Best of Sumter 2018 wins national award


With already more than triple the number of votes having been received for our Best of Sumter 2019 readers' choice contest, last year's contest has won a national award.

Best of Sumter 2018, the first year The Sumter Item changed the format and name of its annual readers' choice contest, was named Best Citywide Ballot at the 10th-Annual Second Street Awards on Thursday.

The contest, promotion and email campaign platform honored success stories from its more than 4,000 media partners in 26 categories, with Best of Sumter topping readers' choice contests run by newspapers and TV stations. The Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Post and Courier, Savannah Morning News and The Hickory Daily Record were among the other finalists for the award.

"Thousands of media companies from all over North America are considered for this award, and for it to be coming to Sumter is really a testament to everything this community is becoming," Publisher Vince Johnson said.

Highlights noted by Second Street included the fact that Best of Sumter 2018 increased the number of votes by 10 times over the previous year, that it included video commercials for nominees produced by Studio Sumter, The Sumter Item's video production department, and that it hosted its first-ever event, the red carpet winners' celebration gala held last year at La Piazza downtown that was sold to capacity.

Best of Sumter 2018 honored 264 winners through 101,934 votes online at, in an annual magazine and through the event.

This year, for Best of Sumter 2019, those numbers are already breaking last year's records.

We have already seen more than 350,000 votes come in for more than 300 categories, and users can still vote once daily in every category through Feb. 28 at

Winners will be announced on April 25 at The Sumter Item's second-annual red carpet winners' celebration gala, where winners will also receive the Best of Sumter 2019 magazine three days before it is distributed to the public.

"There's no doubt now," Johnson said, "the Best of Sumter 2019 will be a contest, magazine and event people from all over the country will be looking to as they strive to improve local communities. Our community has really embraced the contest on an epic level."