- File: Oliver Parini
- Staff from Burlington's Friendly Toast at the Alice in Wonderland-themed Daysies party in 2019
Every year we ask our readers to pick the Daysies — the best of everything under the sun in Vermont, from murals to mountaintops, barbershops to beer. Nearly 25,000 souls participate in the process, which consists of two rounds of public voting and, on our end, deciphering and tallying. Our writers report the results in a stand-alone annual publication called All the Best.
Generally, the people's choices are right-on. Their wisdom constitutes the consummate insiders' guide to Vermont. The Daysies are a celebration of local culture and enterprise — and demonstrate that both thrive here in ways that are truly remarkable. If the winning plaques on display all over the state don't make the point, the annual party at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain on Burlington's waterfront surely does. For small business owners, artists and journalists, the event is a highlight of the year.
Or it was — until 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic canceled the Daysies contest and every other festival and gathering in Vermont. Businesses had to lay off employees, and many local restaurants, shops and arts venues closed their doors — a few of them permanently. Our field of perennial Daysies, once hearty and abundant, simply didn't flower last year.
Things are looking up this spring, but, frankly, it still feels premature to be choosing favorites. Vermont's businesses need time — and our patronage — to reseed and grow.
So, instead of promoting a competition, Seven Days is compiling the Vermont Pandemic All-Stars to recognize the standout performances of some of the people and programs that helped us all endure the last 13 months.
Through May 2, we're asking Vermonters to identify people who went above and beyond to serve our state throughout the pandemic. Readers are weighing in on takeout, to-go cocktails, walking paths and local retailers — as well as notable community members who've displayed heart and courage. Since nominations opened on April 19, we've been flooded with stories of what one reader called "hometown heroes."
We've heard about grocery store workers ("always courteous and helpful — and brave"), elementary school teachers ("so deserving of any recognition") and security guards ("they worked their butts off!"). Hospice workers who are "witnessing so much pain and suffering ... and yet continuing to work with compassion and sensitivity." Task force members who translated health notices to "swiftly get critical information out to communities." Good Samaritans who "would mask up and go out for anything" for a neighbor in need. "Tech-savvy and remarkably kindhearted" high schoolers who helped register elders for their vaccines.
Want a say? Tell us who helped you on the ballot at sevendaysvt.com/all-stars. In the June 9 issue, we'll celebrate some of the individuals and entities that came through for team Vermont.