For all intents and purposes, this is the Oscar Awards of Ithaca presented by The Ithaca Times.
Each year, the Best of the best are nominated by the Ithaca community for the Best of Ithaca Awards. Hundreds of entries were submitted this summer as community members placed stakes in answering some of the most pressing questions of the year: What was the best entertainment? Who had the best food? Where served the best drinks? And so forth.
?It’s not only a chance for the community to highlight their favorite parts of living in Tompkins County, it’s an opportunity for nominees and winners alike to be celebrated for their contributions to it as well, with a dash of friendly competition mixed in.
In light of this year’s events, we’ve chosen to include some new categories like Best Local Mask Maker and Best Activist, along with some old favorites. We hope you enjoy reading about the Best of Ithaca award winners and finding out what your neighbors might’ve found so special about them.?
Starting with the entertainment section, we'll be publishing our winners here on Ithaca.com, as voted by you.
As always, congratulations to everyone who was nominated, and a special congratulations to the winners. As this year continues, be sure to reach out to us with your suggestions for next year’s categories. It’s anyone’s guess what next year could look like. In the meantime, enjoy.
Best Book Written by a Local Author: Bob Proehl’s The Nobody People?
“This is so great to hear! I started writing these books in the summer before the 2016 election, as a way to make sense of some of what I was seeing, and find a way through it. It’s weird to leave characters and a world that have lived in my head for almost four years, but I’m glad the books have found an audience, especially here in Ithaca.”?
Best Local Band: Fall Creek Brass Band?
Fall Creek Brass Band started more than 10 years ago as a group of young horn players, but has since experienced a resurgence and grown into a tight brass-funk group, according to music director Alec Staples. In past years, they have been seen at GrassRoots, Porchfest, Finger Lakes Thaw, Ithaca Festival and CFCU Downtown Concert Series, along with many other venues.?
Best Music Performance: Fall Creek Brass Band?
Alec Staples told us, “All the members of FCBB would like to express our deepest gratitude for all of the love and support that we’ve received from our Ithaca community! We can always count on Ithacans to be ready to dance whenever we show up to play. The past six months have been very rough on the music scene, and it’s made us realize what a big role music plays in our lives. We’re very excited for what the future holds, and we can’t wait to get out and play again!”?
Best Solo Artist: Joe Crookston?
“OMG! I love that in this 2020 year where live music stopped and no shows happened, I was awarded ‘Best Solo Artist’. The less I do, the more I win! Also, please vote. District #23 needs a rep like Tracy Mitrano. Oh, I would like to thank Ruth Bader Ginsberg for her fierce dedication to justice, and thank you to Rick Manning for his tireless work on the Waterfront Trail. I ride my bike on it and it makes me happy. Be safe and take good care, my Ithaca friends. Thanks for wearing your masks.”?
?Best Theater Performance: Hangar Theatre?
Hangar Theatre Marketing Director Thena Gitlin says, “Due to the continued impacts of COVID-19, we made the decision to replace all live artistic programming this summer with new, virtual experiences this March. We offered a completely virtual season consisting of five Mainstage plays, four KIDSTUFF plays, two The Wedge plays, a Virtual Lab Company, and online Next Generation School of Theatre classes for young people. The productions in our Mainstage season were all chosen for times of change and transformation: “The Skin of Our Teeth”, “Uncommon Excerpts and Others”, “The Wendy Chronicles”, “Queens Girl in the World”, “Honk Your Horn: Celebrate! Musical! Theatre!” and “Sense and Sensibility.” The success of our virtual summer season was possible because of a combination of our artists, our partnership with Ithaca College, and the support from our community. We plan to continue inspiring with virtual plays this fall, and we hope to produce a live virtual season next year.” Stay posted at www.hangartheatre.com.?
?Best Arts Event: Porchfest?
In a stroke of sour irony that pretty well defines 2020, Porchfest co-organizers Lesley Greene and Andy Adelewitz got this good news the day before Porchfest would have happened. “We’re incredibly flattered,” they said. “Porchfest is a celebration of Ithaca, so really, this honor belongs to our amazing creative community. It’s bittersweet in this difficult year, when Porchfest has been canceled like pretty much everything else, but we’re optimistic about bringing it back, as joyous as ever, when it’s safe to do so.”?
?Best Local DJ: DJ DoughBoy (Devan Carrington)?
Devan Carrington, or DJ DoughBoy, has been the Friday resident DJ at Silky Jones for a while, and has been gigging around town for the last five years. Born and raised in New York City, he was always surrounded by all genres of music, and credits his uncle Melvin and high school friend Byron Crooks for encouraging him to become a DJ.?
?“Being a DJ means more to me than just pressing play and buying some fancy equipment,” he said. “Music is powerful. My role is to facilitate fun, good vibes, aerobic movement and positive energy. A successful set to me is when a guest comes up and says ‘I was having such an awful week, but the couple of hours I spent here really helped.’ That is why I do what I do and living in Ithaca has given me the chance to give back to the community that has given so much to me.”?
Best Comedian: Kenneth McLaurin?
“First of all, I want to thank God and my family. Without the support of my daughter Sankofa, my son Kenneth and my wife Sing Trece, I would not be here accepting this award. This honor is truly not mine alone. It has been a wonderful journey creating comedy in Ithaca. Bringing people together, providing stages for diverse voices to be showcased, and building positive community connections all around laughter has been fun to be a part of. I want to thank all the people who were part of this comedy journey with me. To the Tan Holmes Duo, JSK, JYL, Uncle Joe and Big Tyme Barbershop, the venues that opened up their spaces to us, and everyone who came to a show and laughed at a joke. Anyone I didn’t mention directly, y’all are all included and I want to say thank you for the good times, new friends and great memories. Ithaca, stay safe, stay sane, socially distant and sanitized. Remember, life’s a joke, find the funny.”