Best of Springfield®

Best Of Springfield 2023Ⓡ

Every year, we ask our opinionated readers to tell us about their favorite people, places and things in the Springfield area. Over the decades we've been doing this, we've continued to tweak both the process and the results issue to try to keep things fresh and interesting. While one out of every three votes cast this year was in the food category and six of the top 10 categories with the most votes were food-related, none of the top three categories this year had to do with eating. Instead, our readers were cultured, casting 87,225 votes for best museum, with place to see a play or musical (indoors and outdoors) also making the top 10.

Wondering how all this works? Here are answers to the most common questions we hear:

Q. Are the results real? Don't you just pick your advertisers to win? A. The Best of Springfield results are based on what our readers chose as the best, which is not always the same as what our staff would prefer. Just ask the advertising department, there are many winners who have never spent a dime with us and others who frequently advertise but failed to win their category. While advertising helps remind people to vote for you, it certainly doesn't guarantee the outcome.

Q. Why did national companies or chain stores win some of the categories? If you're a locally owned business, shouldn't you support other locally owned businesses?

A. See previous answer. We encourage our readers to vote (and shop) local, but ultimately, we don't control the votes.

Q. Why wasn't ______ category included? A. There are already more than 200 categories, so from a logistical perspective we have to consider the attention span of both the voters and readers. However, we do add and subtract categories based on reader interest and current events. Tree trimming/removal and chicken strips were among the new categories this year, and readers were passionate enough about their favorite chicken strips that it ended up in the top 10 categories with the most votes.

Keep in mind that there needs to be at least four or five contenders in a category to make it competitive, so if you're asking for "Best battery store," "Best place to buy a musical instrument," or "Best auctioneer" (all actual requests we've had), we're taking that into consideration. If you think of a great category we've missed, email our associate publisher, James Bengfort, at [email protected].

Q. Why wasn't _______ one of the options when I voted? A. We hold an initial nomination round beginning in mid-August. The top five vote-getters in each category move on to the final voting. So if you want to lobby for a particular person or business to win, the time to start is in the nomination round.

Q. Why don't all of the winners have a write up this year? A. We used to publish a short blurb on each of the top picks. However, we do have many repeat winners, and it can be hard to find something different to say each year. Starting in 2019, we switched to a format with longer (but fewer) profiles. We now try to highlight new winners and categories to make it more interesting and informative for the reader.

We welcome comments on this, or anything else in our publication, which can be sent to [email protected]. – Michelle Ownbey, publisher

Categories with the most votes:
1. Museum
2. Place to see a play or musical outdoors
3. Massage
4. Best overall restaurant
5. Bakery
6. Burger
7. New restaurant
8. Horseshoe
9. Chicken strips
10. Place to see a play or musical indoors

Arts, Culture & Entertainment 13.3%
Cannabis 2.9%
Civic and Community 5.5%
Drink 8.1%
Food 31%
Goods & Services 11%
Health & wellness 5.1%
Home & garden 8.2%
Kids' stuff 3.9%
Music 4.9%
Retail 6.1%

See the Best of Springfield Results

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