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  23 May 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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top 10 activities
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Bozeman's Best
 
Bozeman's Best 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010  
 

FOOD & DRINK
Best Breakfast
Best Coffee Shop
Best Bargain Lunch
Best Happy Hour
Best Off-main Restaurant
Best Pizza
Best Restaurant if Someone Else Is Paying
Best In-town Steak
Best Asian
Best Mexican
Best New Restaurant
Best Restaurant Proposal to Cross a Hostile
    Neighborhood Association

Best Local Food Initiative
Best Wurst
Best Wine List
Best Local Brew for Sunny Patios
Best Wine Store
Best Damn Bar
Best Dessert

LOCALS
Best Author
Best Athlete to Win a National Title
Best Artist
Best Band
Best Local Champion in the Fight
    Against Big Agriculture

Best Jewelry Designer
Best Octogenarian
Best Local Media Personality

COLOR
Best Celebrity Predator
Best Cursed Downtown Restaurant Space
Best Under-loved Civic Venue
Best Ridiculous Waste of Chronicle Ink
Best Shady Gubernatorial Candidate
Best Most Abusive SuperPac in Montana
Best Idiots Brandishing Lethal Weapon Story
Best Recent Example of an Energy Company     Acting Horrendously in Montana
Best Fabulously Expensive Civic Plan
    without Objectives

 

COMMERCIAL
Best Ski Techs
Best Bike Shop
Best Deals on Outdoor Wear
Best Bookstore
Best Second-Hand Store
Best MD for ACLs
Best Dentist We Wish Wasn't Allowed to Retire     Because He's So Awesome
Best GP
Best Vet
Best Big Box
Best Hot Springs
Best Salon/Spa
Best Mani/Pedi
Best Place to Get Your Kink On
Best Potentially Sinister Corporate Takeover


CULTURE
Best Art Gallery
Best Rainy Day Activity
Best Place to Boogie Down (without tolerating
   Bar IX or having to wait for a reception)

Best Live Music Venue
Best Non-profit
Best Place for Morel Mushroom Foraging
Best New Plan for a Historic Landmark
Best Barn
Best Music Festival of the Year
Best Bad Place for a Walk on a Windy Day

Best Food
 
bozemans best award Best Breakfast
The Cateye Café

Mmm, greasy—in the singular, comfort-food kind of way. Breakfast in the building with the cow mural is as popular with weekday business-folk as it is with ski bums heading up the hill. Among other hearty and delicious favorites, the “BBFT” (banana bread French toast) is one of the Cateye’s signature offerings. Also worthy of shout-outs are the ghetto mocha (coffee + hot chocolate) and Orangina mimosas. Once home to the original Audrey’s Pizza, the Cateye is family-friendly, as evidenced by the kids crawling into your booth and drawers of toys in several tables.  And your sassy server (whose nametag reads something like “Uh, miss?”) may sit down beside you to chat or just to take a load off her incredibly busy morning.  Uh, miss? might also tell you that you’ll eat it…you’ll eat it and like it.
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bozemans best award Best Coffee Shop
Rockford Coffee Roasters

This repeat winner offered a second venue this year.  The Wilsons snapped up the southwest corner of the old City Hall building at East Main and Rouse. If that busy concrete terrace could talk, it’d say: Nice Move.  While they’ve got the friendliest baristas (and baristos) in Bozeman, they also boast the cozy-cool venue and the prevalence of startup entrepreneurs seeking refuge, chatter, and solid Wifi.  You’ll find no “TWO HOUR MAXIMUM” signs here, that’s sure.
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bozemans best award Best Bargain Lunch
Colombo’s Pizza and Pasta

Nope, not just for starving college students; Colombo’s is for anyone who loves tasty Italian food.  All ages are welcome to hit the 1000 block of West College Street and get a piece of pizza and trip to the salad bar for $5.95 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) -- and the Colombo family doesn’t skimp on the cut, either.   For entertainment, you might also get to witness Joe, Janet, or Cassie Colombo wielding that pizza-oven spatula -- it’s like da Vinci with a gigantic brush.
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bozemans best award Best Happy Hour
Starky’s Authentic Americana

