Best of Athens Logo 2018

Athens’ Best-Kept Secret

Miller’s Chicken

The phrase “Best-Kept Secret” implies something really good that is not very well-known. Similarly, the term “secret” usually refers to something that has not already been revealed. Lucky for the first-place winner of the Best-Kept Secret category, our readers give more credence to emotions than semantics. 

Last year’s first-place winner Miller’s Chicken takes the crown again, winning the title by 102 votes this time. At this point, though, a more appropriate title for the West State Street chicken go-to might be “Best Once-Kept Secret.” The jig is up, especially since the restaurant also took first for Best Chicken Wings this year.

A category favorite, the city of Athens’ Sells Park, which has won first-place in years past, came in second this year – a mere four votes ahead of the Athens Farmers Market, which takes third place for bringing all sorts of Athens goodness together in one location twice a week. 

Fourth place goes to Eclipse Company Store Craft Beer Hall in The Plains, and in fifth place is Larry’s Dawg House on West Union Street.

Best Non-Profit to Volunteer for

Friends of the Shelter Dogs

Who doesn’t love dogs? That’s one reason why Friends of the Shelter Dogs, a local non-profit devoted to helping dogs at the Athens County Dog Shelter get adopted, was voted the Best Non-Profit to Volunteer for this year. It won first in this category last year as well.

In that same vein, the Athens County Dog Shelter wins second place in this category this year. Woof!

Third place goes to Community Food Initiatives in Athens, a non-profit devoted to bringing equal access to healthy, local food to people in Athens County. Last but certainly not least, Good Works and Rural Action, also based in Athens, take home the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

Most Annoying Local News Story

Roundabouts

As usually happens with this annoying category, we don’t know why our readers selected “roundabouts” as the Most Annoying News Story. They might feel that roundabouts are annoying themselves, or that (my choice) people who complain about roundabouts are annoying. Or maybe they find that old Yes classic, “Roundabout,” annoying. We really have no idea.

If you do have a problem with traffic roundabouts, you need to answer that knock on your front door: 1990 has come calling and wants you back. But seriously, we know exactly who you are if you hate traffic roundabouts. You’re the moron who sits at the roundabout entrance for a minute and a half waiting for the entire traffic circle to be clear before cautiously entering. We’re the guy behind you laying on the horn.

Second annoying place goes to “bike lanes on East State Street.” Again, no indication of whether this is an annoying story because readers find the bike-lane proposal annoying, or because they find people who are annoyed by the bike-lane proposal annoying. It might be both.

“Athens City Schools facility planning” comes in third, and you guessed it, we have no idea what our readers were thinking (that’s our new motto!).

Fourth and fifth place go to the Athens City Pool controversy and fracking.

Best Evidence Athens Is Moving Forward

TACO (marijuana law reform)

In the fairly vague landscape of “positive local trends,” there are a couple of things that stood out to our readers this year. Namely, The Athens Cannabis Ordinance (lovingly nicknamed TACO), which was overwhelmingly approved by Athens city voters in the November general election voters, took home first place this year in this category. The newly adopted city law removes the fine and court costs for anybody charged with a misdemeanor marijuana crime in the city (although in practice, the OU Police will still charge people under state laws).

Meanwhile, folks are really excited about the new Athens City Pool being installed out at the Athens Community Center this year, and voted it second place this year in this category.

Rounding out third place is “roundabouts,” which is funny considering how vocally opposed some of our commenters are to the traffic constructs. But we’ve always suspected that a massive silent majority has been very OK with roundabouts, and that the only problem arises when bad drivers don’t know how to use them.

Fourth place this year goes to “bike lanes,” likely referring to new bike lanes installed in the city of Athens in recent years, and soon in the commercial district of East State Street. Fifth place goes to the “Le-Ax Water District,” although it’s not clear exactly why that would be considered something that’s moving forward other than the fact that water does generally move forward rather than backward.

Best Annual Event or Festival

Nelsonville Music Festival

Athens and the surrounding area have so many great annual fairs, celebrations and festivals, it’s hard to pick just one as a favorite. It seems to have been a tough decision for our readers, as well: first and second place in the Best Annual Event or Festival were only 19 votes apart.

The Nelsonville Music Festival comes out on top this year. With stars like The Decemberists and Ani DiFranco gracing this year’s lineup – continuing a tradition of top artists in the past – it’s no wonder so many local fans put their ballots behind this annual four-day music festival.

Second place goes to Ohio Brew Week, last year’s winner. Featuring dozens of fun and disparate beery events, OBW has been growing every year. The Last Call street festival draws thousands to uptown Athens, essentially giving A-town a second Boogie on the Bricks-like street festival each summer.

In third place is the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, the annual fall celebration at Lake Snowden Park. While pawpaw lovers have a particular attraction to this September event, you don’t have to like this strange Appalachian fruit to love the Pawpaw Festival (though why anyone would dislike Jackie O’s Pawpaw Wheat Beer is an abiding mystery).

In fourth place we have the legendary/celebrated/famous/infamous/notorious Halloween Block Party, and in fifth place is Boogie on the Bricks.

Best Local Controversy

City Schools Facility Planning

Ain’t no controversy like a local controversy. This year, the Athens City Schools’ facility planning process (in which the School District is considering the cost and efficacy of renovating or building new schools with some state funding available) brought a significant amount of local debate about the best way to improve the education our local kids receive.

Meanwhile, the ever-present specter of “fracking” (horizontal hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas) took home second place this year, likely because of the ongoing debate over existing oil-and-gas injection wells in Athens County and potential production drilling wells here as well, and the leasing of land for fracking in the Wayne National Forest a couple counties over.

“Bike lanes on East State Street” wins third place this year, with some area residents arguing that adding bike lanes once the road is repaved this summer will make the area dangerous for bikers (or drivers).

Fourth place in this category is a tie between Hocking College and the Athens Cannabis Ordinance (TACO).

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