This year, 22,000 people cast 490,000 final-round votes for everything from their favorite local bands, baristas and barbers to their favorite accountants, acupuncturists and martial arts studios. While impressive, those numbers are down slightly from pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that, for some, the Daysies may seem like the stuff of legend. But trust us: They’re real. Like our own fabled sea monster, Champ, you just have to see it to believe it.
Of course, Vermont is a very different place than it was in 2019, the last year the Daysies happened. The pandemic took a heavy toll on local businesses, including some perennial Daysies winners. Industries that rely on people gathering in indoor spaces — such as entertainment, food service and health — were the hardest hit.
Not every business struggled in the pandemic. For example, Vermonters took to the outdoors in droves for recreation. As a result, outdoor gear shops and outfitters have seen record sales in the past two years.
Unseating longtime incumbent Daysies winners is like slaying a dragon: It’s really hard to do. Nevertheless, you’ll notice a remarkable number of new names in familiar categories this year, an indication of just how much the restaurant and retail landscape has shifted since March 2020. It’s also a testament to the fact that Vermont is full of magical people and places — and maybe lake monsters and minotaurs.