It took some doin’ to upset the two-year champion of unflagging generosity that is the Dry Fly Saloon’s happy hour, but Kathy and Glen Stark have done it.  The sun-sponge of a patio tipped the balance, but with some the region’s best drafts at $2 a pop and an affordable list of scrumptious appetizers (sign me up for a weekly supply of the reuben sliders, yeah-huh), it’s a deal.  One caveat:  they 86d the specials on Fridays, and while we wish it wasn’t a workday, too, it still is. 
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bozemans best award Best Off-main Restaurant
Fresco Cafe

The current trend is downtown, so it takes a pioneering attitude to break free from the high foot-traffic (and just-as-high rent).  Susan and Bill Neubauer opened the Fresco Café on the corner of West Lamme and North 7th years ago, and in doing so created the best neighborhood restaurant in town.  Nothing better than a stroll down a tree-lined street to stretch out after the plate of homemade rigatoni you just wolfed down.
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bozemans best award Best Pizza
Tarantino’s

Back-to-back champions, you bet.  What’s been added to all that Tarantino’s scrumptiousness is a new location on North 7th Avenue, meaning better parking and a more family-friendly venue with 19 different brews available.  Welcome to the neighborhood, Ryan, we’ll see ya soon.
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bozemans best award Best Restaurant if Somebody Else is Paying
Blackbird Kitchen

Top honors in this category go to the Blackbird Kitchen.  While the building at East Main and Bozeman Avenue was rejuvenated three years ago, it’s the interior of the Blackbird that sings.  Food critic Beverly Ridge says the slam-dunk order for two includes vino, the white bean crostini, the tagliatelle pasta, and then she recommends you “pick your own favorite wood-fired pizza, then start pawing all over each other.”  (We think she meant pawing all over each other’s plates.)
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bozemans best award Best In-town Steak
Costco

This category is a big-league curveball when it should be more like Tee-ball. Since the demise of Boodles, there’s really been no option better than tooling down I-90 for a succulent cut of meat, perfectly seasoned.  19 miles of pavement west is Sir Scott’s Oasis, or you can head even farther east to Livingston’s Rib & Chop House.  For all that is good and pure, isn’t it silly that the only place in Bozeman with the USDA’s highest designation of “prime” beef is in a soul-sucking retail outlet?
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bozemans best award Best Asian
Sweet Chili Asian Bistro

While the diners of southwest Montana are far more patient than their counterparts in an over-competitive, customer-pampering, ethnically diverse city like New York or L.A., the risks of opening a restaurant in Montana are just as real.  Sweet Chili managed to overcome the hump with such grace that they’ve quickly become the best and most popular of the Asian crop in town.  A little Hong Kong hustle, great food, friendly service, and on-site ownership—and they did it all without one window.  So much for “a room with a view.”
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bozemans best award Best Mexican
La Tinga

Chalk up three years in a row, people, and that’s not just dust. Let’s give it up for Bozeman’s most incredible Mexican food, shall we? We are indeed fortunate to have Curt and Alba on Main Street (and, coming soon, at a second TBD location). If you haven’t yet experienced La Tinga—which is a named after their savory pork preparation—for heck’s sake get in there. But leave the plastic at home; they only take cash. P.S. You’re going to want another round of those tamales.
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bozemans best award Best New Restaurant
Vera Fare

Frittatas, waffles, rice bowls, and salads—forget the four food groups, this is how food should be categorized. Welcome to Bozeman, Vera Fare! Hyalite-area inhabitants who favor the stealthy access of South 19th will be particularly thankful for this affordable eatery, offering such delights as the Lost at Sea salad, Orange Crème Waffles, and the Wok the Line frittata. In addition to the fair trade organic coffee and tea, local ingredients, and milk substitutes (almond, coconut, soy), Vera Fare just so happens to be Bozeman’s first entirely gluten-free restaurant.
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bozemans best award Best Restaurant Proposal to Cross a Hostile Neighborhood Association
NENA vs. Damasco's

Illustrating the difference between “acting cool” and “actually being cool,” the Northeast Neighborhood Association went apeshit when a beloved Italian restaurant owner from Belgrade presented plans to open a local venue in an existing building at the corner of Peach and Wallace.  For Northsiders who pride themselves on “live and let live,” this was a new low. 
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bozemans best award Best Local Food Initiative
Good Thymes Summer Camp

