Votes pour in without the politics

Thanks to a sensational response, the OBSERVER Saturday edition will include a special 32-page section that has been going strong for 11 years now. Our annual Readers’ Choice Awards, which began in 2007, will again showcase a number of the businesses and attractions that makes the community special.

Over those 11 years, the section — and the voting — has evolved. In the early years, paper ballots for the nominees came in by the hundreds. It took about a month to tally all that information.

Today, the voting has increased thanks mainly to the power of the Internet. Paper ballots, which are still popular with more than 450 being submitted, have decreased.

This year, in paper and on computer, 43,331 total votes were received and spread out over the 60 categories included. How does that compare to recent elections and Chautauqua County turnout? Pretty good when looking at the 2015 vote. That year, which was not a presidential election, less than 20,000 voted.

Unsurprisingly, the categories that received the most total votes for awards dealt with food. However, there were some exceptions.

Here is a breakdown:

¯ Area restaurants — 1,135 total votes.

¯ Business in Dunkirk — 1,090 votes.

¯ Pizza — 961.

¯ Breakfast — 937.

¯ Business in Fredonia — 921.

¯ Auto repair — 909.

¯ Ice cream parlor — 901.

¯ Chicken wings — 891.

¯ Locally made products — 881.

¯ Grocery store — 877.

Just as revealing were a number of the winners.

There were very few runaways, as most of the nominees were separated by anywhere from seven to 10 votes.

Our top vote getter received 563 votes while a couple of others received 392 and 304. Other category winners received around 250 votes.

Needless to say, the section provides some entertainment and pride for many in the community. We at the newspaper always appreciate seeing the certificates in businesses for their participation.

A full list of winners will be listed in the section — and look on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed starting next week as we begin showcasing some of the winners from 2017.

Disappointed one of your favorites is missing? Be sure to look for next year’s nomination form, which starts appearing in the OBSERVER in June.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to or call 366-3000, ext. 401.