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Best-Kept Secret

The Gregg Museum of Art & Design

Finalists: Munjo Munjo, Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center, Lady Kathana – Bard

Best Local Activist Group

Eno River Association

Finalists: Livable Raleigh, Durham Beyond Policing, Democracy North Carolina, The Successful Business Women

Best Local Band / Musician

Stray Volts

Finalists: Sylvan Esso, Sadie Rock and the Mad Ryans, Gnarley Nick

Best Local Do-Gooder

Wanda Hunter of Raleigh

Finalists: Greg Bell, Jamie Tripp, Meme Bernholz

Best Local Facebook Page

Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies

Finalists: Bites of Bull City, Livable Raleigh, BullCityEscape

Best Local Instagram Account

Munjo Munjo

This Raleigh-based design studio bills itself as a seller of “collaborative goods for overgrown children.” Most distinctive are its anime-inspired T-shirts, pins, and stickers, but the company has sold everything from mugs to plants to dog treats while promoting the work of local artists, especially women and BIPOC artists. That ethos and delivery help explain why Munjo Munjo is a past winner in our “Best Local Brand” category. This year, the shop’s social media branding garnered love from voters. It’s hard to know exactly what readers enjoy most about their Instagram account. But honestly, any feed offering a steady stream of adorable dog photos has a leg up. But aside from cuteness, the shop’s IG has a nice mix of event posters, thoughtful product layouts, and just plain funny memes. We’re fans.—GW 

Finalists: Bites of Bull City, NC Small Towns Local Love @carrboro-chapelhill-foodies, Hillsborough Gallery of Arts

Best Local Politician in Need of a Reality Check

Thom Tillis

Finalists: Mark Robinson, Mary-Ann Baldwin, Phil Berger

Best Local Radio Station

WUNC 91.5

Finalists: 88.1 WKNC, 95.7 FM That Station, 97.9 WCHL

Best Local Resident Author

Lee Smith

Finalists: Allan Gurganus, Monica Byrne, John Claude Bemis

Best Local Twitter Feed

Bites of Bull City

In the increasingly depressing and divisive cesspool that is Twitter, the Bites of Bull City account, with its mouthwatering food photos and tidbits of restaurant news, is a breath of fresh air. Each tweet is like a spoonful of sorbet, sweetening your day and cleansing your palate from the hostility of the digital public square, and unlike most news-centric accounts, Bites of Bull City unifies the community instead of polarizing it. The account is an outgrowth of Amber Watson’s Bites of Bull City blog, which has covered Durham’s booming food scene for the past seven years. Food bloggers usually reserve their content for visual mediums like Instagram or Pinterest, so Watson’s win in this category speaks to the fact that she’s not your run-of-the-mill influencer—she’s a talented writer and reporter, providing crucial, comprehensive coverage for businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.—LG

Finalists: @durhamnc, Durham Mom @mom-had, @majorthebull

Best Local-Interest / Website Blog


Finalists: Livable Raleigh, Bites of Bull City, Today in the Quay

Best Place to Hike

Eno River State Park

While the Triangle isn’t home to many towering mountains or mountainous terrain, the Eno River State Park is the best destination for a scenic hike—especially if you want to follow it with a refreshing river swim! Eno River Park has almost 28 miles of trails right through the heart of it—enjoy a hike up Cox Mountain or a walk on the Bobbit Hole Trail which leads to one of the most breathtaking spots on the river. Occoneechee Mountain also makes for a great, steep hike along the river that culminates in a fantastic view at the top. Make the Eno your Everest this summer as you hike, swim, hike, and repeat!—HK

Finalists: William B. Umstead State Park, Duke Forest, Al Buehler Trail

Best Place to People Watch

NC State Fair

Forget the glowing Ferris wheel, mouth-watering funnel cake, and dazzling drop tower. While the lit-up, deep-fried sights of the NC State Fair are arguably some of the best autumn attractions, the fairground has an even more intriguing (and less costly) spectacle to witness: the people. Whether they’re eating, riding, paying, laughing, waiting, or eating again, the North Carolinians who attend the state fair are one-of-a-kind. So grab a donut-burger (it’s a burger between two donuts), find a bench right in the middle of the hustle and bustle, locate your first victim (maybe it’s the lady who’s wearing what looks like a wedding dress as she tries fruitlessly to win a stuffed animal, or the kid who’s tackling an entire turkey leg on his own), and watch. You’ll learn something new about the people around you, the culture of our state, and the simple but beloved traditions that drive us to buy a fair ticket year after year.—HK

Finalists: American Tobacco Campus, RDU Airport, The Raleigh Market, Riverwalk Hillsborough

Best Place to Run

American Tobacco Trail

Finalists: Umstead Park, Al Beuhler Trail, Bolin Creek Trail

Best Place to Take Visitors from Out of Town

Duke Gardens

Finalists: NCMA, The Raleigh Market, Munjo Munjo

Best Politician in Durham County

David Price

Finalists: Nida Allam, Mike Woodard, Jillian Johnson

Best Politician in Orange / Chatham County

David Price

Finalists: Graig Meyer, Jen Weaver, Danny Nowell

Best Politician in Wake County

David Price

What does it say about the state of American politics when the most popular politician in town is a guy who’s retiring from politics? That’s not to say U.S. Representative David Price isn’t beloved or deserving. A thoughtful and reliable progressive, the 81-year-old lifelong Democrat has represented North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District for more than three decades after he was first elected in 1986. (He lost his congressional seat in 1994 but won it back two years later.) In Washington, he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, shaped legislation to make student loan interest payments tax-deductible, and championed a host of democratic reform bills targeting the insidious influence of special interest and dark money in politics. An author, a scholar, and a statesman, he served the Triangle well.—GW

Finalists: Deb K. Ross, Councilor David Cox, Erin Pare

Best Reason to Love the Triangle

The People and Community

Finalists: Arts and Culture, Diversity, Nature

Best Reason to Leave the Triangle

Cost of Housing

Finalists: Overdevelopment, Traffic, Gentrification

Best Use of Public Money

Affordable Housing

Well, Meta is coming to town. Apple too, and Google is already here. This week, a local real estate expert said we could expect to see California-level housing prices in the Triangle in the next 10 to 15 years, and if that’s not incentive enough for our local municipal and county leaders to start planning to invest far more heavily in affordable housing, I don’t know what would be. Historic underbuilding in cities across the country for the past several decades has led to a severe housing shortage and an affordability crisis. It’s no different in one of the nation’s fastest-growing metros, but arguably, we’re feeling the effects here more severely. The people who live in the Triangle already want more housing that they can afford, that much is clear. And if we don’t want cities full of the uber-rich, the only kind of people who may, one day, be able to afford to live here—not to mention a lot more unhoused people than we have currently—we better start making those serious public investments now. Otherwise, we’ll have more in common with Silicon Valley and the Bay Area than just the pleasant climate.—JP

Finalists: Transportation Options, Raleigh Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Safety

Biggest Waste of Public Money

Tax Breaks for Developers

Finalists: Police, New Raleigh Municipal Building, Wake County Public School System

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