Oh, if only adults could go back to summer camp, especially with contemporary options like the Good Thymes Camp near Ennis, MT.  Elementary-age students can experience a natural resource education and sustainable agriculture summer camp held in three separate sessions from June to August.  In collaboration with the Madison Watershed Partnership, Madison Farm-to-Fork also sponsors this incredible opportunity for kids to learn about local food.  As much as we loved the camps of yore, it’s a smart bet that exposure to sustainable agriculture and local food will benefit this new generation even more than our archery and craft lessons ever could.
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bozemans best award Best Wurst
Yellowstone Game Processing

Yeah, some idiot ran the $4-million-cash-cow rodeo out of Bozeman over dipspit.  And most the area farms got cut up for oversized lots and grew a final crop of token American housing.  The New Bozeman has tried real hard to sever its working-class ties (except when they need staffers for low-wage jobs at Kohl’s and Qdoba).  But this is still a sportsmen’s paradise, and the best sausage around is the “spicey” antelope cheddarwurst from Yellowstone Game Processing up in Chesnut.  Haven’t had it yet?  Better go find a hunter to hug. 
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bozemans best award Best Wine List
Plonk

Was there any doubt?  Market insiders and aficionados make no attempt to harbor this secret; Plonk is the go-to place for groupies of the vine.  Part-owner Michael Ochsner goes the extra mile to make sure the selection is vast—and I mean the Magellan version of vast.  Tucked into every niche in the bricks are the best offerings from every available continent, and as soon as global warming—sorry, “climate change”—warms up the place, Antarctica’s finest vineyards will be on the menu, too.
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bozemans best award Best Local Brew for Sunny Patios
Salmon Fly Honey Rye

The time has come. Patios are now officially sunny. Do yourself a favor and skip the PBR; Salmon Fly Honey Rye is Bozeman's best... and Belgrade's best, ‘cause that’s where it’s brewed, thanks to Howard and the gang on Frontage Road. But as all local barflies know, most establishments in town—and lots of wedding receptions—carry this nice, hoppy brew. Salmon Fly is equally enjoyable on the decks of Ale Works, Norris, or on your own patio at home.  Start worshipping some sun and enjoying the gift Madison River Brewing has given us!
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bozemans best award Best Wine Store
Vino per tutti

Not a wine connoisseur? Not a problem. Vino per tutti (“wine for all,” in case your bilingual is bygone) is Bozeman’s delightful downtown wine specialty shop, where owners Tim and Beverly Christiansen take the time to help the most un-wine-savvy customers find the perfect bottle.   Also, free tip for you: there are great gifts here (especially if you have a mother-in-law) like the wine aerator, wine racks, and glasses. It’s fair to say that Vino per tutti provides customers with the perfect mix of variety and affordability.  As the Christiansens say, “Drinking wine is easy, finding great wine values can be hard work.” 
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bozemans best award Best Damn Bar
The Bacchus Pub

Shortly after opening for Christmas Stroll a few fa-la-las ago, the management at the Bacchus abruptly changed course; it seems the yard-of-beer gimmick caught on a little too well with the drunken rowdies from MSU.  So, they cancelled the promotion, snubbing the lucrative college crowd, and the result was, to put it mildly, the best damn bar in town.  A great clientele, servers that are easy on the eye—no, not you, Jay—popular Moscow Mules, another season-stretching patio, the “Montana Water”… should we keep going?  Okay, Marco’s Thursday night tacos are neck-and-neck with Alma’s (La Tinga).
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bozemans best award Best Dessert
Sweet Pea Bakery

We’re back on the Sweet Pea Bakery train (Coal-free! It runs on sugar!).  Their bellisimo and signature item is the Opera Cake, our 2010 Magpie’s Best Dessert.  You want an encore, paesan?  Carrie and Seth gots your encore—this year’s winner is their German Chocolate Cake.  We think it’s enough for even the staunchest opera buff to shout “Jawohl!”
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Best Commercial
 
bozemans best award Best Ski Techs
Northern Lights Trading Co.

