John Paul Jones Arena
Runner-up: nTelos Wireless Pavilion
Size does matter. At least, that’s true when it comes to where you go to see your favorite acts. This year, the likes of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Bob Dylan graced the stage. Downtown, the former Charlottesville Pavilion welcomed Sheryl Crow, ZZ Top and Arcade Fire, among others.

The Paramount Theater
Runner-up: The Jefferson Theater
There just aren’t enough places in the world where you can watch Pink Floyd The Wall in a neoclassically designed theater from 1931. We suspect that’s why you chose the Paramount as your favorite small venue this year—it’s a charming blend of old and new, with a hefty dose of cultural intelligence.

Dave Matthews Band
Runner-up: The Avett Brothers
It’s no surprise DMB takes the win in this new category. It has two unfair advantages: The band’s a hometown favorite and it doubled its chances of winning last fall by adding an extra date to the John Paul Jones stop on its last (until 2012?) concert tour. In the runner-up spot, another man band: The Avett Brothers strummed their way through a show at the then-Charlottesville Pavilion in October 2010.

The X Lounge
Runner-up: The Box
A few ingredients must combine to concoct the ideal dance spot: booze, low lighting and a decent beat bouncing from the speakers. You know X Lounge has all three, which is why you voted it into the top spot again this year. Your runner-up requires a tighter squeeze when it comes to busting a move, but the recipe for best place to dance is still spot-on.

Mellow Mushroom
Runner-up: McGrady’s Irish Pub
If you play your cards right, you could show off your trivia chops in this town practically every night of the week. But you say Wednesday and Tuesday, respectively, are the best nights ’round these parts. In one corner, Mellow Mushroom, where a win gets you tons of local schwag. In the other, McGrady’s, with seven LCD TVs for your viewing (and playing) pleasure.

McGuffey Art Center
Runner-up: Second Street Gallery
You’ll find book arts, dance, theater, fabric, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, drawing and sculpture at McGuffey. With so much to see, it’s no wonder more than 7,000 folks pass through the former McGuffey School each year. Contemporary artspace Second Street (the oldest nonprofit artspace in Central Virginia) takes, um, second place.

Baja Bean Co.
Runner-up: Fellini’s #9
We admire your chutzpah, reader. It takes serious guts to get up there every Tuesday and Thursday and give your all to The Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.” Again this year, you say Baja Bean is tops when it comes to belting it out for the crowd. Over at Fellini’s, Retrospective Collective provides live-band background music for ’aoke-ers every Thursday from 10pm-1am.

Wild Wing Café
Runner-up: Boylan Heights
What do this category’s winner and runner-up both have in common (besides a dee-lish menu and all the brew your sports-loving heart could desire)? TVs! Amtrak-adjacent Wild Wing boasts 32, plus surround sound. And Boylan’s boob tube count totals 20. What’s more, the bartender will accommodate your request for specific games. Talk about backing your play. 


Runner-up: Miller’s

When you set out to cut, draw and angle, you head to Rapture, where the beer is cold and you’ve got two floors of pool tables from which to choose. A little further down the Mall, Miller’s provides another dark bar backdrop for those late-night games.

Virginia Film Festival
Runner-up: Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival
There’s no shortage of festivals in this town. Vegetarian, chocolate, book, photography, opera—you’d be hard pressed to find an event that doesn’t pique at least one of your interests. The Virginia Film Festival, a fall fest which last year brought the premiere of ballet-thriller Black Swan to the local big screen, takes No. 1 this year. The Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival, now in its 31st year, takes place twice a year at Claudius Crozet Park.

Critter Ball (SPCA)
Runner-up: Gala (Live Arts)
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that furry animals always win. And the Critter Ball, which raises funds for the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, is no exception. Last year’s featured a Beatles theme and a “Dancing with the Stars”-like competition, where local figures took to the dance floor after ballroom dance training to compete for donations. Downtown, the 19th annual Live Arts Gala raged on to raise money for the community theater’s upcoming season.

The Local
Runner-up: Fellini’s #9
As a songwriter, it’s no doubt pretty important to you to share your tunes with a captivated crowd. Every Monday, that dream becomes a reality at The Local. Backed by Brian Caputo and a few other local musicians, you’re able to take the stage and sing ’til your heart’s content. (Or until they yank you off with a cane.)

Vinegar Hill Theatre
Runner-up: Regal Downtown Mall 6
Over the years, we’ve called Vinegar Hill convenient, unique and charming. Luckily, some things never change. The pint-size movie spot continues to woo you with its Downtown location, cheap ticket prices (hey, $9 is cheap in our book) and independent film choices. In second place, the Downtown Regal offers you a few more movie choices and discounted popcorn for Regal Crown Club members.


