Changes and updates in 2021:

• New for the First Round voting in 2021, we removed the Finance group and moved most of its categories to the Services group.

• We added a Community Interest group. 

• Because there were not enough entries last year, we removed some categories, including Best Karaoke Spot, Best Cupcake Shop, Best General Surgery Practice, Best Independent Pharmacy, Best Physical Therapist, Best Primary Care Physician, Best Tutoring Service and Best Urgent Care Facility.

• In some cases, such as with the category Best Pasta, we removed the category as it was inclusive in other -- in this case, Best Italian Restaurant.

• We combined several categories, including the Best Midwifery and Best OB/GYN categories, and the Best Architectural Firm and Best Interior Design Firm categories. The Best Hotel and Best B&B categories have been combined into a Best Lodging category.

Q: How does Best of the Best work?

Best of the Best is a readers’ choice awards contest conducted by The Frederick News-Post in Frederick County, Maryland. It includes a Nomination Period (to make sure we have relevant businesses and organizations) and two voting rounds:

• Nomination Period: In the Nomination Period, readers add the names of their favorite businesses or organizations to the contest. Anyone can nominate entrants that meet the category criteria. Go to:

• First Round Voting (to determine the Top 5): The First Round serves to narrow the list of contenders down to the top five vote-getters in each category – only the top five go on to the final round. After the nominations are in, and after we take a few days to confirm the eligibility of new entrants, we open up voting at You may vote once per day in each category.

• Final Voting Round (to determine the winners and finalists): In the second and final voting round, reader votes determine a winner and two finalists from the top five contenders in each category. You’ll have seven days to vote in the final round at Once again, you may vote once per day in each category.

Q: What are the key dates for 2021?

• Nomination Period: Aug. 25-29

• First Round Voting: Sept. 22-28

• Final Voting Round: Oct. 27-Nov. 2

• Winners announced: Dec. 8

Q: I nominated my business, but I don’t see it showing up on the website. Why is that?

If you’re looking at the site during the nomination period and don’t see a business you nominated, fear not! All valid entries are considered and reviewed. But in order for a nomination to show up on the site, we have to approve it manually. Because we receive thousands (upon thousands!) of nominations, we may get backlogged.

The good news is your business only has to be nominated once to make it to the first round of voting, assuming it met the guidelines. And if it did meet the guidelines, it does not matter if it showed up on the site during the nomination period.

Q: What guidelines do we use to determine whether a nominated business qualifies for the first voting round?

Before voting opens, our Best of the Best Team does its best to vet all nominees.

Here are the guidelines we use, with exceptions as noted below:

• Unless the category is labeled "Regional" or there is an exception noted below, the nominee must operate in Frederick County, Maryland. If the category is labeled “Regional,” the category is open to nominees from Frederick and nearby counties. See below for specific limitations, because regional eligibility sometimes varies by category.

• In some categories that are not labeled "Regional," businesses that are on the border of Frederick County may be deemed eligible at our discretion.

• Most categories are restricted to local businesses and organizations, in the sense of being locally owned and operated, not national brands, chains or franchises. Some categories, noted below, are open to national or regional businesses and brands. Small regional groups, at our discretion, may be considered local businesses.

• We reserve the right to disqualify a business or organization from a category that does not represent a significant focus of its activities.

• Nominees must, in most categories, be open to the general public. (That is, no restrictive membership organizations.) Exceptions include golf courses and bingo events.

• Nominations for individual categories, like Best Bartender, must include the nominee's full name and place of business.

Application of our criteria is not an exact science. The Best of the Best Team uses its best judgment; if you think we’ve made an error, please email

Category exceptions and special notes:

• Arts & Entertainment – The Best Family Entertainment, Best Live Music Venue and Best Romantic Getaway categories are open to destinations in adjacent counties. The Best Local Band category is open to bands that perform regularly in Frederick County.

• Auto – Chains and national companies are eligible in all categories. Best Motorcycle Shop is open to shops in adjacent counties; all other categories are restricted to Frederick County-based businesses.

• Beer, Wine, Liquor – The Wineries category is open to wineries in counties adjacent to Frederick County.

• Body & Soul – Local businesses only, expect in the Health and Fitness category, where all companies operating in Frederick County are eligible, including chains and franchises. Also: Chiropractors are not eligible in the Holistic category.

• Community Interest – This is a new grouping, featuring many categories that were in the Services group in 2020. Local businesses only, except in the Best Company to Work For category, where national companies and franchises operating in the county are eligible. The Best Nonprofit category is intended for special service-oriented nonprofit businesses, not membership or professional organizations.