It’s a big shop they’ve got down there in the bowels of their West Babcock store.  And though every wrench-hovel in town strives to evoke a chill vibe, nobody comes close to these guys (in fact, several of the also-rans are much too busy playing the bro-brah part than staying busy).  Between the wide array of gear, rentals, and equal servings of howdy and how-to, Northern Lights remains on top of this field.
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bozemans best award Best Bike Shop
Summit Bike & Ski

How many bike shops do we have now?  It feels like a baker’s dozen, so it’s tough out there in bike-shop Bozeman.  But until someone comes along and puts a working tap next to a Park Tool bike stand, Summit Bike & Ski the best around.  (P.S. that was no idle reference; the crossbreed pairing is all the rage in groove-havens like Fort Collins and Portland.)
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bozemans best award Best Deals on Outdoor Wear
Patagonia in Dillon

OK, so it’s not in Bozeman. But to a true local, it might as well be, because for many the Memorial Day/Labor Day/President’s Day excursions are part of the experience. In case all your three-day weekends are full, however, everything in the store is at least 30% off, every day.  Yes, you can find bikinis, flip-flops, and board shorts there, but you can also find the practical: long johns, pullovers, packs, and generally things essential to the outdoor life in the Treasure State. For all the derogatory jibes at ‘Patagucci,’ of which we’re as guilty as the next, look at what Bozemanites are wearing most days—it probably came here on the Dillon Express.
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bozemans best award Best Bookstore
Country Bookshelf

Blame the Kindles and Nooks of the world if you wish (we do), but a small, locally-owned bookstore is becoming more and more of a rarity in today’s world. The Country Bookshelf is another 3-year winner where, unlike in your token Barnes and Noble, you will encounter patrons who still whisper when they speak—a nice feature after a day at the amusement park of Gallatin Valley Mall. And you know that awesome new-book smell? This is the only place in town you’re going to find it.
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bozemans best award Best Second Hand Store
Sack’s
A truly local thrift store, one that’s less a name and more good will, Sack’s is back on top after winning this category in 2010.  The altruistic folk out there will appreciate that half of Sack’s proceeds support the Bozeman Help Center.  (For more about the Help Center and their incomparable executive director, Wendy Visscher, scoot on down to Best Octogenarian.)
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bozemans best award Best MD for ACLs
Dr. John D. Campbell, M.D.

Head of the renowned Bridger Orthropedics, Dr. John D. Campbell, M.D., has been for some time Bozeman’s go-to guy for orthopedic surgery, particularly for sports-related injuries.  Barring the unforeseen, we just can’t imagine that changing anytime soon.  After all, Dr. Campbell’s been the Director of Sports Medicine at Montana State University since 1991, is a team physician with the U.S. Men’s Alpine Ski Team, and told the Magpie he’s completed about 3,000 ACL repairs in his career.  How you gonna top those credentials? 
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bozemans best award Best Dentist We Wish Wasn’t Allowed to Retire Because He’s So Awesome
Dr. Mike Alvord, DDS

Dang it, he escaped. Even though he did just retire, few would argue that Dr. Mike Alvord, DDS, must be counted among Bozeman’s all-time greatest dentists. It seems impossible after scraping gums for 38 years to be so perpetually and genuinely cheerful—not to mention charming, he looks like pre-breakdown Mel Gibson—but that’s the fact of it, kids.  You might catch him hiking in Gallatin Canyon with his family one day, volunteering for BSF another, hanging with his buddies at Kagy Korner the next—flashing his own pearly whites all the while. Getting a cavity filled was never so pleasant.
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bozemans best award Best GP
Dr. Andrea Cady, MD
An overwhelming number of Bozemanites love and adore Bozeman Creek Family Health – but more specifically, Dr. Andrea Cady, M.D.  She has the much-appreciated-in-a-GP qualities of putting her patients at ease right off the bat as well as being personable and attentive. Another bonus is that she’s not located in the migraine-inducing maze of Deaconness—BCFA can be found on East Babcock, nestled between Bogert Park and Main Street.  Even more remarkable, Dr. Cady actually hails from Bozeman.
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bozemans best award Best Vet
Dr. Sarah Lavelle - ARK Veterinary Practice

