The heart and soul of Stowe, Waterbury, Morrisville and beyond. From local entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations to those who take care of our bodies, our pets and our homes, here's who and what readers chose as true representations of our vibrant communities.

Best spa

1. Topnotch Spa

2. Stoweflake Spa

3. Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge

Nominees: Saucha.

Topnotch Spa. The original.

Best salon

1. Salon Salon

2. Artistic Roots & Lush Salon

3. Sara’s Salon, Salon Ruelle, and Salon 4 Men

Nominees: Stowe Barber Shop, Moira’s Hairstyling, Salon at Stowe Mountain Lodge, Styles Hair Salon, Sunflower Salon, Ooh La La, Garfield’s, Shear Image, BGB Salon, Romano Cuts, Chila’s Coiffures.

The tag line at Salon Salon is “It starts with you…” Clearly, the place is true to its word. And YOU voted. Please take note of the very strange results in this category. The second place finishers tied, while the next three made a valiant effort to cut in the shampoo bowl line — missing second by just one vote! That’s a close one, as the pundits say. One where surely both Mrs. Clinton and The Donald — coif connoisseurs — would call for a revote.

Best jewelry store

1. Stowe Gems

2. Von Bargen’s Jewelry

3. Stowe Craft Gallery

Nominees: Ferro Jewelers.

A cut above. Stowe Gems makes it two in a row, with the next three challengers in close pursuit.

Best art gallery

1. Helen Day Art Center

2. West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park

3. Stowe Craft Design & Gallery

Nominees: Axel’s Frame Shop & Gallery, Robert Paul Galleries, River Arts, Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery, Bryan Memorial Gallery, Inside Out Gallery, Visions of Vermont, Galleria Fine Arts.

The Stowe area is a mecca for art lovers. Art galleries abound, restaurants and shops showcase local artists, and lodges and inns fill their walls and rooms with original works. In summer, sculptures dot the outdoor landscape, thanks to the Helen Day, our winner and Stowe’s amazing nonprofit art center. (Psstt … it was a close race at the top of this ticket.)

Best clothing store

1. Green Envy

2. Boutique at Stowe Mercantile

3. Forget Me Not Shop

Nominees: Shaw’s General Store, Well Heeled, In Company, Johnson Woolen Mills, Ruelle Boutique, Miller’s Country Outfitters, Caplan’s Shoe and Apparel, Decisions, Stowe Street Emporium.

Mary Lou Baraw stays on the cutting edge of women’s fashions, accessories, trends. But Mary Lou, who must have been a top contender in the Stowe Area Association’s recent Businessperson of the Year award, doesn’t rest on her laurels. In addition to Envy, she also runs Yellow Turtle and Bumblebell, the area’s two clothing stores for kids, and helped to get the Mountain Road Marketplace off the ground. Take a break Mary Lou; enjoy those new Völkls. The best part of this category: she’s just one of a very impressive group of women who run successful stores in these parts — Trudy, Barbara, Lisa, Katie, Devon, Stacey … the list goes on.

Best gift store

1. Stowe Mercantile

2. Stowe Kitchen Bath & Linens

3. Stowe Craft Gallery

Nominees: Stowe Street Emporium, Haymaker Card & Gift, Stash N’ Stowe, Cabot Annex shops, Tiny Acorn, Once Upon a Time Toys, Inside Out Gallery, Shops at Spruce Peak.

Penny candies, birdhouses, tchotchkes, T-shirts, jams, jellies and maple syrup. You name it, Stowe Mercantile probably has it. Clearly that’s why it’s our readers favorite stop for gifts. It’s just fun to poke around.

Best resale shop

1. Creative Consignments

2. ReSource

3. Second Chance

Nominees: Pret-A-Porter, Bargain Boutique.

Bought. Sold. Consigned. Bought again. From Waterbury to Hyde Park, with this lineup you could get a whole “new” wardrobe.

Best florist

1. Uncle George’s Flowers

2. Wildflower Designs

3. Peck’s Florist

Nominees: Proud Flower, From Maria’s Garden.

Best night out venue

1. Rusty Nail

2. The Matterhorn

3. Doc Ponds

Nominees: Stowe Bowl, The Bench, Moog’s Place, Rimrocks, Cork Wine Bar, Sushi Yoshi, Blackback Pub, The Reservoir, Sunset Grille, 10 Railroad Street, The Backyard.

The Nail nailed it. Outside of Burlington, where else you gonna go to hear live music in a big venue? Vermont-style, that is. Nectar’s Presents manages the talent so you know it’ll be topnotch. This online review sums it up: “The feeling of a roadhouse and plenty of space to get down.” Yee-haw!

Best veterinarian

1. Stowe Veterinary Clinic

2. Sequist Animal Hospital

3. Waterbury Veterinary Hospital

Nominees: Lamoille Valley Veterinary Services.

