically within several days.

Q: I think my business should have made it to the first voting round. How do I register a complaint?

Email us at BOV@dnronline.com within 24 hours after the first voting period opens. You must identify the category and tell us why you think your business should have been included.

Like most humans, we sometimes make mistakes, and if we have, we’ll add your business within moments of our decision.

Q: What guidelines are used to determine whether a nominated business qualifies for the first voting round?

Please see the sections below on "Nomination Guidelines" and "Category Exceptions and Special Notes."

Q: How are the winners selected?

Winners are those that received the most votes in their category. Finalists are those that received the second- and third-most votes in their category.

If there is a tie, we will announce both winners and/or finalists.

Q: Why does this contest allow people to nominate/vote every day?

The Best of the Valley contest allows daily voting and nominations -- once per person per day per category -- because daily voting rewards entrants with passionate supporters. With a single vote per person, entrants with the best name recognition have a distinct advantage, as many voters skim over categories and cast their votes casually. Name recognition is an important part of finding the best of the Valley, but we also want to reward the passionate loyalty some people have for their local favorites, which can be captured in daily voting.

Also: This contest is fundamentally about celebrating and supporting great Shenandoah Valley institutions by raising their profile and helping them gain new fans. With daily voting, the contest raises the visibility of those businesses and organizations that use it to reach out to new and existing customers to ask for their support, through advertising and through their own channels.

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