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The Best 2014

 
The Best 2013
BERKSHIRE RECORD MAGAZINE
Finding the best of what the Berkshires has to offer was certainly no easy task. We asked you, the Berkshire Record and Berkshire Courier readers, to help us and you came through in a very big way.
  • Community Editors | Readers
• Shopping Editors | Readers
• Dining Editors | Readers
• Arts & Culture Editors | Readers
• Nightlife Editors | Readers
• Home & Design Clients

After tallying thousands of votes (from as far north as Florida, Mass. as far as south as Litchfield County, Conn. and as far west as Albany, NY), we bring you The Berkshire Record Magazine's The Best 2014.

The Best 2014
is our comprehensive annual magazine featuring the best parts about living, working and playing in the Berkshires. Welcome to The Best 2014 - enjoy!

Best 2014

The Best 2014: The Best Berkshire Record Magazine

Pick-up your copy of the Berkshire Record Magazine's Best 2014 at locations throughout Berkshire County OR you may download a digital (PDF) version of South County's hottest and most anticipated magazine of the year - The Best 2014.

At over 100 pages and 50% larger than Best 2013, we've added 100s more awards - submitted by our readers and even more editors awards. The Berkshire Record Magazine (TBRM).

Take a tour of the Best 2014 with this year's Berkshire County tour guide, John Edgar Barrington Sedgwick.

Download and read all about the Best in the Berkshires 2014:

Community, Dining, Shopping, Nightlife, Arts & Culture and Home & Design

Best in Berkshires Magazine Download The Best 2014 (PDF)


OR Click on any of the links below to read the Best Berkshire Record Magazine awards in text format:
• Community Editors | Readers
• Shopping Editors | Readers
• Dining Editors | Readers
• Arts & Culture Editors | Readers
• Nightlife Editors | Readers
• Home & Design Clients


INTRODUCTION:

Greetings! And hail fellow travelers!

The name’s Johnny—John Edgar Barrington Sedgwick, if we’re being formal. A citizen of the world and resident of nowhere, I come to the Berkshires by a circuitous route.

I have recovered lost tribes in the Amazon (three and half, to be precise), learned the ancient language of the people of a pebble-sized island off the coast of New Guinea (thus salvaging it from extinction), dove for black pearls in the seas off Indonesia (wrestling a rare colossal squid while at it), enjoyed a brief but rigorous detour to telemark ski down Everest (tricky, I admit, but claims of “impossible” I must deflect), retrieved ancient Aztec treasures (you can spot a few in local museums), and, most recently, flew over the Sahara in a sun-powered aircraft of my own design. I was about to jettison myself into the rarified realm of space travel, when my longtime mentor, Sir Ethan Morehouse (you might know him for his work discovering rare medicinal fauna in the Congo) suddenly became ill, and I was called to his side.

“John,” he said to me, peering through his monocle at our treasured map of expeditions, worn thin with pinpricks and our ever-plotting fingertips, “We are Adventurers of the Old School. You and I have been around the world and have seen things which common men dare not imagine, much less dream. We are a dying breed, and I alas will soon leave it one man shorter.” He paused here, his breathing labored. “You have seen much, my friend, but if you will humor your old mentor, please listen to me.” As his voice hushed to a whisper, I leaned in closer. “There is one thing you have not yet discovered, and you will find it…” he gasped, coughed, inhaled deeply, “in the Berkshires.”

And at that, the dear man expired in my arms.

And so for the past year, I have set my sites on the Berkshires. I have seen it by foot, by rail (the old tracks, that is), and by single prop plane. I have swum its lakes and shimmied into the depths of its limestone caves (discovering a rare albino bear in the process). I have traversed its urban streets by skateboard, and its back roads by Subaru. I have even glanced at it through Intelligence-restricted satellites (but I didn’t tell you that).

On one of my adventures, I happened upon the good people of the Berkshire Record, who asked me to be your guide for the Best of 2014. I am humbly at your service.
Without further ado, I present you with the structure of our adventures. Enclosed, you will find six main categories: Community, Shopping, Dining, Nightlife, Arts & Culture, and Home & Design. Each category is mapped as follows: Readers' Choice awards (selected by you, dear readers), Editors' Choice awards, where the BR staff do some exploring of their own; and finally Clients' Choice where our advertisers are given the opportunity to reveal to you, as I myself strive to seek, treasures you will not find anywhere else in this great, deep, mysterious world.

