Celebrating the Rogue Valley's Best
After more than 12,000 nominations and a record-setting number of votes cast, a crowd in the hundreds celebrated their selection as the Rogue Valley’s favorites in downtown Medford.
Honoring victories in 102 categories that highlighted the region’s favorite people and places for everything from where to grab a cup of coffee to where to repair a car, about 300 Rogue Valley public servants, community leaders and employees of some of the region’s favorite businesses celebrated their first-place awards Saturday evening at Inn at the Commons in Medford for Southern Oregon’s Best of the Best 2019 gala, hosted by Rosebud Media.
Included in the Sunday Mail Tribune print edition is a Special Section with the full rundown of winners, including runners-up, honorable mentions and profiles on each winner — but the awards go beyond readers of Sunday’s paper according to Associate Publisher Gail Whiting, who heads Rosebud’s circulation and advertising departments.
Whiting said the 50-page Best of the Best booklet gets distributed to visitor centers and chambers of commerce across the Rogue Valley, and is distributed year-round.
“When people come into the town they know where the locals go,” Whiting said.
Determining the winner were 138,000 votes, which Whiting called a certain record in the four-year history of Best of the Best, and possibly for the award’s predecessor starting in 2001, Mail Tribune Reader’s Choice.
“It grows every year,” Whiting said.
Whether it was a business celebrating a repeat win, or a newcomer in the field, banquet attendees beamed at being part of a favorite.
“We love being voted by our community year after year,” Gervais Day Spa massage therapist Jan O’Neal said, adding that she believes the close-knit “work family” and way the salon and spa treats its guests made it the winner for favorite place to get a massage.
Superior Athletic General Manager Pennie Pons said she believed they won for a seventh year in a row because of “new equipment, new toys and great staff.”
“We stay on the cutting edge of what’s new,” Pons said.
Amanda Ayriss, Dutch Bros. Coffee’s Jackson County General Manager, said “it’s just flattering” to be voted the community’s favorite.
“We try to uphold that standard for our community, Ayriss said.
Among the Best of the Best first-timers was Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler, who won over Central Point police officer J.R. Godley and Medford police Lt. Trevor Arnold.
Archives show Sickler’s Best of the Best win is the first time a sheriff was voted a favorite, which surprised Sickler because sheriff is an elected position.
Sickler said the honor belongs to his employees.
“To be successful, you gotta have good staff,” Sickler said.
He also reflected on the family support that helped him through the tough parts of his career. For instance, Sickler said his wife, DeAnna, did the bulk of the campaign legwork during his election last fall.
“We did it ourselves because we wanted a grassroots campaign,” Sickler said.