By Dan Bolles
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.
Did you attend the Daysies party at ECHO?
If you posed for pic in our magical photo booth, the images are now on the Seven Days Facebook page.
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