The first thing I did upon my arrival in the Berkshires was head for the high ground to survey my surroundings. This of course brought me to the top of Mt. Greylock where the entire county rolled away from me, keeping its treasures safely tucked amidst the gentle hills, beautiful villages, quaint hamlets, pristine campuses, and untainted nature.

Somewhere out there lay the discovery Sir Ethan alluded to with his last breath, a treasure so rare the greatest adventurer in the world, yours truly, had not yet encountered it. I started off the mountain to begin my search in earnest, and those early days were as exciting as any I'd ever had. Talk of discoveries! There was one around every corner, and after several corners what I found, collectively, was Community.

When coming into contact with a new society I've always found it helpful to develop a relationship with not only the chieftains, but also the tribe members who actually do the work required to keep that society functioning.

With that in mind I made nice with the local politicians and befriended those whose duty it was to keep the parks and pools clean, the traffic flowing and the masses in shape and entertained. I'm happy to say that my endeavors were so successful that I was simultaneously made Sheriff in Egremont and was, unbeknownst to me, a write-in candidate for selectman in Sheffield. (I won the position but subsequently resigned as I had no idea I'd been running in the first place.)

It reminded me of the time I was declared king of that island nation off the coast of New Guinea. On top of all that my name was thrown into the ring for Town Manager of Great Barrington. Happily, I lost that contest.

I invite you to follow in my footsteps and explore the best of Community. Where you will find yours and the editors' choices for the best the Berkshires have to offer in politics, people and recreation, among other things. Treasures indeed, but can it be what I'm meant to discover?

COMMUNITY: Editors' Choice
(Return to The Best top)
Best View
Monument Mountain
The trek can be a bit arduous, but the payoff is superb. The top of Monument Mountain offers a 360 degree gaze upon the beauty of the Berkshires. The marshy ponds and peaks that overlook them face North as you can track the length of Route 7. The Monument MountainHigh School campus looks like miniature model and during the fall, gives a bird’s eye view of the Spartans football games. The neighboring peaks of Beartown Mountain and portions of Great Barrington and West Stockbridge come into view. For the more adventurous dangle your legs over the ledge to see the tops of trees and, if you make your way to Devils Pulpit be sure to look back at the peak and catch the Berkshires version of the man in the mountain watching over the valley. The rock scramble at the top of the mountain makes for an added fun obstacle but also a place to rest your legs and look straight into the clouds to relax and forget of any civilian stresses.

Best Historic Site
Ashley Falls
The Berkshires area is a dream destination for historians. With gilded age estates and mansions, historic preserves, turn of the century mills, and landmark homes of some of countries greatest figures there are plenty to sift though. But tucked away in a small section of Sheffield is a home that is bursting with historical significance. The Ashley House in Ashley Falls was the former home of Col John Ashley, heading the committee that authored the 1773 paper the Sheffield Declaration (also known as the Sheffield Resolves), a protest against the English Monarchy that paved the way toward the creation of the Declaration of Independence. The house was also home to Mum Bett, who was enslaved by the Ashley family and eventually sued Col. Ashley in a landmark case that won her freedom and helped to end slavery in Massachusetts.

Best Buzz Kill
Sandisfield Marijuana
Following the passage of the state referendum allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, it seemed as if Massachusetts and the Berkshires would be awash in green. In Sandisfield, a town owned dispensary was proposed, an idea that was celebrated initially but later faced tough questioning over security, plausibility and costs. While the town seemed highly supported of the idea of medical marijuana, the plan went up in smoke as voters chose to wait it out and passed to the left on the $30,000 plan to pay consults to apply for a dispensary license.

Best Big Box Boxing Match
Sheffield Dollar
General fight
The battle over the Dollar General in Sheffield quickly went from a shoving match to a world war. Protestors, the Board of Selectmen, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board it seems like everyone got involved in the fight that led to a “townie” revolt and what looks like the inevitable building of the dealer of cheap wares. The fight led to several petitions, first to stop the building altogether. Originally a handwritten sheet passed around the Sheffield Town Hall, the petition soon went online, and according to Sheffield resident Catherine Miller, the signatures numbered over 900. Then there was a petition to recall a planning board member that fell well short.