CAUTION! This is an entirely subjective review. When on the road last Christmas, I was informed in a Chicago animal hospital that my dog’s sudden and alarming pulmonary condition would require a cost-unfathomable, low-chance-of-success surgery or… he recommended putting Spot down on the spot.  Crushed, to say the least, but I managed to get him home to recover thanks to the calming words and heady advice of a far-off veterinarian, Dr. Sarah.   As I type these words, Spot is curled up in his favorite spot by the woodstove.
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bozemans best award Best Big Box
REI/Bozeman
From last year’s Bozeman’s Best write-up, “For the remarkable outreach efforts of the REI – Bozeman store, particularly the jellybean selection of informative and free clinics organized by Teresa Larson, this is one big box retailer that has earned a pant-load of positive local acclaim.”  What’s changed?  Nada.  And second place barely fits the bill of runner-up.
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bozemans best award Best Hot Springs
Norris Hot Springs
The Magpie’s 2010 winner—and for many the runaway fave—Norris Hot Springs is the ultimate destination for relaxation. Immersing yourself in the big cuddly box of hot water while listening to bluegrass and enjoying a beverage can only be improved by the view and the passing wildlife. If it’s possible you need further convincing to visit Norris, take our word that it’s rustic, eclectic, and a soothing place to soak your bones. And for those fisherpersons or slednecks, Norris happens to be on the way back from some of the most conducive destinations in these here parts.
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bozemans best award Best Salon/Spa
The Loft
Y’want a massage with that? The most luxurious of a bountiful crop of Bozeman spas goes hands-down to the Loft, created in 2007 by a couple of Sage Spa escapees. It’s not just the lavender-ish entity that takes over when you walk through the doors, but every last feature makes you want to quit whatever you normally do and enter the rejuvenation business. Visit the Loft to get your hair and nails did, a massage, a facial, and unique jewelry.  Please note, come summer they’ll be moving a few blocks down and over Rockin’ R Bar.
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bozemans best award Best Mani/Pedi
A Diversify Nails

For the second year in a row, A Diversify Nails has won Best Mani/Pedi in a show-your-hands-and-feet vote.  Clearly it’s important to promote incredible grooming habits and to support locally owned and operated businesses.  But we are most-so-ever-completely-and-more thankful that Kenny and Co. provides the most fabulous manicures in town.  
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bozemans best award Best Place to Get Your Kink On
Erotique
Until our ship comes in and we open that shop we always wanted to call “Sex Machines", the best place in town to get your kink on is Erotique. Formerly Miss Kitty’s Adult Shop, this is the go-to for anyone planning a bachelorette party; where do you think all those phallus-shaped straws, hats, piñatas, and pasta came from? Bored marrieds? Come on in. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will candidly answer your questions and demonstrate the range of speeds on any mechanism with humiliation-dissolving frankness. Erotic + boutique = Erotique.
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bozemans best award Best Potentially Sinister Corporate Takeover
Oracle/RightNow

It’s not yet summer and massive worldly forces, axes of untold power and greed are again swirling the clouds.  This time, Bozeman is the LZ for inbound gunmen.  It started last fall when Oracle snatched up the golden goose of RightNow Technologies.  Hush-hush insiders foretell that June 1st marks the day when the tides will turn.  Though we have all hoped to avoid this, the immediate future looks bloody.  It’s hard to predict what color hat Larry Ellison will be wearing, but rest assured of this: the ultimate decision will be good for Larry.
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Best Culture
 
bozemans best award Best Art Gallery
tart
Since opening in 2007, Tart Gallery has taken Bozeman’s contemporary art scene to the next level.  Owner/Tartress Anna Visscher shows around 60 local and Montana artists in her gallery, located in the Emerson Cultural Center.  Tart offers a refreshing outlet for Bozeman art lovers.  And like any perfect pastry, the aptly named gallery balances sweetness in their prices with the sharp bite of exciting contemporary art.  You’ll come back for seconds, and thirds, and . . .
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bozemans best award Best Rainy Day Activity
Bozeman Public Library
Okay, they’ve got a ton of books.  But even if reading is not your thing, they also have DVDs and video players, a roomful of computers to use, a separated venue for the kiddos, conference rooms for public use, frequent presentations and group gatherings, a coffee shop, there’s even a building-block zone that’s so good it’ll get grizzled contractors thinking “in the family way.”  Cost per head for big ones, little ones, and tweeners is zero dollars and zero cents.  
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bozemans best award Best Place to get your boogie on (without tolerating Bar IX or having to wait for a reception)
Cardio Party at the Ridge with Trawckk

