Best of Springfield®

Best of Springfield® 2022 Readers' Poll


Every year, we ask our opinionated readers to tell us about their favorite people, places and things in the Springfield area. Over the decades we’ve been doing this, we’ve continued to tweak both the process and the results issue to try to keep things fresh and interesting, and of course, the votes tend to reflect current trends. In 2020, all 10 of the most popular categories were food-related, perhaps because there wasn’t much else to do. Now, our readers are back to showing their cultured side, with places to see a play or musical, museum and Abraham Lincoln historic site joining perpetually popular categories such as best doughnut, burger and horseshoe. We also add and subtract categories every year based on participation levels and reader feedback. Wondering how all this works? Here are the answers to the most common questions we hear:

Q. Are the results real? Don’t you just pick your advertisers to win?
A. The Best of Springfield results are based on what our readers chose as the best, which is not always the same as what our staff would prefer. Just ask the advertising department, there are many winners who have never spent a dime with us and others who frequently advertise but failed to win their category. While advertising helps remind people to vote for you, it certainly doesn’t guarantee the outcome.

Q. Why did national companies or chain stores win some of the categories? If you’re a locally owned business, shouldn’t you support other locally owned businesses?
A. See previous answer. We encourage our readers to vote (and shop) local, but ultimately, we don’t control the votes.

Q. Why wasn’t ______ category included?
A. There are already more than 200 categories, so from a logistical perspective we have to consider the attention span of both the voters and readers. However, we do add and subtract categories based on reader interest and current events (we recently added categories for comedian and podcast in response to reader requests and online-only boutique is a new category this year). Keep in mind that there needs to be at least four or five contenders in a category to make it competitive, so if you’re asking for “Best battery store,” “Best place to buy a musical instrument,” or “Best auctioneer” (all actual requests we’ve had), we’re taking that into consideration. If you think of a great category we’ve missed, email our associate publisher, James Bengfort, at

Q. Why wasn’t _______ one of the options when I voted?
A. We hold an initial nomination round beginning in mid-August. The top five vote-getters in each category move on to the final voting. So if you want to lobby for a particular person or business to win, the time to start is in the nomination round.

Q. Why don’t all of the winners have a write up this year?
A. We used to publish a short blurb on each of the top picks. However, we do have many repeat winners, and it can be hard to find something different to say each year. Starting in 2019, we switched to a format with longer (but fewer) profiles. We now try to highlight new winners and categories to make it more interesting and informative for the reader.

We welcome comments on this, or anything else in our publication, which can be sent to
– Michelle Ownbey, publisher

Categories with the most votes:
1. Doughnut shop
2. Place to see a play or musical outdoor
3. Bakery
4. Horseshoe
5. Museum
6. Abraham Lincoln historic site
7. Burger
8. Fried fish
9. New restaurant (opened after 8/1/21)
10. Place to see a play or musical indoor

35135 Arts 12.78%
5433 Cannabis 1.98%
13606 Civic 4.95%
0 Drink 6.61%
87303 Food 31.76%
30089 Goods 10.95%
20198 Health 4.91%
13498 Home and Garden 4.91%
12790 Kids Stuff 4.65%
15683 Music 5.71%
22989 Retail 8.36%
274884 Total Votes

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