NEWINGTON - There are just a few more days to drop coins in the buckets of your favorite local businesses.
The 2018 Best of Newington Awards wrap up April 30, after which ballots will no longer be accepted.
The top three vote-earners in each category will be announced during the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Newington Chamber of Commerce, which runs the competition. The event is scheduled for Friday, June 1 at Indian Hill Country Club. Tickets will go on sale in May.
“It’s always an exciting night,” Chamber Executive Director Gail Whitney said.
Before winners are announced, the chamber inducts new members and presents its own awards to special community members. Attendees are also invited to fill out a game card indicating which of the top three finalists they think won. The individual with the most correct guesses wins a $100 Visa gift card. Guests are encouraged to dress fittingly to the evening’s Hawaiian theme.
The Best of Newington Awards came about five years ago. Since Newington encompasses a long stretch of the Berlin Turnpike, the town is home to a lot of big-box stores. While there have been some chains that have won “Best of” awards, the competition really distinguishes the smaller mom-and-pop type businesses.
“We wanted to showcase the small businesses because sometimes we get overlooked,” said Chairwoman Deanna Reney, who owns Karma’s Closet Consignment Boutique.
A total of 44 categories are listed and people must make at least 10 votes for their ballot to count. Anyone who has not voted yet is encouraged to fill out a ballot online at newingtonchamber.com, to be certain their submission is counted before Monday’s deadline.
Over the last few years people have made suggestions for new categories, but the chamber board tries to keep the list fairly succinct. For example, categories like “Best Pizza” and “Best Grinder/Sandwich” will not be expanded upon to honor different varieties of each food type.
“It’s a challenge,” Reney explained. “People have been suggesting categories or saying we don’t have enough but we do an awards presentation for this, so we don’t want guests sitting there all night. We want enough categories that we have a good time but not so many that it dilutes the winners.”
The competition - although friendly - can often get heated between local rivals.
“The insurance agency category has been really competitive for a while,” Reney pointed out. “But it’s all in good fun. Those guys know each other. They work together; they give each other referrals.”
Sometimes a runner-up is within just a few votes of the favorite. In other instances, a clear victor emerges.
In addition to being a boon for business, the Best of Newington can be a valuable resource for newcomers to town.
“It’s kind of like a guide,” Reney said. “It’s an easy way to see what people like and what residents’ favorite places are.”
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.