“Eating a persian at the shag before heading out to camp.” Yes I know the sentence is a bit of a stretch, but it exemplifies the many -isms and sayings that would baffle those not from Thunder Bay. I remember when I first moved here, I got the hairy eyeball for asking directions to someone’s “cottage” or mispronouncing “sauna.” With that in mind (cue “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito from The Karate Kid) it’s time to celebrate all things Thunder Bay with our annual “best of” issue. Once again, our dedicated team has tallied the votes for 151 categories and determined the best people, places, and things. This year we saw a record number of votes, which included some interesting responses: Swiss Chalet received an impressive 14 votes for Best Roastery (it’s a rotisserie, people!), Harry Potter was voted Best Potter, and “that guy in the banana suit from that rave I went to” was voted Best Dancer. Intentional or not, thanks for making us laugh.

As every year, part of our challenge to readers is to check out those unfamiliar names or categories with the goal of completing more questions for next year’s survey. In Thunder Bay we’re lucky to have a thriving arts, music, theatre, and culinary scene that would rival or surpass any metropolitan area. So go eat at a new restaurant, see a live band, or even discover a new hiking trail.

As part of our “best of” theme, we profile some winners who you might or might not be familiar. Also, our sommelier Jeannie Dubois presents some of last year’s best wine, spirits, and beer, and Michael Sobota shares his favourite films of 2015. To kick off the new year, our menswear curator Lyle Morissette gives a brief guide to wardrobe renewal/reinvigoration, Chef Rachel Globensky serves up a mouthwatering pulled pork sundae recipe for Superbowl Sunday, and check out Stuff We Like, which features some ideas for an El Niño winter.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our readers’ survey and congratulations to all of the winners!

-Adrian Lysenko