Inaugural ‘Best of Iron County’ competition to celebrate uniqueness of a bold region

CEDAR CITY — Built on the backs of iron ore miners, farmers and bold entrepreneurs, the people of Iron County are proud of the communities they’ve raised, and they know exactly what it takes to be the best. And now they have the ultimate chance to let their voices be heard.

Cedar Heritage and Livestock Festival’s sheep parade, Cedar City, Utah, Oct. 26, 2019 | File photo by Jeff Richards, Cedar City News

Nominations for the inaugural “Best of Iron County” competition — sponsored by Cedar City News, its parent company Canyon Media and title sponsor Brian K. Tavioan Family Dentistry — are set to begin Feb. 24. for the absolute best businesses in the region. From the best primary care doctor to the perfect place for a prime rib dinner, hundreds of services have an opportunity to be showcased.

“It’s a great area that deserves something like this,” Canyon Media General Manager Ben Lindquist said. “They have world-class festivals, great entertainment and an incredible university. We wanted to do something for them, something that highlights the community and the great businesses that are there.”

Nominations, which are always free, can be submitted on the Best of Iron County website through March 11 for a variety of categories, including Shopping, Professional Services and Food & Drink, with subcategories for each type.

Known as “Festival City, USA,” more than 1 million people annually pass through Iron County’s biggest city, Cedar City, and whether it’s to pay a visit to nearby Cedar Breaks National Monument or catch a play during the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival, Lindquist said everyone wants to know the best places to stop while they’re in town.

“Whether it’s the tourists coming in for skiing, for the festivals or for education, or the locals who haven’t tried a restaurant they didn’t know about, tell us what makes Iron County the very best,” he said. “Those are the types of things we want to highlight.”

Cedar City News recently opened a dedicated office in town, with a full-time staff of sales representatives and three reporters. Lindquist said with 99.9 KONY being the No. 1 listened-to radio station in Southern Utah, they have always had a commitment to the region, but over the last couple of years, they have endeavored to find ways to serve the Iron County residents better.

He said that everyone really enjoyed being part of the Best of Southern Utah competition but that Iron County also deserved their own dedicated platform to celebrate what makes them great.

This sentiment was echoed by President of News Operations for Cedar City News Shane Brinkerhoff, who said that after the highly successful launch of Best of Southern Utah in 2019, they received a lot of feedback from businesses in Iron County that felt like they didn’t get a chance to participate and asked for a competition they could call their own.

They have a completely different respect and feel for their own businesses, Brinkerhoff said.

“We thought it was important to have a competition distinctly for Iron County, so business owners, employees, customers and fans have the ability to nominate their favorite.”

With almost 1,000 business nominated for the Best of Southern Utah last year and 270,000 votes cast, Lindquist and Brinkerhoff are hoping for a similar response from Iron County residents. Who runs the best bait and tackle shop? Where are the best places for entertainment? Who is the most trusted mechanic to fix an ATV or the most gentle dentist? Everyone should have a shot at being highlighted for their success, Brinkerhoff said.

“Nominations are important. Make sure you nominate your business,” he said. “Tell your friends, talk with your families. … Get the word out.”

As with any competition, credibility is vital, and as such, the entire voting process will handled by a third party, which keeps everything above-board. Lindquist said there is no way someone can pull any tricks or manipulate votes.

“You want to make sure that you’ve got a company that can handle the voting and that can do it in a way that is easy and convenient for the voter – and ultimately, protect against any voter fraud.”

The most important element for both the website and forthcoming magazine later this spring, he said, is that the competition recognizes the uniqueness of Iron County and the wonderful family-run businesses ingrained in those communities.

“It really does deserve to be celebrated and find the very best of Iron County.”

Nominations will run from Feb. 24 to March 11. Voting will begin on March 16 and will conclude April 3.

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