Poor Bozeman. When it comes to dancing, we’ve got squat. For the devoted, there’s little but braving the cramped, annoying bars or hoping that the next wedding involves a semi-peppy band…  Well, here’s the solution: Cardio Party at the Ridge with Trawckk! Her nickname might sound like a DJ crossbred with a dinosaur, but make no mistake, the fearless instructor will rock your world.  Grandmas go to town alongside 21-year-old college kids, toddlers wander in, people in wheelchairs stop in the hall to dance along, and other fitness instructors join in, too—this is officially Bozeman’s most underrated dancing experience.
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bozemans best award Best Live Music Venue
Lindley Park Bowl
Enjoying a quality band in the open air of summer sure beats an auditorium, which is the best of what other local performance venues boast. The “bowl” in Lindley Park is a natural arena of sorts where Sweet Pea Festival concert-goers sit on the grass or bring lawn chairs, taking as much room as needed. Folks can spread out, bring the dog and kids, a picnic, and make it a full-day affair…all without the hassles of assigned seating.
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bozemans best award Best Non-profit
Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Perhaps not ironically, the progressive thinker who conceived Main Street to the Mountains was a Californian. With a little help from his friends, the late Chris Boyd founded Gallatin Valley Land Trust in 1990. His vision of open space for all has been beyond successful; GVLT has designed more than 60 miles of trails and around Bozeman as well as conserved over 56 square miles of working farms and ranches, wildlife habitat, and open space in Gallatin Valley. Face it, Bozeman would not be Bozeman without the work of GVLT.
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bozemans best award Best Place for Morel Mushroom Foraging

Come closer… I’m gonna whisper it to you…closer…okay, I’ll only say this once:  I’d rather shave my own head with a pocket knife and eat the hair than tell you where I find my morels.
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bozemans best award Best New Plan for a Historic Landmark
The Bozeman Armory

Sure, we’ve heard all the scuffaws about how tall they want to build it.  Remember, the place was designed to be bomb-proof with over-reinforced, over-thick concrete everywhere, so it’s not like the structure can’t handle the weight.  The parking?  On crazy weekends, it’s a farther walk to the door at Target than it is from the armory to the new parking garage.  You read it here first—put down the Magpie team for a corner table the night you open that rooftop bar. [back to top]

 
bozemans best award Best Barn
In Bozeman, their numbers have been hunted down to the point of extinction.  Much too eager to divest our community of its western and agricultural roots, we’ve slayed every barn like dragons from the Dark Ages.  Of the remaining few, we couldn’t help but waffle at the fading Old Glory, the regional style (known as a Teton barn), and the continued utility of the structure.  Raised no doubt as barns always have been, by a group of people throwing in hands and tools together, no pole barn (or catalog house) could ever hope to compare.
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bozemans best award Best Music Festival of the Year
2011 Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Consider this:  a vibrant transplant to a yesteryear town ninety miles of sage from a commercial airport decides to throw a soiree.  She invites a few bands, tells her friends to tell their friends, and then tries to sell tickets.  How did this tale of small-town entrepreneurialism end?  Pretty much how you’d expect—several thousand people singing along with Lyle Lovett and his 17-piece band (all in black suits) under one of the loveliest Montana sunsets imaginable.  Red Ants Pants 2012: bring it on, Sarah Calhoun. 
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bozemans best award Best Bad Place to Walk on a Windy Day
The Bozeman Brewery Wall
When is a building too far gone to save?  Perhaps Julius Lehrkind's brewery wall on North Wallace was once a worthy cause, but the knot at the end of the rope was tied years ago when they inked the writ of execution for the building, and it’s only time before enough bluster comes along to blow the rest down.  Though there has been ample and deserved finger-pointing on all sides—owners, CoB, neighbors—it’s unrealistic to hope for a better outcome for a property that has become more obstacle that edifice. 
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Best Locals
 
bozemans best award Best Author
Glen Chamberlain

We’d had enough of bandwagon-jumping in the last few years, and we wanted to feature an author who wasn’t already a jaded millionaire (or a teenage millionaire).  Enter Glen Chamberlain.  First off, Glen is a she, which works for us, since glen is a lovely Scottish word for a valley, and don’t get lippy about it, Bozeman.  We hear the names you call out at the playgrounds… but I digress.  The point?  Check out this MSU professor’s latest, Conjugations of the Verb To Be.  Where to find it?  Yeah, Country Bookshelf—Bozeman’s Best Bookstore.
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bozemans best award Best Athlete to Win a National Title
Heather McPhie