Best Lawsuit
St. Ann’s Ave.
Lenox
Lenox neighbors are battling for legal rights to an 8 x 2 sq. ft. triangle of land bordering their properties. The three-year, $40,000 + legal war sparked a separate lawsuit over a garbage receptacle and a call to Lenox police, after one neighbor feared the other was pointing a gun at him from an upstairs window. Police arrived at the scene and determined that the neighbor had been pointing a camera at him.

Best Law
The Goatee Ordinance
Choosing the best outdated law in Massachusetts was a tough one, there were so many top tier candidates like the law requiring all men to carry a rifle to church on Sunday, the law that outlaws eating more than three sandwiches at a wake or the one making it is illegal to go to bed without first having a full bath. But the one that is so incredible, it is beyond belief is the goatee ordinance. It declares it illegal to have a goatee unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public. Goatees are a privilege yes, but this might take the cake for the most ridiculous regulation ever.

Best Public Eviction
New Marlborough P.D.
Fire departments and police departments are known to fight more than cats and dogs. One south county town highlighted that the best this past year. This year he New Marlborough Police Department has returned to its old offices in the New Marlborough Town Hall, and will not return to the new offices in the Fire Company’s firehouse after a confrontation between former Fire Chief Peter Scala and Police Officer Graham Frank. At a February Select Board meeting, New Marlborough Police Chief Scott Farrell informed the Select Board that an incident had occurred between Scala and Frank, and in consequence, the Police Department would be leaving the firehouse premises immediately.

Best Exit Stage Right Speech
Kevin O’Donnell
Everyone has left a job and wanted to burn that bridge, not everyone does. This year one town manager did in epic fashion. This year in Great Barrington outgoing Town Manager Kevin O’Donnell ended his tenure as chief executive of Town Hall with a quip. Reading from a statement at his last Board of Selectmen meeting, he first cited General MacArthur’s famous observation, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” As for city and town managers, he said, borrowing from a Marine Corps refrain: “When I go to heaven, to St. Peter, I will say: Another city/town manager reporting, sir. I’ve served my time in hell.”

Best High School
Mt. Everett
Mt. Everett, one of the smallest high schools in Massachusetts, is also one the best, according to the 2013 rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Out of the 289 districts and 358 high schools in the state, only 76 high schools, both public and private, were awarded either gold or silver medals by the report – a requirement to achieve a ranking. Mt. Everett received one of the 30 silver medals and was ranked 46 in the state and 1,549 in the nation.

Best Creation Of An Alternate Universe
Kleinwaldastan
In protest to what he deemed an intolerable intrusion on his rights as an individual, Paul Kleinwald, owner of an antiques shop on South Main Street and a student of the banjo, has revoked his voter registration and identified himself as “no longer a member of the Great Barrington corporation, the corporation of the state of Massachusetts, nor the foreign corporation of the federal government of the United States.” Soon after that Kleinwald appeared before the Board of Selectmen to “give formal notice” that he will shortly travel local roads with a self-styled license plate on his cars, because he is not subject to the state laws governing motor vehicles.

Best Botched Job of a Contract
Lenox Selectmen
Steve Bartha, Assistant Town Manager of Avon, Conn., was unanimously appointed the next town manager by the Board of Selectmen. Then just two weeks later Lenox’s Town Manager-elect, abruptly broke off contract negotiations after the town’s professional search firm mistakenly sent him a preliminary contract, telling him it was his formal contract. Sources close to the hiring negotiations said that the mix-up confused Bartha, assistant town manager for Avon, Conn., who thought he’d reached agreement on final terms of the three-year contract.

Best Town-wide Celebration
Founders Day in Lee
This last Lee’s Founders’ Weekend drew more than 3,000 visitors, a record number of vendors and near-perfect weather for the town’s 236th birthday celebration, with its annual parade, Lee’s own “Idol” singing contest, the Festivo Latino of the Berkshires, Main Street sidewalk sales and more. The three-day festival’s marquee event, A Taste of Lee, was “our biggest and best ever,” said Lois Fusco, executive director of the Lee Chamber of Commerce.

