Best of Springfield celebration to go virtual

Best of Springfield winners will be named in virtual presentation Thursday. Categories include everything from foods such as pizza and barbecue to businesses including dentists and landscapers to offbeat subjects including Best Place for Instagram Pic.  BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Best of Springfield winners will be named in virtual presentation Thursday. Categories include everything from foods such as pizza and barbecue to businesses including dentists and landscapers to offbeat subjects including Best Place for Instagram Pic. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

It will be like you’re there even if it isn’t in person when the Chamber of Greater Springfield recognizes the city’s favorites as voted by community members.

The 2020 Best of Springfield Virtual Celebration will highlight the community’s preferred food, businesses, services and more in 39 categories when it streams live on Facebook, 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 on the Chamber’s social media pages.

As large gatherings are discouraged due to the ongoing pandemic, Chamber staff will bring the party to the people, streaming the program inside The Exchange at the COHatch.

“It’s been a hard year. Businesses have had a hard year and this will celebrate the positives in a COVID-aware way,” said Camaren Sloan, Chamber Convention and Visitors Bureau events manager, who will also be one of the program’s hosts along with Chamber staff and other guests.

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Doing the program virtually meant not just a presentation of the winners, but a lot of extras, meaning getting creative.

Along with the 2020 Best of Springfield contest award winners, the program will also include: live music from local band The American Landscape; music from DJ Chill; a Best of Springfield cocktail mixology video at the Market Bar; a video on how to make a mac and cheese dish Speakeasy Ramen; gift card drawings for local businesses; and a live drawing for the Downtown Springfield Passport grand prize winner.

COHatch’s restaurants and bars will be open during the broadcast, although it will be done in a separate room. Speakeasy Ramen will also have a pop-up there with its food available starting at 5 p.m.

Best of categories everything from foods such as pizza and barbecue to businesses including dentists and landscapers to offbeat subjects including Best Place for Instagram Pic. Votes for initial considerations were gathered and then narrowed to three finalists in each division.

Despite the pandemic, Sloan said the voting was similar to past years and still had a decent turnout. Some of the best feedback is when people see the Best of list and discover new things.

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“People enjoy being exposed to local businesses and supporting them,” she said. “Some people will try out a new entity because it won. It’s a friendly competition.”

Sloan also thinks this will be a welcome distraction and a positive note from everything from the pandemic to the election and other life demands. Being digital also allows for more flexibility and freedom than at a venue and the chance to reach a wider audience.

For anyone who can’t watch the virtual presentation live, it will be available later that evening or the next day on the Chamber’s Facebook page along with the list of winners.

“It will be a nice, positive note and we encourage everyone to take a break and enjoy what we have here,” said Sloan.

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