Who serves up Rim Country’s best Mexican food? Steak? Fish fry?
And who really has the best gems (jeweler), vehicles (dealer) and nuts and bolts (hardware store)?
Find out Monday during the Payson Roundup’s annual readers poll gala at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.
Already, Roundup readers have cast 1,200 ballots both online and through paper ballots.
Since the newspaper launched the gala four years ago, the event has drawn a larger crowd every year. It could be thanks to the free hors d’oeuvres and drinks, but we like to think people are proud to support local businesses who have struggled through the recession.
Last year, several hundred people gathered around tables and when those were full, lined the back walls in the casino’s banquet hall.
While they cheered, the nominees in the 84 categories fidgeted in their seats. They came hoping to win bragging rights for the year as Roundup readers named their favorite in just about everything.
Categories include cooks, cops and chiropractors, doctors, dentists, antique shops, auto mechanics, hair dressers, dog groomers, bartenders, bistros and bankers.
This year things are a little different. The Roundup streamlined it to 69 categories to focus more on people and services, like best lunch spot, rather than best hamburger.
And new this year, the second and third finalists will also receive a certificate. Before, the top three finalists took a bow, but only the first place finisher took home a certificate. After this year’s awards show, second and third place can pick up certificates.
“We want to acknowledge that they are all winners,” said Paula VanBuskirk, who is tallying the votes.
The Roundup started the readers poll in the ’90s under then-publisher Dave Price, but simply published the results. In 2010, current publisher John Naughton decided to up the ante and hold an annual gala.
Doors open at 5:30 and the event kicks off at 6 p.m. in the casino’s ballroom.