Best Hotel Proposal
Spring Lawn
There has been no shortage is hotels proposed in the county this year, but one has really shone bright. Spring Lawn has set empty for years until now. In total, the additions would add over 50,000 square feet of new rooms and would leave the property as a 95-room boutique hotel with a restaurant and spa on-site. The project has been proposed by Spring Lawn GP LLC of South Carolina, which has hired Turnberry Consulting, of Washington D.C. and that group’s work and professionalism have the project on track.

Best Confession
New Marlboroough Highway Garage Thiefs
Thanks to surveillance cameras installed at the New Marlborough highway department garage, the mystery of who broke in and stole more than $6,000 worth of equipment and stole just as much from a Sheffield excavating company’s gravel pit in Clayton was quickly solved. The two alleged construction burglars swiftly issued voluntary statements confessing and taking responsibility for the Sept. 20 burglaries. And one of the men even led police to the stolen equipment at his house and helped load the equipment back into an unmarked police minivan.

Best Chemical Covered Walking Path
Silver Lake
Thanks to the assistance of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority (PEDA), a long planned walking path along Silver Lake will continue to go forward. The walking path was included in the consent decree General Electric (GE) entered into with the City of Pittsfield in 2000 to clean up its sites. The only problem, it runs through a chemical hot bed and may even make you glow at night after a stroll.

Best Community Vigil
Pittsfield Boston Bombing
The mood inside the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts in Pittsfield was somber yet hopeful at an interdenominational community prayer vigil, held in memory of everyone touched by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The lovely event included lighting remembrance candles, prayers, readings and community singing.

Best Parade
Pittsfield 4th of July
Roughly 60,000 people attended the annual Fourth of July Parade in Pittsfield this summer, and with numbers like that it has to be good. The “America The Beautiful—Land That I Love”-themed parade, which began on West Housatonic Street and ended at Wahconah Park, featured a variety of floats, music, and antique vehicles.

Best Reason To Go Hungry
#SNAPchallenge
This past year State Representatives attempted to live on federal food stamps for a week as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Senator Ben Downing and Massachusetts State Representatives William “Smitty” Pignatelli, Paul Mark, and Tricia Farley-Bouvier shopped thriftily to feed themselves and their families on a food stamp budget.

Best Reason To Get An Easy Pass
Reinstated Tolls
We all knew this day would come; tolls were reinstated at the first six interchanges on the Massachusetts turnpike. Fees of $1.75 returned for the first time in Western Massachusetts since 1996 after a state transportation-financing package was passed at the beginning of the year. Interchange 1 connects to West Stockbridge and Interchange 2 connects to Lee in Berkshire County.

Best Non-profit
The Railroad Street Youth Project
Giving opportunity to youth in the Berkshires has been the mission of RSYP since day one. Born as a response to a troubling amount of substance abuse-related deaths with young people in 1999, the organization has soldiered on for 15 years. Now a fully established organization offering apprenticeships, mentoring programs, weekly afterschool activities and classes, and a drop in center where anyone ages 14-25 are able to meet with staff for any reason, as well as sponsoring community wide events and trips. The organization continues to grow and help be a positive force in the community for both young and old.

Best Up and Coming Neighborhood
Housatonic
Housatonic has seen almost nothing but positives over the past year. A cultural hub home to the Guthrie Center, Pulse, Pilot Recording Studios, BRIDGE educational organization and a community of talented and innovative artists as well as mainstay businesses like the Brick House Pub there are plenty of reasons to visit this quiet town, but with population trends swinging upward since 2012 and more young families moving in, Housatonic is in position to cement it place as the spot to live in the Berkshires.

Best Public Solar Program
Solarize Lee
The Solarize Mass program has already been a successful program for several communities across the state including Pittsfield and Lenox, so its no surprise to see the program landing in Lee to positive results. But the speed and response that Solarize Lee garnered well exceeded its expectations, and within a few weeks the program had reached its best possible pricing level well before its Sept. 30 deadline.