• Destinations – Local businesses only, expect in the Lodging category, where all companies operating in Frederick County are eligible, including chains and franchises. Best Small Town is limited to towns in Frederick County.

• Dining Experience – This category is reserved for locally run places to eat, as opposed to national chains. The Best Food Truck category is open to any food truck nominated by our readers.

• Food – Local businesses only, except in the following categories, where all companies are eligible: Best Chicken Wings, Best French Fries, Best Fried Chicken, Best Hot Dog, Best Pizza. The Best Butcher Shop category is open to butchers in adjacent counties.

• Health – In categories where we asked for practices, we try to exclude individual practitioners, unless they operate solo practices named after themselves. Local businesses only, except in the Best Regional Hospital Category, which is open to hospitals in adjacent counties, but not DC or Baltimore.

• Home – Local businesses only, except in the following categories, where all companies operating in the county are eligible: Best Heating and Air Company, Best Home Builder, Best Home Décor/Furnishings, Best Home Improvement Company, Best Landscape Company, Best Pest Control Company, Best Real Estate Company, Best Tree Service Company.

• Kids & Education – Local businesses only, except in the Best Child Care Center category, which is open to any with a presence in the county. The Best College/University category is open to schools within a short trip (a couple of hours), including campuses of the University of Maryland. The Best Summer Camp category is open to camps in adjacent counties, too. The Best Child Care Center category is open to licensed providers only.

• Pets – Two categories (Best Boarding/Daycare and Best Pet Store) are open to national chains or franchises that operate in the county.

• Services – Local businesses only, except in these following categories where national companies and franchises operating in the county are eligible: Best Auction Company, Best Assisted Living Community, Best Cleaning Service, Best Funeral Home, Best Insurance Agency, Best Mortgage Lender, Best Retirement Community Best Tax Preparation Company and Best Travel and Tour Services.

The Best Photographer and the Best Videographer categories are intended for professionals only.

The Insurance Agency category is open to locally based offices or teams of agents or brokers selling insurance directly to buyers. The category is not intended for individual agents, unless they are sole proprietors of an agency or brokerage, in which case that agency or brokerage may be nominated under their name. Commercial Real Estate is open to companies owning, leasing or selling property in Frederick County.

• Shopping – Local businesses only, except in the following categories are open to local businesses operating in adjacent counties: Best Book/Comic Store, Best Gun Shop and Best Bridal/Formal Wear Store. The Best Full-Service Supermarket category is open to all major stores operating in the county.

We reserve the right to change these guidelines. Check back on this for current guidelines.

Q: My business was nominated, and I saw it on the website during the nomination period, but it is not showing up in the voting round. Why?

See the guidelines answer above. After nominations close and before voting opens, our team does its best to vet all nominees. While your business may have appeared during the nomination period, our team may have determined it was ineligible for the voting round.

Q: I think my business should have made it to the First Voting Round. How do I register a complaint?

Email us at within 24 hours after the first voting period opens. You must identify the category and tell us why you think your business should have been included.

Like most humans, we sometimes make mistakes, and if we have, we’ll add your business within moments of our decision.

Q: How are the winners selected?

Winners are those that received the most votes in their category. Runners-up are those that received the second- and third-most votes in their category.

If there is a tie, we will announce both winners and/or runners up.

Q: Why does this contest allow people to nominate/vote every day?

The Frederick Best of the Best contest allows daily voting and nominations—once per person per day per category—because daily voting rewards those entrants with passionate supporters. With a single vote per person, entrants with the best name recognition have a distinct advantage, as many voters skim over categories and cast their votes casually. That kind of popularity is an important part of finding the best of Frederick. But we also want to reward the sense of passion some people have for their local favorites, which can be captured in daily voting.

Also: This contest is fundamentally about celebrating and supporting great Frederick institutions by raising their profile and helping them gain new fans. With daily voting, the contest raises the visibility of those businesses and organizations that use it to reach out to new and existing customers to ask for their support, through advertising and through their own channels.

Q: Is it okay to use multiple email accounts to vote even more times?

Voting is limited to one vote per person per day. Even though we require sign-ups, we recognize that some people, in their enthusiasm, may be tempted to vote several times using different email accounts. We do have systems in place to detect fraudulent voting. When we see evidence of fraudulent voting, we may eliminate all the votes cast by the voters. In extreme cases, we will remove entrants, as well.