On a recent afternoon the office was quiet. Votes from our Readers’ Survey in January had been tallied, winners interviewed and all information gathered, and the editorial team was in full-on writing and editing mode. Heads were down and computer keys were humming ... and then I burst out laughing.
I couldn’t help it. I had just read our write-up for Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn, our winner in the Northern region for Best Seafood Restaurant, and learned that its signature oyster is called the Wicked Pissah—a sweet-finishing bivalve raised exclusively for Ford’s on the Eastern Shore. And I didn’t just chuckle at the sassy name (I love it!); I enjoyed a long, deep belly laugh that still has me smiling. I couldn’t help but think the kind of place that has enough cheek to come up with such a fun name is the kind that takes a lot of pride in its product—now that is a business I want to know about. And that’s the reason we publish Best of Virginia—to spread the word among our fellow Virginians and visitors to our great state about where to find the best restaurants, events, museums, charities, hospitals, interior designers, attorneys and more.
Thank you Virginia, for helping to make this, our 5th Best of Virginia issue, happen. You outdid yourselves. Nearly 40,000 ballots were cast in 100 categories—the most we’ve ever had. Inside you’ll find our nearly 1,500 winners in categories you’ve seen before as well as some that are new. Last year you told us you’d like to see Best Med Spa and Best Italian Restaurant, so we added them (plus a few more). You also told us you’d like to be able to write in categories of your own, so we did that too, and introduced a Readers’ Choice in our Shopping & Services section. What a great idea. We hadn’t thought of Best Bull Riding, or Best Stretch of Road, but you did, and our issue is the richer for it.
As you’ve noticed, we did something else for the first time this year. Sonda Andersson Pappan, our fantastic art director, used illustration to bring to life this year’s theme—entertainment. Alongside our winners are stories about famous actors, singers and dancers who hail from the Old Dominion, of-the-moment musical groups and Grammy winners, top performing arts companies and venues new and old, as well as tips for upcoming events in film, theater, opera, comedy, dance and more. From the sultry torch singer on our cover to the Bob Fosse-inspired dancers and mysterious magician in our region openers, Andersson Pappan and the award-winning Patrick Faricy, who is known for his pulp style illustrations, have created a beautiful and distinctive visual journey inspired by the glamour and sophistication of iconic mid-century entertainment.
It takes the entire Cape Fear Publishing team to bring you Best of Virginia—from sales and circulation to creative services and accounting, even Cutty and Rex, our publisher’s Springer Spaniels who arrive for work every day happy to take up their duties as directors of office morale. Thank you everyone, for your hard work. We are all proud to share Best of Virginia 2016 with you, our readers, now.
The issue is out, so it’s time for us to begin planning for next year, but first, I’m going to see about some Wicked Pissahs.