Best Inter-town Cooperation
River Cleanup
The pollution of PCBs in the Housatonic River by General Electric has caused severe damage to the waterway and brought major concerns to each of the towns that it runs through. But through the environmental battle over cleaning the Housatonic, a united front emerged with a six-town alliance of Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Great Barrington, Stockbridge and Sheffield. The municipalities pooled resources to hire the Pawa Law Group to serve as negotiator and litigator for the Rest of River clean up G.E. is in the midst of performing under the order of the EPA. The towns hope to protect their resources and their assets and support each other as the clean up occurs, one positive out of a massive negative situation.

Best Town Headache: Lee
Regionalization
We’ll give Joe Buffis a break in this category. The discussion of uniting the school districts of Lee and Lenox is not a new one, but the talk has heated up once again much to the moans and sighs of many residents in both school districts. Former school superintendent Jason McCandless joked about walking on egg shells when even mentioning regionalization. There are many points of contention to this discussion from past rivalries between the schools, feasibility, covering costs from choice students, splitting up schools and dividing up sports teams the discussion is minefield of arguments.

Best Response To a Public Scandal
Lee Officials
While Police Chief Joseph Buffis was under heavy scrutiny and investigation by the F.B.I. the town of Lee turned to its leaders for answers and were calmed with a resounding “No comment”. In August Buffis was indicted on charges of money laundering and extortion.

Best Public Official
(South)
Christopher Rembold
Great Barrington’s town planner is as talented and energetic as they come. Last year Chris Rembold expertly led the town through an arduous master-plan process. Approved by the Planning and Select boards in October, the Great Barrington Master Plan won the 2013 American Planning Association - Massachusetts Chapter Comprehensive Plan award for a municipality. The award is given annually to a plan, program or process of unusually high merit in Massachusetts. Rembold maintains an active blog at gbplanning.wordpress.com with the latest news of his department. He has secured many competitive grants since becoming town planner in March 2009 and is always accessible to taxpayers and the media.

Best Public Official
(Central)
Melissa Mazzeo
Pittsfield
Councillor at-large Melissa Mazzeo was recently elected Council President by majority vote in January, following the inauguration of city government. By earning the trust of her fellow council members, she has succeeded in leading the city’s many political and economic initiatives in the past few months. As a brown bag volunteer at the Ralph Frio Senior Center, coach of the Pittsfield girls softball league, member of the Berkshire County chapter of Zonta International, and board member for Girls, Inc, Mazzeo has more than expressed interest in community outreach and showed her commitment to the city of Pittsfield.

Best Downtown
(South)
Great Barrington
There’s a reason Smithsonian magazine named Great Barrington the best small town in America and its vibrant downtown must rank as a major factor. There simply is no downtown like it in the Berkshires: a wide Main Street, an impressive array of shops, galleries and restaurants. Its proximity to hiking spots and beautiful walking trails like the Housatonic River Walk as well as beautiful architecture like the stunning searales castle its easy to see why Great Barrington is America’s best small town.

Best Downtown
(Central)
Pittsfield
The city of the Berkshires, Pittsifeld’s downtown could rival any other’s for best in the county. With great bars and restaurants, the County’s best museum, an incredible library and cultural centers like The Colonial, there is so much to do. And with new shops opening and a committed revitalization effort moving the city in the right direction there is sure to be something new to see each visit.

Best Downtown
(North)
Williamstown
An array of stores, restaurants, offices, and campus buildings, downtown Williamstown is the perfect place to shop, dine, or play. Stop by Tunnel City Coffee on Spring Street for coffee, tea, and pastries, or head to The Purple Pub for a perfectly mixed drink. Head to the Harrison Gallery to view some fine art, including traditional paintings and sculptures, or visit Toonerville Trolley for some independent music and rare, out-of-print records.

Best Dressed Selectwoman
Deborah McMenamy
You cannot stop by a select board meeting in Stockbridge without noticing the always well put together woman at the table. McMenamy, clad in a classy business suit, always fits what you think an elected official should look like.

Best Dressed Selectman
Ken Fowler
Why do so many selectmen always look like they are hanging out on the couch watching a football game at the meetings? The dress is sure not topnotch around the county, but in Lenox one man makes sure to look the part. Fowler can always be found in a jacket and button up, sure that’s not a full suit but around these parts it is more than enough to bring this award home. To the other gentlemen, take note and find yourself a good Berkshire County tailor.

