hen we devised the theme for 2021’s Best of Central Oregon issue some months back, we imagined a world where the pandemic was truly starting to be behind us—where the community would be celebrating the return of a more carefree way of life. The phoenix—which we employed for this year’s theme—is, of course, a classic symbol of rebirth, of walking through the fire and re-emerging as a better version.
While the pandemic is most definitely not behind us—and with wildfire smoke lingering in the air—there are still so many challenges before us, and what we can hold onto going forward is that vision of a life renewed, of us all re-emerging better than we were before.
With our Best of Central Oregon issue, the community comes out in droves to vote for the businesses, nonprofits and individuals that they believe are worthy of some extra recognition and love this year. In a period that continues to be so dark, we like to think that our “Best Of” awards offer some sunshine. Thousands of you voted, and close to 200 local people and businesses reaped the results.
This year we’ve added a host of new categories, including Best Breakfast Burrito (added after we polled readers about what new category they wanted most), Best Coffee Shop, Best Falafel and Best Fried Chicken. With Redmond’s growth, the town added more categories, including Best Fitness Studio and Best Happy Hour. Also, Redmond, Sisters and Sunriver, as well as Bend, got a new Best Lodging category.
To pay homage to the many hardworking tradespeople in our community, we’ve also added Best Painting Company, Best Law Firm, Best Plumber, Best House Cleaner, Best Pest Control, Best Oil Change and Best Pediatric Dental Group. We’ve also broadened our art offerings to include Best Place to Buy Art. And of course, we have a little fun with a few “Staff Picks” that we invented in response to local happenings.
We have more challenges before us, to be sure. But with this issue, we hope you spend a few minutes in celebration of the richness and resilience of the Central Oregon community!
Click on the categories below to see the winners in individual categories. To see second-place winners, click on individual posts!