Nothing illuminates the character of a person, or a people, like hard times. The pandemic was unique in recent history in that it allowed us to observe this effect statewide, nationally and globally. And while the media pundits have been arguing over the petty politics of masks and the roving blame game that results from any global crisis, a more telling measure of the quality of human nature is not who has won at a game of gotcha, but who has actually been making things better.
We were fortunate to have tapped into a rich vein of intelligence on just this topic while surveying our readership for their suggestions for this year’s Best of NH poll — the results of which appear in this issue.
Along with the hundreds of top picks from nearly 15,000 responses (each one a tiny prayer that maybe this year we could actually get out and fully enjoy these places again) came a bonus. We got dozens of suggestions for companies, people, attractions and organizations that have gone above and beyond to make the best of things for their clients and others, often with little or no concern for their own bottom lines.
The list of nominations featured places like Luchador Tacos of North Conway, which began delivering free breakfast burritos to other locally owned businesses in town. Delivery bags bore the handwritten message, “We’re all in this together.” It’s a phrase we heard and read a lot last year, but Luchador Tacos decided to show, not just tell. Or consider the heroic efforts of Kaylon Sweet, the owner/chef of Osteria Poggio restaurant in Center Harbor, who provided free meals to thousands of people who were having a tough time making ends meet.
Oh, and how about Project CommUNITY, an on-air fundraiser that raised nearly $2 million to support the work of the New Hampshire Food Bank. It was a joint effort of WMUR-TV and iHeartRadio, featuring popular on-air personalities Erin Fehlau, Sean McDonald and Greg Kretschmar who hosted the hourlong special, enlisting local A-listers like Adam Sandler, Seth Meyers, Ken Burns, Recycled Percussion, Matt Bonner and many others. Alicia McDevitt, news director for WMUR and one of the guiding forces behind the initiative, humbly remarked, “It was a team effort.”
That’s some team.
Anyway, these and other winners of our “Above and Beyond All-Stars” award will get certificates with a special logo and will all be included in our Best of NH Hall of Fame alongside the hundreds of other winners we’ve recognized over the 20-year history of our Best of NH issue and party.
And, speaking of that party, usually by the time the July issue is being prepared for the press it’s way too late to encourage readers to join us for the fun. This year, we’ve rescheduled the event to August 21 (thanks, COVID!), and while we truly expect it to sell out early, there may still be a chance to buy a ticket.
There’s an ad on page 88 with details and the Arts and Entertainment section of our Best of NH pages has profiles of some of the talent we’ll have on hand — most notably the first-ever, much-ballyhooed (by us) Granite State Humor Summit (see page 76 for a touch of graphic ballyhoo on this created by our clever art director).
If you must miss it, we have plans to feature outtakes and performances from the party online, so you should at least pop in to bestofnh.com to get a glimpse of what we’ve pulled together this year. Because in the end, the Best of NH is indeed a team effort, and we consider you a part of our team.