Best Political Advice
Michelle Loubert
Housatonic
If you are a registered voter but don’t vote, it is important that you do so. By not voting, you are allowing others to make critical, financial decisions for you and you are paying for those decisions.And before you vote, do the math on your tax bill. Know what you will be paying as the town and school district continue, year after year, to ask taxpayers for more. And it’s only going to get worse. It’s time to send a message to our elected officials—enough is enough.

Best Monument
Great Barrington Newsboy Statue
Located at the triangle of land formed by the intersection of Newsboy Monument Lane and Maple and Silver streets, the Newsboy statue and fountain was presented to the town on 1895 by Col. William L. Brown, the part-owner of the original New York Daily News. He wanted to celebrate what he considered to be the unsung heroes of the news industry. The bronze newsboy statue itself is only five feet tall but sits atop a pedestal and polished granite column about twice that height. It depicts a young boy holding a copy of the New York Daily News in his right hand with several more copies tucked in his left hand. “It’s a sculpture that’s respected and known worldwide,” Gary Leveille, also a member of the historical commission and himself a former paper carrier for the New Haven Register, told The Record.

Best Inter-town Dispute
School Project
A proposed $56-million renovation project for Monument Mountain Regional High School failed last November. It also brought to light the extent to which Great Barrington pays a disportionate share the Berkshire Hills Regional School District relative to the number of students the town sends to the school. Great Barrington was the only town in the district to vote down funding of the project and it did so by large margins, while Stockbridge and West Stockbridge gave the project a thumbs-up. Many Great Barrington taxpayers are also upset that choice and tuition students pay less than the cost per student at the school, leading many Barringtonians to wonder after the vote, “Why are we building a school for someone’s else’s children?”

Best Building Sale Controversy
Old Great Barrington Firehouse
Ending a seemingly interminable process, the town last year struck a deal to sell the old Castle Street firehouse to a company headed by Rochester, N.Y., businessman Thomas Borshoff for $50,000 and rent back space in the firehouse for the town building and health departments. The old firehouse had remained mostly vacant since the new one opened in 2010 at a cost of $9.1 million. Some Great Barrington taxpayers complained that the sale price of the old firehouse was too low or that the town would be stuck with the costs of the environmental clean-up. Merchants were alarmed about restricted access to an alleyway running behind Railroad Street that would have impeded deliveries of goods because of a restaurant inside the old firehouse that Borshoff had proposed. Passions ran high, but Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin now insists the sale will actually save the town about $2.5 million.

Best Tweeter
@Berk_Courier
If you want up to the minute information about your favorite local sports teams, Mike Walsh is your man. Berkshire Courier sports handle, @Berk_Courier, is consistantly the first and sometimes only place to learn about the action of high school, college, even club team events in the Central Berkshires. His consistent, frequent, and sometimes humorous tweets are insightful and allow for deep analysis of the games and teams you care about.

Best place to take a visitor
Downtown GB
If you are introducing the Berkshires to your friends or family the best spot can be found along Great Barrington’s main street, some of the county’s best restaurants from fine dining to diner cuisine and a multitude of international restaurants. There is sure to be something that regardless of whatever mood your visitor is in they’ll find something to please the pallet. Restaurants just scratch the surface, however, The streets are lined with dozens of local small businesses specializing in clothing, home goods, toys, and more as well as art galleries, a movie theater, two fantastic music shops. There is no lack for browsing. Just peering at the beautiful architecture of each building is enough to enjoy the afternoon. For the nightlife experience, the downtown has some of the best spots to grab a drink and hear some great local bands as well.

Best Expedited Town Meeting
West Stockbridge
If you step outside for a minute you might just miss the entire West Stockbridge Town meeting. Government efficiency at its finest, the 2013 meeting hardly took 45 minutes for residents to approve 34 articles to their warrant including a $4.6 million budget, $2.6 million toward the Monument Mountain school budget, and $40,000 for a new police cruiser. No jabs, arguments or controversy broke out; just a town coming together and agreeing up what they needed to fund.

Best Historical Celebration
W.E.B. Du Bois celebration
2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights pioneer W.E.B. Du Bois, and his hometown made sure to honor their native son with a series of events throughout the year to celebrate his legacy. In February, Arthur E. McFarlane II made the journey to Great Barrington to honor his great-grandfather and tour the cemetery where his grandmother is buried. The DuBois Center then held a “hometown retrospective” bringing scholars, legislators and residents to celebrate his life.

