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Well, for one thing, the first “Best of Roanoke” in this magazine—March, 1986—was actually called “The Best and Worst of Roanoke.”
Most prominent “Worsts” from 30 years ago?
• The airport.
• Traffic on 419.
• Local salaries.
• K92 (which also won for best radio station.)
• Lack of local government consolidation.
Yeah, what’s really changed in three decades?
Not a whole lot when you consider the time. Festival in the Park was a winner. The Roanoker Restaurant. Robin Reed. Jane Powell. Kroger. Peaks of Otter. WDBJ News. Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Luigi’s Restaurant. Center in the Square.
Then again, consider this list of long-gone Best of Roanoke winners (not to mention some of the categories themselves):
Donna Dean was Best Sex Symbol (Female). Reed, by the way, was the male winner.
Best Restaurant Overall was the late, lamented Library.
Best Place to Pick up Somebody (!): Charades.
I guess we have moved forward some when the Best Place to Buy Wine/Cheese was Martha’s Vineyard, deep in Tanglewood Mall, where there’s like a college now.
Bart Prater was Best Local Radio Personality; and good enough to get national attention.
Dominion Bank was our favorite bank. It was pretty big and it was home-town. Before it got devoured by, sequentially, First Union, Wachovia and Wells Fargo.
Thalhimers was Best Department Store, back when the department store was still a viable entity.
Roanoke Mayor Noel Taylor was our Most Trusted Politician.
Yes, the Best of Roanoke 30 years ago revolved a great deal around personalities, places to eat (this magazine’s Dining Awards broke away from the Best of Roanoke later in 1986), and our readers’ favorite destinations and attractions.