Readers agree Devon Sproule’s got a way with words. She’s your pick for best singer/songwriter this year.

Devon Sproule
Runner-up: William Walter
Good thing we got local songstress Devon Sproule on this list one last time—she and hubby Paul Curreri are jetting across the pond to Berlin (Germany, not Virginia) this fall, where she’ll be closer to her European fan base and will, no doubt, end up on a few “Best of” lists over there, too. Last year’s winner, William Walter, takes the No. 2 spot. 

Sons of Bill
Runner-up: Parachute
Crozet-bred boy band Sons of Bill takes home the win this year, edging out stiff competition from the likes of runner-up Parachute and last year’s winner, William Walter & Co. These local rockers have been busy touring the country’s middle (to Austin, Texas, for South by Southwest) and back again (for Campout East in their hometown). Parachute’s been busy too, promoting the latest album, The Way It Was, with TV appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

William Walter
Runner-up: James Wilson
There are only two things you need in a winning front man: good looks and a great voice. This year, you say William Walter, of William Walter & Co., has what it takes. But Sons of Bill’s front man (and perennial winner in this category) isn’t too far behind. His blue eyes and Southern drawl secure the runner-up spot.

Phantom of the Opera (Albemarle High School)
Runner-up: The Drowsy Chaperone (Live Arts)

It takes a strong bunch of performers to beat out Live Arts, a perennial winner in the Best Theater Group category (which was left off the ballot this year). The Albemarle Players take the cake in this new category, after a slew of superb performances from the likes of Jeremy Weiss (“The Phantom”), Halley Gilbert (“Christine Daae”) and Rives Gentry (“Raoul Vicomte de Chagny”), among others. LA nabs second place with another musical, directed by Ray Nedzel.

Sharon Shapiro
Runner-up: Lee Alter
What has Sharon Shapiro been up to since her win in this category last year? She hopped down to Georgia, carrying out a residency at The Hambridge Center and participating in two shows at local GA galleries. In other words, she’s keeping busy. As for your runner-up, a newcomer this year, she’s been working on portraits of musicians. Rock on, ladies.

Cody Purvis
Runner-up: Carl Anderson
Apparently it takes a little longer to emerge as a performer than we thought, since Cody Purvis wins once again this year. What’s Cody been up to since taking home the trophy last year? A joint show with Down Til Now at The Jefferson and an opening gig for Lee Ann Womack tops his to-do list.


That’s a tall tail! Thomas Givens’ sculptures on the 250 Bypass are worth a second look, readers say.

“Whale Tail Trio” at Meadowbrook Heights and 250 Bypass
Runner-up: “A Bad Case of the Mondays” at 250 Bypass
Like people, some stretches of road are simply artier than others. In this town, that road is the 250 Bypass, where you can catch a glimpse of this category’s winner (Thomas Givens’ three mahogany and epoxy fiberglass whale tails) and runner-up (Rob Tarbell’s metal working man).

Sarah Cramer Shields
Runner-up: Jen Fariello
These days, any Tom, Dick or Harry with a point-and-shoot thinks he’s a photographer. In reality, it takes real talent to see something truly photo-worthy and you say these shutter-happy ladies—both wedding photographers with a keen eye for capturing special moments—are up to the task again this year.

106.1 (The Corner)
Runner-up: 91.9 (WNRN)
It’s true; different really is good. While other radio stations continue to hit Repeat on “Rolling in the Deep” and “Dog Days are Over,” 106.1 takes listeners to another level, playing lesser-knowns like Billy Preston and Sara Jarosz (though Adele and Florence and the Machine aren’t too far away). We’ll leave the constant Top 40 repetition to those other stations. They wouldn’t know good music if it bit ‘em on the—well, you know.

Brad Savage
Runner-up: Jay James

When you wake up to the same person every morning, it becomes a bit…monotonous. Luckily, 106.1 music man Brad Savage never lets things get boring. Savage plays everything from Eddie Vedder to Diego Garcia (with a little Coldplay thrown in for good measure). WINA Sports Director Jay James, whose “Best Seat in the House” program takes to the airwaves every weeknight from 6 to 8pm, takes the runner-up slot.

Mas to Millers
Runner-up: edible cville
With more than 300 restaurants in Charlottesville and its surrounding counties, we’re not surprised readers are food-focused beyond their tummies, too. When you’re hungry, you feast your eyes on Mas to Millers, which this year added a few extra writers to round out its local restaurant coverage and edge out 2010 winner edible cville. Maybe what they say is true: Two (or more) heads really are better than one.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Runner-up: Humpback Rocks
Seventy-five years old as of last year and the longest single unit road in the United States, the Blue Ridge Parkway spans 29 counties and 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina. You’re fond of every last one of ’em, but single out the self-guided trail from mileposts 5 through 9.3, Humpback Rocks, for your runner-up in this new category.


