Stan Hywet. The Soap Box Derby. Blossom Music Center. Your favorite place to grab a bite.
What’s the best spot, attraction and event in Summit County?
You get to name it in this year’s Zenith hospitality awards sponsored by the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The online voting continues through Monday in the annual program designed to bring attention to “the wonderful array of things to do in our own backyard,” said Jim Mahon, spokesman for the bureau.
The online ballot is on the bureau’s website at www.akron.travel. Click on the Zenith Awards logo on the right side of the home page.
This is the 13th year for the Zenith Awards, but only the eighth year that the public has had an opportunity to choose winners in seven categories.
The categories are: attraction/point of interest, community/special event, art/culture, outdoor/recreation, restaurant/dining, shopping/retail and theater/entertainment. Only places and events in Summit County should be nominated.
On Wednesday, Mahon said hometown favorites — such as the Soapbox Derby and Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens — are again getting a lot of votes this year. The derby is placed in the community/special event category, while Stan Hywet is snagging votes in the point of interest/attraction category.
Also, Mahon said, some obscure nominations are coming in. For example, the Cashmere Cricket in Cuyahoga Falls has garnered a few votes. It’s a bar and sandwich, salad and pizza joint.
Mahon said it’s way too early to judge who will come out on top in each of the categories.
Traditionally, Mahon said, many of the votes come in late. He suggested it could take a while for those with a direct tie to an event or establishment to get the word out about the voting.
Last year, about 2,000 people voted online. Mahon is hoping for more this year.
On Wednesday, Mahon sent out an email blast to members of Summit County’s hospitality industry. He will also promote the Zenith Awards in a notice being sent today to some 10,000 followers of Summit County’s online events calendar.
Collections of the county’s 5.5 percent bed tax fund the bureau, which operates the John S. Knight Convention Center and Greystone Hall in downtown Akron. (Last year, the tax generated $4.4 million, up slightly from 2012 bed tax revenues.)
Winners last year included the Akron Zoo (attraction/point of interest); Polar Express-Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (community/special event); dba restaurant in Northside Lofts in downtown Akron (restaurant/dining); and First & Main shopping complex in Hudson (shopping/retail).
The bureau will give out this year’s Zenith Awards during a luncheon event at the Knight Center on May 7. Festivities will begin at 11:30 a.m. The luncheon will be during National Tourism Week.
The luncheon “really allows us to showcase [convention and visitors bureau] partners in the hospitality industry,” Mahon said.
The bureau’s 2014 Chairman’s Award also will be given at the luncheon. This year’s recipient is Jack DeLeo, a 40-year veteran of the advertising industry who retired in December as president and CEO of Hitchcock Fleming & Associates Inc. of Akron.
The Chairman’s Award is given to industry leaders by Gregory Bean, chairman of the bureau’s board of directors. Last year’s Chairman’s Award went to Mitchell Kahan, director emeritus of the Akron Art Museum.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.