Admittedly, it’s a short list, but McPhie won Bozeman’s Best Athlete in 2010, and we wanted to make the award a challenge this year.  For those who missed the updates, she D-spinned her way to another solid year on the World Cup mogul circuit, capping the season with a win at US Nationals in Stratton, VT.  McPhie said, “Being US Champion has definitely been on my bucket list a while,” leaving us to wonder what else she plans to do before reaching the ripe old age of 30.
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bozemans best award Best Artist
JC

Few local artists touch as many people as JC did this past year.  Her work strums the chord combining notes from Outsider and Folk Art.  Capturing the attention of modernists and traditionalists, the characters in JC’s painting express an authentic and passionate narrative of her life and her environment, while JC’s self-taught background invited all comers, it seemed.  The rich and bold color in her work represents a complexity rooted below the simpler compositions, allowing for everyone to enjoy their very own timeless and subjective story.
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bozemans best award Best Band
Storyhill

Bozeman’s own Simon and Garfunkel… just because they’re on the folkier side does not preclude them from rocking out.  Others listen to them holed up in their bedrooms, grounded, feeling that the deep lyrics were written just for them—it helps that Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson attended Bozeman Senior High only a few short years prior, don’t ya know. Storyhill now performs once a year or so in Bozeman, since they tour the country, spreading their poetry. A local’s test: raise your hand if you remember when they went by “Chris and Johnny”!
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bozemans best award Best Local Champion in the Fight against Big Agriculture
Dean Williamson

A former teacher and a vice president on the Community Food Co-op’s board of directors, Dean Williamson is the owner Three Hearts Farm, which lies in the dark soils between Bozeman and Belgrade.  The Three Hearts is a diversified vegetable farm where no chemicals are used and no genetic engineering allowed. Best patronized via the CSA—that’s “Community Supported Agriculture”—Dean and the Three Hearts also sell at local farmer’s markets, on the Field Day Farms website and at both Co-op locations in Bozeman.
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bozemans best award Best Jewelry Designer
Babs Noelle/Alara Jewelry
Chances are you’ve passed her place of business, as well as her loving and curly-coated pooch.  With a Master’s degree in jewelry design and crafting from Goldschmiedeschule Pforzheim in Germany, Babs Noelle has been designing jewelry and winning awards for 25 years. Renowned for her use of specialty Yogo sapphires and her ability to source and build unusual pieces rendered from local materials. Trust us—that glittery rock you found in Crystal Park will look even better once through the pan of Babs’s creative process.
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bozemans best award Best Octogenarian
Wendy Visscher
She’s the executive director of Bozeman’s Help Center, a beacon for those lost or traumatized in the rough seas of life, where respondents are trained in suicide prevention and sexual assault victim counseling.  Visscher’s 86 this year, she’s been the organization’s leader since 1975, and her life story is as compelling as any literature.  Look, if America really wanted an idol, we’d have Wendy TV.
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bozemans best award Best Local Media Personality
Dean Alexander

“So…that’s the deal.” Just four words, but this is the signature phrase of Dean Alexander, the unmistakable voice and hilarious co-host and commentator on KBOZ’s Dave Visscher Show. The Voice of the Bobcats for 25 years and media consultant - not to mention an illustrious but brief cameo in Amazing Grace and Chuck - Dean motivates us tune into FM 93.7 on the way to work on weekday mornings.  Much of this guy’s gab is truly side-splitting, and all the better for the off-the-cuff delivery.
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Best Culture
 
bozemans best award Best Celebrity Predator
Dr. Jack Horner

He’s the 65-year-old curator of the Paleo Lab at the Museum of the Rockies, a famous bone-digger, an insider to the Jurassic Park movie cavalcade, and a professor emeritus at MSU.  And in January of this year, he married Vanessa Shiann Weaver, 19, a student of paleontology at MSU, who listed herself as an intern at Horner’s Paleo Lab.  We’re pretty bummed to see another local icon take a nose-dive on the world stage, but it’s more distressing to witness as community pillars pretend his behavior is a non-issue.
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bozemans best award Best Cursed Downtown Restaurant Space
131 W. Main Street
Most recently occupied by 18 Miles to the Border, it seems that any occupant of this unfortunate space is doomed to fail. Smiler’s (a Thai restaurant) was great enough, but they didn’t make it. Yogurt Heaven was indeed heavenly, and it lasted quite a while, but also eventually went down. And why? Speculation abounds because the results are counter-intuitive, considering the location, slightly superior parking for a Main Street business, and the fact that people generally like food.  The recent theory pertains to the treatment of the late pine tree—whoever did that invited a bad omen.
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bozemans best award Best Under-loved Civic Venue
Willson Auditorium

