ITHACA, NY -- It’s that time again — our readers have voted on their favorite people, places and businesses in our annual Best of Ithaca issue. Is this bigger than the Oscars? Hard to say, but even those with an EGOT don’t have an Ithaca Times Best of Ithaca award, so we’ll let you draw your own conclusions. This year we included some returning categories like Best New Business, Best Local Band and Best Theatre Production, and introduced some new ones like Best Place to Bring Your Dog and Best (legal) Swimming Spot. If there are any categories you’d like to see included next year, feel free to reach out to us.
Best Local Radio Show: Reggae Explosions
Reggae Explosions is hosted by DJ Mike Judah every Thursday, 10 a.m. until noon on WICB.org. DJ Mike Judah said: “It is such an honor to receive this award for a second time! Hosting Reggae Explosions each and every week brings me so much joy. My goal is to spread Love and Good Vibes over the airwaves. I also want to thank my International listeners as well. Sending me messages from all over the world as far as South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Costa Rica, Tijuana Mexico, up and down the west coast from Seattle Washington to San Diego California. Much Love and Gratitude. Tune in at 92 WICB on your FM dial or find me on iHeartRadio by searching WICB on Thursday’s from 10 a.m.-noon. Big Up y’all!”
Best local DJ: Chris Washburn and Tori Vee
Chris Washburn: “I’m honored and especially grateful to share this with Tori Vee! I wouldn’t have the success I have today without the love and support from my wife, Megan Washburn, and the rest of the WE DJ team including Tori, DJ Dray and fellow Best Of Ithaca DJ Winner from 2020, DJ Devan (aka Doughboy). I’m lucky to have such a talented team around me, but what makes them even better is that they are extraordinary people and we are a family! What makes this award extra special is that I didn’t promote or ask a single person to vote, so the results came organically from people that genuinely felt this way. Thank you Ithaca Times and I’ll always have lots of love for the Ithaca community, Ithaca College, and Ithaca will always be HOME.”
Tori Vee: “I had no idea I was meant to DJ until Chris [Washburn] saw something in me that I had not yet seen in myself. So when I step onto the decks, I want people to feel safe, connected, and above all, joyful when they’re on my dancefloor. A couple of my favorite moments are when I cut out the music and hear people scream-singing to the chorus of a song that everyone knows and jumping out from behind the decks to dance with everyone on the dancefloor. I want people to experience that blissful nostalgia of being 16 again, driving around with friends, singing at the top of their lungs, and laughing. In my mind, being a DJ is more than pressing buttons or spinning vinyl (although mechanically, those are pretty important); we are the vessel for music as a means of catharsis for people to create positive, memorable moments.”
Best Theatre Performance: “Sweeney Todd” (Hangar Theatre)
The Hangar hosted a full summer season at its outdoor theater this summer to provide better protection against COVID-19 spread. Marketing director Thena Lindhorst said: “We were so excited to be able to safely bring back live theatre at the Hangar Theatre, on our brand new outdoor stage! Nik Walker (Sweeney Todd), Donna Lynne Champlin (Mrs. Lovett), and our entire cast were absolutely incredible in our production of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ and truly captivated every audience. Thank you to the Ithaca community for your support through this show, and our entire 2021 Outdoor season.”
Best Local Band: The Destination
The Destination is a nine-piece dance band with its musical focus on the classics: R&B, rock and Latin influenced material. Outstanding vocalists, horns, bass, percussion and keyboard set this group apart from virtually every other group in the CNY area. No other group in the area can match the dynamics and crowd motivating force of The Destination.
Best Solo Artist: Danny Gone
A street performer for nearly 15 years, Danny Gone usually sets up away from the hustle and bustle of the Commons. You can often find him on Elmira Road, near Five Guys or Taco Bell or maybe Chipotle.
Best Gallery: State of the Art Gallery
The State of the Art Gallery is a cooperative fine art gallery operated by its artist-members from the Finger Lakes region of New York. As a non-profit organization, SoAG seeks to enhance the cultural and economic vitality of the community; twice a year, the gallery holds exhibitions for non-member artists. SoAG is open four days per week and exhibits change monthly in each of the two galleries. The gallery has been in business since 1989, and currently there are 25 members. The gallery welcomes applications from artists in all media from the local Finger Lakes region and applications are reviewed every month. Interested artists can get information at www.soagithaca.org.
Best Book by a Local Author: Charlotte’s Web
The classic children’s novel tells the story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. The story was written by E. B. White, who earned his bachelor of arts degree at Cornell University.