2012 Guide to Readers' Picks

Something smelled fishy about this year’s Daysies results. After counting the nearly 7000 ballots, we noticed some strange new winners. Don’t get us wrong — there’s nothing we love more than doling out new Daysies, but these were suspicious. We’d never heard of Liquid: Hair for Men in Burlington, which had ostensibly snagged the Daysie for best hair salon. And we love Shelburne’s Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery but were shocked to find that it had raked in more votes than Burlington’s BCA Center, the perennial winner of best art gallery.

Still on high alert from a ballot-stuffing incident during our Best of the Beasts Pet Photo Contest last spring, our intrepid deputy online editor Tyler Machado combed over the Daysies results. Sure enough, he uncovered 435 identical ballots — a sure sign of a cheater.

So we did a recount.

Many longtime winners reclaimed their positions at the top, including Indigo, the BCA Center, Cheese Traders & Wine Sellers, the Edge, Oakledge Park, Sweet Lady Jane and Ecco Clothes for Women & Men. Congrats to those reliable favorites.

But we are excited to honor a whole new crop of Daysie winners this year. In a Burlington-centric contest, we’re always thrilled to recognize winners outside Chittenden County — we didn’t in every category, just where the number of votes was significant. This year, Waterbury’s Green Mountain Camera and Barre’s Bob’s Camera & Video came in second and third, respectively, handily knocking down South Burlington’s PhotoGardenLeZot Camera Center on Church Street held onto the gold inside Chittenden County.

Parents go bonkers for the Pump House Indoor Waterpark at Jay Peak, which took home a new Daysie for best day trip with the kids. And Girlington Garage blew away the competition in another new category, best place for car repairs. When it comes to free Wi-Fi hot spots, nothing compares to Starbucks, where web surfers can nurse a single cup of coffee for hours without guilt. But locals do love their homegrown establishments, such as Crow Bookshop, which once again narrowly edged out Barnes & Noble.

Comedian Nathan Hartswick stood up against reigning champs Rusty DeWees and Josie Levitt.

Many voters seemed really sad about the concept of drinking alone. When asked about the best place to do it, one person wrote, “In my kitchen with the lights off.” Another responded somewhat nonsensically (but we got the idea), “A bottle full of my tears.” Most agreed that home is the best place for solo drinking, but the rest threw their votes in for Burlington dive the Other Place.

After reading voters’ responses to the hippest-hipster category, we felt kind of bad awarding it to anyone. We thought the category was funny — and complex, because, as a few voters noted, nobody self-identifies as a hipster. We were amazed, though, at your collective disdain for all things hipsteriffic.

So here’s hoping that Ben Sarle, photographer and editor of Thread Magazine, will carry the title with dignity and good humor. Sarle beat out Charles “Chicky” Winkleman — whose Facebook address, for the record, is hipsterjew — despite pleas to his Facebook friends not to vote for him. Talk about reverse psychology. Other hipster contenders included dug Nap, whom several voters referred as “the original hipster,” and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The senator also made an appearance in another new category, best hair on a local personality. But that Daysie ultimately went to the über-deserving wild mane of Point DJ Mike Luoma. We’re proud to say that a few of our own — including redheads co-editor Pamela Polston and music editor Dan Bolles — pulled in votes for best hair.

Finally, to that odious ballot stuffer: We wish we knew who you are. If we did, you better believe we’d be awarding you the first-ever Stinky Daysie of Shame. Cheating is lame, folks. Here’s to the winners, new and old, who came by their Daysies fair and square.