May has arrived, and that means folks will be relishing their upcoming trips over the Memorial Day weekend to Lake Tenkiller and the Illinois River. Before that, families with 12th-graders in their households will be making plans to watch their children make the monumental transition that graduation brings.
It also means Daily Press readers will get to vote for their favorites, in our annual “Tahlequah At Its Best” poll. This is the 22nd year we’ve produced this special supplement, which was first introduced to our readers when Jim Gray was our advertising manager. Jim later went on to manage his own newspaper, and then served a couple of terms as chief of the Osage Nation; now, he and his wife, Olivia, run their own consulting firm.
Jim apparently knew a good thing when he saw it. At the time, the Press was one of the first newspapers in Oklahoma that produced such a supplement. Now, it’s standard fare for almost all newspapers, and for good reason: Readers like it, because it allows them to participate in choosing who’s worthy of the title as “best of the best.” Some years, we’ve received more than 1,000 ballots from readers!
Over the years, in response to reader requests and the changing face of Tahlequah itself, we’ve added some categories, while we’ve eliminated others. This year, we’ve restored a few of the more popular “individual” categories that were stricken from the ballot over the past few years – such as favorite teacher, etc. It’s important that voters identify individuals in a way that will help us validate them. For instance, we always need names and occupations. It doesn’t help much if you vote for “Sue Smith” as best teacher, and don’t tell us where she teaches! It’s also important to note that only Cherokee County-based businesses and residents are eligible to win.
The first ballot appears on page 8A of today’s Press, so without further ado, fill it out and bring it to our office at 106 W. Second, or mail it to At Its Best, Tahlequah Daily Press, P.O. Box 888, Tahlequah, Okla. 74465. All ballots must be in our office by close of business Wednesday, May 15 to be counted. The winners will be published in the Sunday, June 23 edition.
Only original copies as they appear in the Press will be accepted; photocopies will be discarded. There is one exception: We will accept printouts of ballots from subscribers to our e-edition; however, they must write their names on any ballots they submit so we can confirm who they are. Technically, this does mean purchase of the paper, in some form, is required for voting, but this is the best way to avoid radical duplication. In the past, we’ve had folks turn in as many as 200 or 300 copies of ballots, simply to assure a particular winner in a single category.
For a similar reason, we will also reject ballots that aren’t more than 50 percent complete This discourages an enthusiastic respondent from getting a stack of papers and homing in on a single category in an effort to promote himself, or a friend or relative. Of course, we know some people “campaign” for their favorites, and vote repeatedly in an effort to sway the outcome. But that’s all part of the fun!
Each category will have a winner and a runner-up, and once the ballots are counted and the outcome is determined, our advertising account executives will be calling on winners to help them plan how to best strut their stuff in the special supplement. Many businesses that don’t normally advertise in any area media do participate in At Its Best, because it offers them the opportunity to say “thanks” to our readers for putting them over the top.
And speaking of gratitude, we want to extend ours in advance, to readers who choose the interactive path of participation – and who help us make this special section a success every year. We’ll be looking for your ballots soon!