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. We're proud to host it as a way to recognize the places and people that make this region special.
The contest proceeds in three phases – a nomination phase, a first round of voting and a final round of voting.
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 plus ties 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.
- Winners announcement: We'll announce a winner and two finalists in each category.
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.
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, Highland and Pendleton, W.V. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the key dates for 2023?
- Nomination Period: Feb. 8-22, 2023
- First Round Voting: March 29-April 6, 2023
- Final Voting Round: May 10-18, 2023
- Winners announced: June 21, 2023
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.
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.
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: 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 nomination round closes. 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.
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.
Category Exceptions and Special Notes
You'll find a few new categories in the contest this year, such as Cleanest Public Restroom, and Best Pet Sitting, Walking, or Day Care Business.
If a category you're looking for from 2022 is not in this year's contest, it was removed due to low public engagement last year.
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 Family Entertainment, Museum/Historical Site and the Ski Resort categories, which are open to regional nominations. Note that in the Local Band category, entrants must perform in the region, but there is no residency requirement.
Automotive: Chains and national companies are eligible in all categories.
Body & Soul: Local businesses only.
Beer, Wine, Liquor: Local businesses only, except in the Best Bar/Happy Hour category, where chains and national brands are eligible.
Culture: All nominees must be located in the Daily News-Record coverage area. All categories are limited to local entities, as opposed to national brands or franchises, except in Best Nonprofit or Charity category. The Best Nonprofit or Charity category is intended for social service-oriented nonprofit businesses, not membership or professional organizations. The Best Photographer category is intended for professionals only.
Food & Drink: Locally owned and operated businesses only (no chains/franchises/national brands), except in these categories, where all companies operating in the region are eligible: Best Bakery, Best Donuts, Best Ice Cream, Best Pizza.
Home: Local businesses only, except in the Best Realty Company category.
Kids & Education: Local businesses only, except in the Best Kid's Party Venue and Best Tutoring Service categories. In the Best Colleges/Universities category, nominees from neighboring counties are allowed.
Medical Care: Local businesses only, except in the Assisted Living and Hospital categories, which is open to nearby facilities outside the core Central Valley region. Locally owned and operated businesses only (no chains/franchises/national brands), except in the Best Assisted Living, Best Hospital, Best Pharmacy and Best Urgent Care categories. In categories where we asked for practices, we try to exclude individual practitioners, unless they operate solo practices named after themselves.
Pets: National brands and chains are permitted only in the Best Pet store category.
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: Best Bank, Best Financial Services/Planning Company, Best Insurance Agency, Best Mortgage Company, and Best 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: Best Furniture Store, Best Grocery Store, and Best Hardware Store. Online retailers are eligible if they are locally owned and operated.
We reserve the right to change these guidelines. Check back here for current guidelines.
See the 2022 winners and finalists