This handsome and historic stage is housed in what was originally Gallatin County High School, designed in 1902 by the much-ballyhooed Fred Willson of Bozeman. In 110 years, the venue has held everything from international opera stars to three-year-old tap dancers, high school talent shows to ballets, rock concerts to political debates. But these days, the Willson Auditorium remains a mixture of the overlooked and unknown. If Widespread Panic can successfully play here (which yours truly witnessed in 1995), anyone can.
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bozemans best award Best Ridiculous Waste of Chronicle Ink
The Train Fiasco

As the coal industry and Montana Rail Link made no secret of their intentions to increase train traffic through Bozeman by 300%... after other major newspapers in the state had dutifully notified their readership months earlier… in a what appears to be a criminal attempt to bury the story of an impending health hazard…a particular irony came to light on March 11th when the BDC editors finally ran a leading story about trains—those pint-sized versions that the kiddies love. 
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bozemans best award Best Shady Gubernatorial Candidate
Neil Livingstone

All right, we’ll play nice for a moment with a quick ode to Governor Brian Schweitzer: as his term limit expires this fall, he leaves behind an approval rating that goes tens of points across party lines and a boom-time surplus in the state coffers.  Hats off.  Meanwhile, a candidate for his replacement is a former CIA spook with a VoTech degree in wetwork, back-alley deals and chummy schemes with madmen like Qaddafi.  Though the general population has much in common with Helena, Deer Lodge may be a better fit than the govenor’s mansion for a guy like Neil Livingstone.
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bozemans best award Best Most Abusive SuperPAC in Montana
American Tradition Partnership

ATP is a self-proclaimed “grassroots” lobbying organization that recently changed their name from Western Tradition Partnership.  Perhaps the former reference was to their office on the west end of K Street in Washington D.C., home to some of the most ostentatious slumlords on the planet.   What’s sure is that the ATP bloodsuckers sued Montana over state regulations limiting corporate campaign spending.  As of late May, 22 other states and the ATP’s own District of Columbia have signed on with Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock who’s taken the fight for democracy all the way to the steps of the United States Supreme Court. 
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bozemans best award Best Idiots Brandishing Lethal Weapon Story
Black Bear Bowhunting Duo
In early November, two MSU engineering students, Abdullah Yassin and Ahmad Mallalah, pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors in the killing of a two-year-old black bear with a compound bow.  That they shot the animal four times is sad enough, but the location of the killing illustrated the bottomless nature of their stupidity.  The black bear was gutted near South 3rd Avenue, an easy walk from downtown Bozeman. 
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bozemans best award Best Recent Example of an Energy Company Acting Horrendously in Montana
Exxon Mobil Oil Spill on the Yellowstone RIVER
In this country, the supreme objective is success.  And behind that is “happiness.”  And somewhere down the list, after “watching Mad Men reruns,” is “contentment.”  Screwed up as it is, that’s the game, and nobody is better at it than Exxon Mobil.  Seriously, this corporation is 2012’s #1 on the Forbes 500 list.  And how did they handle their largest gaffe last year, the July 1st oil spill of at least 54,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone, the nation’s largest undammed river?  With lies, damned lies, cover-ups, out-of-state cleanup crews, and bullying.  You know, all the things we teach our kids not to do.
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bozemans best award Best Fabulously Expensive Civic Plan without Objectives
Open Lands
Endless trails and soccer fields for everyone, dogs and cats and pot-bellied pigs square-dancing as blonde children learn to kayak and fish in gurgling streams nearby.  What’s not to love, right?   For starters, it gives the City a $15-million-dollar slush fund, which reminds us of the South Church house they were freakishly eager to buy.  Also, the proposal extends a lot of trust for equal treatment, and if you need an example of that trust squandered, consider that as Bogert Park reclines for yet another facelift, North Rouse residents feel helpless with 3” of water in their kitchen.
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