Best Realtors

1. Pall Spera Company

2. Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate

3. Little River Realty

Nominees: Stowe Red Barn Realty, Susan Martin & Co., New England Landmark Realty, LaBier Realty, Century 21 Jack Associates, Mountain Associates, Beckwith Real Estate, Spruce Peak Realty, Four Seasons Sotheby’s, Barbour Real Estate Inc., William Raveis Stowe Realty, Beeman Real Estate.

Pardon us while we point out that the Stowe/Morrisville/Waterbury area has one of the most professional groups of Realtors and real estate agents anywhere. Congratulations to the crew at Spera.

Best builder

1. Patterson & Smith

2. Northern New England Homes

3. Stone Brothers

Nominees: Sisler Builders, Gordon Dixon Construction, Steel Construction, Gristmill Builders, Gyllenborg Construction, MTB Builders, Baseline Builders, Bob Houle, Trillium Builders, Donald P. Blake Jr., Inc.

Patterson is Cleve Patterson. Smith is Shapleigh Smith. They’ve been building damn fine homes and businesses for their friends and neighbors for over 25 years. They have the blueprints to prove it.

Best architect/architectural designer

1. Milford Cushman

2. Andrew Volansky

3. Sam Scofield

Nominees: Greg Paus, Bud Wilson, Brian Hamor, Malcolm Appleton, Paul Rousselle, Harry Hunt, Ernie Ruskey.

Ms. Stowe

1. Diane McCarthy

2. Leslie Anderson

3. Ani Petrolito

Nominees: Meghan Lang, Mary Windler, Jasmine Bigelow, Peggy Smith, Sue Archdeacon, Deb Martin, Toni Barr, Susan Rous-selle, Cristina Mink, Kristen Mooney.

Diane owns McCarthy’s Restaurant, and after all of these years, still runs it. Diane. Is. McCarthy’s. In business, a testament to one’s character is how long people work for you, through good times and lean times. Then add in the good works, kind words, and helping hands Diane has provided to countless individuals and good causes over the years. Voila!

Mr. Stowe

1. Rusty Dewees

2. Paul “Archie” Archdeacon

3. Willie Noyes

Nominees: Steve Sulin, Ed Rovetto, Bobby Roberts, Esbert Cardenas Jr., Jack Pickett, Tad Davis, Graham Mink, Rich Haab, Christopher Vigneau, Mike Carey, Jimmy Goldsmith, Harrison Barr, Nate Freund, Craig Mooney, Jim Hurlburt.

We’re not going to quibble with voters, but Rusty now lives in Elmore! Rusty is truly synonymous with Stowe. He grew up here, banged on his drums, acted in plays, worked construction, delivered newspapers — get the picture? Now he’s Stowe’s resident jester, poking fun at himself, his neighbors and Vermont in one-man shows featuring his popular character The Logger. Plus all that other really cool stuff he does.

Ms. Waterbury

1. Sue Minter

2. Christina Warnstedt

3. Susan Fishman

Nominees: Liz Schlegel, Theresa Wood, Lynn Mason, MK Monley, Monica Callan.

Sue Minter is running for governor. Looks like folks are really liking that.

Mr. Waterbury

1. Peter Miller

2. Mark Frier

3. Bill Minter

Nominees: Tom Stevens, John Walsh, Jack Carter, Chad Ummel, Jay Perron, Dave Juenker, Chad Rich, Chuck Hughson.

Ms. Lamoille

1. Maggie Cleary

2. Theresa Snow

3. Dawn Archbold

Nominees: Kim Kaufman, Marisa Menendez, Deb Papineau, Max Neale, Tricia Follert, Kathy Demars.

If being Ms. Lamoille means being cooperative, it makes sense that voters favored Maggie Cleary. She’s basically Ms. Cooperative.

Cleary was the first employee the board for the nascent Morrisville Cooperative hired, as a part-timer. She transitioned back to volunteer status a year ago when the cooperative hired a full-time employee, and MoCo’s not the only place she gives her time. She plants trees at Oxbow Park in Morrisville and helps out with the United Way firewood project.

She lives with her family in a house she and her husband built in Morristown. She waitresses at Doc Ponds in Stowe, does a few gardening jobs with her husband and spends as much time as possible with her children.

A strong belief in community and work to help spur local community development likely played a role in her winning the award.

“There are so many important and amazing things happening in this community that could use more volunteer labor,” she said. “There are so many people working to make this community a more awesome place to live.”

Mr. Lamoille

1. Hank Glowiak

2. Shap Smith Jr.

3. Caleb Magoon

HM: Mickey Smith.

Nominees: Shap Smith Sr., Rich Westman, Alex Stein, John Walsh, Todd Thomas.

