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Columbia County to select its best for 6th year

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce on Friday launched the sixth annual Best of Columbia County contest to celebrate local businesses. Pictured, left to right, are Best Photographer for 2018 Michael Molinski, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeffrey Hunt and Judy Grunberg from PS21 in Chatham.
March 29, 2019 05:44 pm Updated: April 1, 2019 08:38 am


From a choice hair salon to the best eateries and performance venues, Columbia County residents will have their chance to cast a ballot for the very best of the county’s businesses.

Voting will begin Monday in the sixth annual Best of Columbia County contest.

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce kicked off this year’s contest Friday. Columbia-Greene Media is a co-sponsor of the annual event.

“Individuals from the public will begin to nominate their individual businesses for ‘Best of’ this year for Columbia County,” chamber President and CEO Jeffrey Hunt said. “This is our sixth year.”

Local businesses compete in over 80 categories, from restaurants to photographers, supermarkets and clothing stores. There are even numerous sub-categories, for best burgers, Buffalo wings and more, Hunt said.

The Best of Columbia County draws thousands of votes across the roughly 85 categories.

“We had over 4,000 voters last year,” said Erica Izer of Columbia-Greene Media. “And there were over 80,000 votes cast in the different categories.”

The contest is conducted in two rounds. First, shoppers cast ballots for their favorite businesses in individual categories, which are narrowed down to the top three in each group.

In the next round of voting, shoppers cast ballots a second time to determine the ultimate winner in each category.

“We really want to encourage people to nominate beginning Monday, April 1,” Hunt said. “Last year, we had a record number of nominations and we want to increase those numbers.”

Mike Molinski, of Molinski Photography and Custom Framing in Hudson, won Best Photographer in 2014, 2015 and 2018 and said he uses the accolade as a way to promote his business.

“It’s no secret there are a lot of photographers in the county people can choose from, so it’s an honor to be part of the community and have that community reach out to me,” Molinski said. “It adds to the credibility of my business as a photographer in the area that people can trust.”

Last year, local celebrities presented at the Best Of Columbia County awards, including actress Linda Lavin and former Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf der Maur, who owns Basilica Hudson.

This year’s festivities will be held June 27 at PS21 — a performing arts venue in Chatham, which is kicking off its second year in its new amphitheatre.

Hunt also advised business owners to promote the contest by reminding their customers to put in their votes.

“This was started to promote local businesses,” Hunt said. “It’s a showcase of local businesses.”