Suggestions have been tallied and the list of categories is ready for the 17th installment of Best of Texoma.

This year’s Best of Texoma will include more than 175 separate categories organized into Eat & Drink, Medical, Entertainment, Shopping & Commerce, Services, Work & Lifestyle, and Financial & Real Estate. And once again, The Star Community Award will recognize an individual for outstanding contributions to the greater Texoma community.

The Best of Texoma staff considered suggestions from readers and the results of last year’s voting in adjusting the category list to reflect what Texoma voters believe is most important.

With the reader category suggestions, most were viable — best staycation (stay at home vacation) or handmade tamales for example — but some did not make the cut. Some were a bit too limiting — best pork chop or best outback restaurant — and some were too, well…what does a farm sitter do?

Nevertheless, the readers’ suggestions are an important part of the process.

“Best of Texoma reflects what the people think is the best in this community, and it helps fuel journalism in this community,” Senior Group Publisher of Texoma Marketing and Media Group Nate Rodriguez said. “The Best of Texoma is but another way we provide information, and it funds our core mission of bringing the news to the community.”

“Last year’s Best of Texoma was the biggest and most successful ever,” Rodriguez said. “This year’s edition promises to top that, and everyone at the paper is proud to be a part of the on-going success and acceptance of the project.”

“Over the years, Best of Texoma has defined what readers and voters in the community believe deserves recognition, and as the public’s votes will decide the eventual winners, community participation is essential,” said Executive Editor Adrian O’Hanlon III. “The list of categories for this year’s Best of Texoma was reduced somewhat from last year’s record number to focus on those areas which showed more voter interest in previous contests and through this year’s category nominations.” 

Reader participation is not only essential; it’s fun too.

Linda Tarzis — a Sherman resident and Herald Democrat subscriber — said she enjoys the magazine to see which business end up winning each category. 

“I enjoy looking at it and I read the whole thing from front to back — I read it all,” Tarzis said. “It’s fun and (businesses) try to do a good job so the people can vote on it.” 

Businesses also recognize the importance of community recognition.

“It’s affirmation, of all the work you put in, of customer service,” said Robert Kersh, the managing partner of Parkway Buick, GMC in Sherman. “People find value in that. We’ve had people come in as say, ‘We’re here because we saw you in Best of Texoma.’”

“To win the support of the community is something worthy, something to try and accomplish,” Kersh said. “It’s fun too — the whole (Best of Texoma gala) and seeing who wins what. It’s kind of like reviews, and you know how important reviews are these days.”

So make note of these dates for Best of Texoma and be part of the process:

Jan. 30: The list of 2019 Categories will run in the Herald Democrat along with a paper ballot for submitting nominations within those categories. Nominations may also be submitted at the Herald Democrat website: www.heralddemocrat.com. 

Feb. 3, 6, 10: Paper nomination ballots will appear in the paper on each of those days, with Feb. 10 being the last day for submissions.

Feb. 15-20: Runoff voting (on the website only) to determine the top three nominees in each category if necessary. 

March 14-29: Voting (on the website only) to select favorites among the final three nominees in each category.

April 27: Winners will be announced at the Best of Texoma 2019 Gala.

April 28: Best of Texoma magazine distributed. 

The Best of Texoma 2019 will be bigger and better than ever before, but only with community participation through nominations and votes.

Only one vote per IP or email address is allowed per day. If votes cast do not follow guidelines, they will be deemed invalid and will result in all votes by said IP or email address to be disqualified.

The Best of Texoma is community driven. Advertising with the Herald Democrat or its affiliate publications does not confer an advantage in the selections and voting, nor does it guarantee representation in Best of Texoma.

All votes are calculated and audited by an independent third party to ensure fairness and neutrality.