We were rooting for you, Mickey Smith, the beloved former editor and reporter of the News & Citizen, the newspaper that has served Lamoille County and beyond since 1881. Mickey, who died unexpectedly this winter, didn’t start working at the Citizen in 1881, but it’s likely he’ll be remembered that long. Mickey missed the top three by one vote. Hank Glowiak is that bike guy who never wins a thing!

Best religious leader

1. The Rev. Bruce Comiskey

2. Rabbi David Fainsilber

3. Father Benedict Kiely

Nominees: The Rev. Rick Swanson, the Rev. Marisa Laviola, the Rev. Peter Plagge.

The Rev. Bruce Comiskey retired this year after 28 years at the helm of Stowe Community Church. He’ll be pleased to know his memory lives on.

Entrepreneur of the year — Stowe

1. Audra and Michael Hughes (Commodities Natural Market)

2. Stefan and Mary Windler (Stowe Cider)

3. Ed Rovetto (Piecasso)

Nominees: Katrina Veerman and Matt Carrell (PK Coffee), Danielle Moffatt (Cork), Graham Mink, A.J. Shinners (AJ’s Ski & Sports), Robert O’Toole (Robert Paul Galleries).

A nice mix of old and new entrepreneurs, with the Hughes coming out on top. Stowe clearly hungered for a natural food market. Good call Audra and Michael.

Entrepreneur of the year — Waterbury

1. Jen and John Kimmich (The Alchemist)

2. Eric Warnstedt (Hen of the Wood)

3. Mark Frier (The Reservoir)

Nominees: Nicole Grenier (Stowe Street Café), Chad Rich (Prohibition Pig), James Roy (Jimmz Pizza), Hiata Defeo (Bridgeside Books), Sarah Coshow (Stash N’ Stowe).

Two words: Heady Topper. Three words: Jen and John. Four words: Entrepreneur of the year.

Entrepreneur of the year — Morrisville

1. Marisa Menendez and Michael Jansen (Pizza on Main)

2. Caleb Magoon (Power Play/Waterbury Sports)

3. Kim Kaufman and Jimmy Goldsmith (Blue Donkey, 10 Railroad Street)

Nominees: Peter and Gail Bourne.

Local who gives back

1. Donna and Jake Carpenter

2. David Wolfgang

3. Rusty Dewees

Nominees: Diane McCarthy, Esbert Cardenas Jr., Leslie Anderson, Pascale Savard, Benedict Kiely, Glenn Sautter, Katrina Veerman, John Walsh, Nate Freund.

Whenever someone wonders aloud about generosity in Stowe, Donna and Jake always top the list. We’re equally lucky that so many other names come to mind too, all of whom posted very respectable finishes in this category.

Best annual event

1. Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival

2. British Invasion

3. Moscow 4th of July parade

Nominees: Stowe Antique and Classic Car Meet, Waterbury Not Quite Independence Day, Waterbury Arts Festival, Bikes, Bevs and Beats (B3) Festival, Stowe Brewers Festival, Stowe Oktoberfest, Lamoille County Field Days, Stowe Foliage Arts Festival, Stowe Wine & Food Classic, Morristown Rocktoberfest.

Can someone steer this thing? Really, though. As awesome as so many events in Morrisville, Waterbury and Stowe are throughout the year, how do you compete with giant floating explosions of color that go whooooosh, whooooosh, whooooosh …

Best day trip

1. Green River Reservoir

2. Waterbury Reservoir

3. Northeast Kingdom

Nominees: Shelburne Museum, Mt. Mansfield Toll Road, Jay Peak Pump House, Smugglers’ Notch, Little River State Park.

Someone send this poll to the Morrisville Water & Light Department and assorted Vermont officials. (We can provide the list.) Remember, these are the folks arguing over who’s paying for needed dam repairs and threaten to drain one of the state’s most beautiful spots. Can you say loons?

Best community organization

1. Helen Day Arts Center

2. River Arts

3. Stowe Area Association

Nominees: Stowe Performing Arts, Morrisville Co-op, Stowe Vibrancy, Stowe Theatre Guild, Morrisville Alliance for Culture and Commerce, Revitalizing Waterbury.

Here’s a tip. Join the Helen Day as a member. It’s inexpensive. And if it’s your first time, you get a free pizza from Piecasso! Or sponsor a show, create an endowment, volunteer your time.

Best nonprofit

1. Stowe Land Trust

2. North Country Animal League

3. Lamoille Area Cancer Network

Nominees: Clarina Howard Nichols Center, Lamoille County Food Bank, Stowe Adaptive Sports/Friends of Stowe Adaptive Sports, iShare, Vermont Food Share, Stowe Weekend of Hope, Waterbury Area Trails Association, Stowe Mountain Bike Club, Lamoille Family Center, Stowe Education Fund, United Way, Good Neighbor Fund, Salvation Farms, Lamoille Home Health and Hospice.

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