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The last week of October 1994, after turning a year old, the Independent unveiled its first-ever Best Of Colorado Springs awards.

That initial effort filled 20 pages, with readers choosing winners in 112 categories. Some recipients remain familiar today: "Politician Deserving a Kick in the Butt," Douglas Bruce; "New Place," Phantom Canyon; "Sandwich," Wooglin's Deli; "TV Anchor," KKTV's Sandra Mann (now a District 11 school board member); "Place to Haggle for Antiques," Ross Auction; and "Best Country/Western Club," Cowboys.

Best Of created an instant uproar, as vice president/retail Teri Homick recalls. (She was among the original staff members.)

"Everybody thought it was rigged, but it wasn't," she says. "Before long, though, people began to understand, and it became a much bigger deal."

This week, we unveil the first half of our 15th annual Best Of awards (starting here), and it's an even bigger deal now. We had about 5,400 reader votes this year, deciding 213 categories. This issue, we fill 64 pages with the best in restaurants, bars and nightlife; next week, we'll look at retail stores, politicians, artists and a smattering of area attractions.

We've been copied by others, but nobody comes remotely close in size or reader participation. And we're proud of that.

  • We had about 5,400 reader votes this year, deciding 213 categories.

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