Welcome to the Independent's 12th annual Best Of issue. You are holding the peerless guide to all that is great about living in the Pikes Peak region. From the Best New Restaurant to the Best Wine Selection to the Best Sportscaster, we relied on you, our readers, to help us determine gold, silver and bronze winners in 194 categories -- more than ever before. Our edit team contributed additional picks to highlight other people and places that truly deserve recognition.
This year's issue was coordinated by assistant editor Kara Luger. Contributors include Carrie Simison-Bitz, Kathy Conarro, Kathryn Eastburn, Sara Gallagher, Sarah Jane Griesemer, Kara Luger, Vanessa Martinez, Aaron Menza, Eric Phillips, Aaron Retka, Matthew Schniper, Bettina Swigger, David Torres-Rouff, Dan Wilcock, Kirk Woundy and yours truly.
Art director Kathy Conarro worked with her talented team of staffers and photographers to make the issue look fabulous. We're delighted to introduce this year's Best Of model, Jesenia of the John Robert Powers agency. That's Jesenia on the cover, and gracing the pages that introduce the categories we included in this year's poll. Sean Cayton and David Beightol were the photographers on her shoots. Other contributing photographers include Bruce Elliott, Collan Fitzpatrick, Rick Gorham, Sunnie Sacks and Creighton Smith.
-- Cara DeGette, editor