Trippple Play may not win any spelling bees, but readers say he’s tops when it comes to live DJing.

DJ Trippple Play
Runner-up: Derek Tobler
Music so nice, he plays it thrice? Not hardly. Trip’s beats are fresh, which is why you voted him—a regular entertainer at The Box—the best in town. Runner-up Derek Tobler can be found pumping up the jam at weddings, corporate events and other parties around the area.

Leah Woody
Runner-up: Dan Eichelberger

Leah Woody told us earlier this year that she got into stand-up comedy because “It was my New Year’s resolution to do more things that scare the shit out of me.” Not to sound unsupportive, but we hope she never gets too brave, and you readers agree, as you gave her top billing in this new category.



Entertainment intro video by Okay Yellow


John Paul Jones Arena
Runner-up: Charlottesville Pavilion
The bigger the better, we always say. Apparently, that’s what you say, too, as JPJ—the biggest of this town’s big venues—wins again. Headliners like Phish, Jimmy Buffett and Taylor Swift surely have something to do with the arena’s popularity, but with a capacity of just over 15,000, we figure sheer size is what has kept the JPJ a nose above runner-up Charlottesville Pavilion three years in a row. For more information on this winner, click here.


Under the radar and dreaming: William Walter has risen from the "emerging" slot into a full-on winner in two musical categories.

William Walter
Runner-up: Devon Sproule
Clearly, you folks already know that William Walter can pen some catchy tunes (see Best Musical Group). But, did you know that he’s also a renaissance man? By day, Walter owns WTW Development, a contracting firm that assists in commercial and residential builds. And your runner-up? Well, she’s a full-time, internationally appreciated songstress, and she’s eyeing the winner’s circle after a two-year absence. 
Runner-up: R2
After its 2009 win for Sexiest Atmosphere, X-Lounge takes the prize this year as the best place to get your groove on. Is it the comforting low-lighting on the dance floor? Does the curtain at the front door make you feel like a VIP? Maybe you dig the urban cool lavatories. Whatever the case, X-Lounge has you hooked like a techno beat. For more information on this winner, click here.

McGuffey Art Center
Runner-up: Second Street Gallery
Sure, McGuffey’s a great place to look at art. But it offers so much more: Stop in to see one of the 45 resident artists doing their thang, visit the gift shop, where you can take home member artists’ original creations, or even take a watercolor class with local master Lee Alter (and that’s just one example). Second Street Gallery, with its commitment to showcasing contemporary pieces from national markets, takes the runner-up spot again this year. For more information on this winner, click here.

Runner-up: McGuffey Art Center
If it’s art you want, this town has got it. Whether it’s the giant zipper on the 250 bypass, the oversized daffodils on Monticello Avenue or the now-defunct Whale Tail, you say the City Council-backed nonprofit meets your out-there visual needs.

Mellow Mushroom
Runner-up: McGrady’s Irish Pub
Question: In 1974, what local pizza chain opened its first shop in Atlanta? Answer: Isn’t it obvious? Clearly you like questions that pack more challenge, which is why you voted Mellow Mushroom the prizewinner this year. For those who want to answer the tough questions but prefer fish and chips to Funky Q Chicken pizza, McGrady’s is a close second. For more information on this winner, click here.

Baja Bean Co.
Runner-up: Fellini’s #9
Karaoke first came to the Bean in 2001, when karaoke jockey Steve Miller joined the team. Nine years later, Tuesday night at Baja beats any place in town to belt out “I Will Always Love You” to an audience of strangers. In the runner-up spot is Fellini’s #9, where Retrospective Collective will accompany your every note on Thursday nights.  For more information on this winner, click here.

Wild Wing Café
Runner-up: Boylan Heights
Charlottesville’s most rail-friendly sports bar, Wild Wing Café boasts 29 TVs perfect for game-watchin’. It’s no wonder they took the prize this year. Coming in second and providing some stiff competition is Boylan Heights, with nine fewer TVs but all the enthusiasm.  For more information on this winner, click here.


My city was gone: Edward Thomas says many of his paintings are "things that are about to go away."

Edward Thomas
Runner-up: Sharon Shapiro
Swooping in with his hyper-local, plein air style, landscape painter Edward Thomas steals the win this year. Former reigning queen, portraitist Sharon Shapiro who had won for three years, isn’t far behind.
Fridays After 5
Runner-up: Crozet Music Festival
We ’villians work hard to bring home the (certified organic) bacon and fry it in a pan. But, we also like to let loose. Enter Fridays After 5, summer’s free weekly local concert series. And this year’s runner-up? The Crozet Music Festival. The newcomer to Best Of throws together nearly 50 bands to rock western Albemarle for three long October days. 

Live Arts Gala
Runner-up: Artini
If you’re looking to see and be seen, readers say there’s no better place to get your mingle on than at the exclusive $250-a-head Live Arts Gala. Fire breathers, aerialists and local celebrities alike come out to donate to the Downtown theater and mix with Charlottesville’s well-to-do. In second place, Second Street Gallery’s smokin’ hot dance party, Artini. 

Vinegar Hill Theatre
Runner-up: Regal Downtown Mall 6
There’s no shortage of movie theaters in this town, but, year after year, Vinegar Hill Theatre and Regal Downtown Mall 6 come out on top. We suspect these two venues beat out the competition on account of their central Downtown location and proximity to other date-night stuff like restaurants and bars. Vinegar Hill nabs the top spot, though, because of its unique film choices and, let’s face it, sheer charm. For more information on this winner, click here.

James Wilson of Sons of Bill
Runner-up: William Walter
William Walter may take the prize for Best Musical Group, but when it comes to Best Front Man, you say nobody does it better than Sons of Bill’s James Wilson. Is it his dreamy eyes? His wholesome upbringing? Or is it his voice that makes you swoon? No matter—the local country boy is No. 1 on the ballot…and in your hearts.
Live Arts
Runner-up: Four County Players
Live Arts does it all: The Water Street theater team throws a helluva bash (see Annual Fundraising Party) and it has the slickest lineup season after season (a little Mamet, a little Bard, a taste of Sondheim). That might explain why it wins again this year. Coming in second? Barboursville’s Four County Players, whose 37th season delivered some noteworthy classics: Othello, A Christmas Story and Cabaret. For more information on this winner, click here.


There’s a boy inside that man: At 16, Cody Purvis has a winning way with country music. 

Cody Purvis
Runner-up: Julius Hangman
For a new category like this one, we had hoped readers would fill in the blank with a few unknown names. And boy, did you deliver. Sixteen-year-old Cody Purvis, Charlottesville’s answer to Toby Keith, takes the win with his country tunes. Coming in at a close second is Julius Hangman, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, a whole lot of talent.
Johnny St. Ours
Runner-up: Chris Farina
Johnny St. Ours has an impressive resume—an entry in the Cannes Film Festival, a music video for Dave Matthews, a commercial for a BF Goodrich iPhone app. And that’s just this year’s body of work! No wonder he’s your winner for local filmmaker. A close second? Chris Farina, whose heartwarming World Peace…and other Fourth Grade Achievements, featuring the work of local elementary school teacher John Hunter, made it to this year’s South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas.
Runner-up: DJ WesternFront
Among his list of accomplishments, Rob Bedford (a.k.a. DJ XSV) counts opening for Snoop Dogg and The Black Eyed Peas. But rubbing elbows with Fergie Ferg herself ain’t nothin’ to you readers when it comes to his regular jam-packed gigs at The Box. And your runner-up? By day a graphic designer for Watermark Design, Wes Webb (a.k.a. DJ WesternFront) brings the funk at weekend shows around town.

There’s nothing small about the sounds that come out of the Jefferson, from Gogol Bordello to Deerhunter and, some day, Neko Case.

The Jefferson Theater
Runner-up: The Southern Cafe and Music Hall
It may have smoked the competition for one of this year’s more diminutive categories, but there’s nothing “small” about The Jefferson. Since opening at the end of 2009, the Mall venue has hosted the likes of Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Brandi Carlile and Gogol Bordello, for a rowdy show on New Year’s Eve. For more information on this winner, click here.

106.1 The Corner
Runner-up: 91.9 WNRN
We took a break from this category last year, but it doesn’t matter. A year away apparently won’t break your allegiance to these two stations that earned the exact same titles back in 2008. Much like listening to your favorite song, no matter how often you hear it (or how much time goes by since you heard it last), every time you turn these stations on, it’s like the first time. 
William Walter & Co.
Runner-up: Sons of Bill
There are many similarities between this year’s winner and runner-up. Both bands comprise five crush-worthy musicians. Both pay homage to their elders (SoB is named after Bill Wilson, father of three of the band members; William Walter shares his name with his dad). And both rule the local music scene this year.

A contest winner twice over: Your pick for best photographer, Sarah Cramer Shields, won C-VILLE’s annual photo competition with this image in 2008.

Sarah Cramer Shields
Runner-up: Jen Fariello
It must be a pleasure to see the world through the lens of Sarah Cramer Shields, your winner in this new category. The local photographer has been churning out beautiful pics professionally since 2005, documenting everything from births and weddings to family portraits and business photos. She’s been behind the camera for a few C-VILLE projects like C and ABODE, too. Jen Fariello is also a well-loved baby and wedding photographer, who’s been in business since 1996.