Best About Face
Time Warner agrees
to restore NECN
Never say never. After the company decided it would drop the New England Cable News channel from its South County lineup, hundred of angry viewers called, emailed, and protested the move threatening to drop TWC from their lineup. The move saw angry response all the way to the capital when U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal blasted TWC decision. Despite previously stating their decision was final, the company then reversed its decision and restored the channel to its subscribers.

Best Secret Spot
The Down County
Social Club
Pssst, want to hear some great bands and have a few drinks? You need to know the right spot, and boy does the Berkshires have one. The hidden gem in Sheffield, the club acts as a speak-easy that hosts some of the best musicians from the area, once a week, in the basement of the of the Race Brook Lodge tavern . But fear not, heading there won’t land you in jail, the “Berkshire’s only speakeasy” is one by name only. The spot is a hub for art and artists and is the perfect spot to relax on a Thursday night. A pool table and an rag-tag assortment of seating options give the DCSC a clubhouse vibe and with beer, wine, and music in such an intimate setting you’d think you were sitting in a rehearsal space.

Best Spot To See In Winter
Bartholomew’s Cobble
With pristine views of the Taconic and Berkshire mountains, the site is a beautiful place to visit year round, but come wintertime the site is still a hike-able treasure. The Trustees of Reservations hosts “Hot Chocolate Saturdays” allowing exploration of the beautiful sites as they are in the wintertime with snowshoeing programs taking guests through the trails. To top it all off, when the hike is over, guests can chat over a cup of hot chocolate in the visitors center.

Best spot To See In Fall
Beartown State Forest
People travel from across the country, event across the globe to see New England in fall. The leaf peeping season is a huge driver in the Berkshires and there are plenty of spots and trails to watch the changing of the season unfold. And there is no better spot to be than within one of the biggest state forest in the county at Beartown. Get enveloped in the canopies that surround the beautiful Lake Benedict trail with overlooks of the surrounding peaks to take in the patterns of red and yellow that cover the hillsides. The forest is an absolute must visit during the year, and fall is your best bet to really see the forest for the (changing) trees.

Best Spot To See In Spring
Mount Greylock
For those who don’t make it out to the trails during the winter, as spring arrives hikers rejoice to be able to once again see the beauty in their own back yard. And if its the first hike-able day of spring Mount Greylock should be at the top of the list. The site is the highest point in Massachusetts, with the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Tower at its peak allowing you to scale as far as you can get in Massachusetts. When all you want to do is lay out in the springtime sunshine this is the place to be. And for those who don’t want to make the trek all the way to the top, come May the roads to the peak open up and a short drive brings you to a fantastic view.

Best Town Report
Stockbridge  
Stockbridge was the only town recognized in Berkshire County by the Massachusetts Municipal Association for its town report. The town placed third in the annual contest in the under 5,000 population category.

Best Spot To See In Summer
Bash Bish Falls
State Park
This spot is awesome. The state preserve brings with it heavy foot traffic for good reason. The waterfall is mesmerizing and on a hot summer day, there is nothing better than enjoying the cool mist from the many large boulders that face the falls. Hit the trails for amazing views of the Taconic Mountain range and see some tantalizing pools that dot the Bash Bish Brook that runs all the way to the Hudson River. The trail way runs all the way to Taconic State Park in Copake Falls, N.Y. for an extended summertime adventure. Just make sure you don’t run into any of the Timber Rattlesnakes there.

Best-managed Town
West Stockbridge
In a year when just about every town in Southern Berkshire County dealt with some kind of scandal, West Stockbridge not only kept its nose clean, but enjoyed a revitalization of its downtown, with five new businesses opening this past year. 

Best Beach
Sandy Beach
Lee 
Lee residents have enjoyed this lovely beach on Laurel Lake for 83 years.  Described as “the jewel of Lee”, Sandy Beach is located on private property owned by High Lawn Farm, which loans it to the town for public enjoyment each summer.  Although the town has dealt with occasional incidents of vandalism and excessive alcohol use at the beach, these incidents are firmly in the past. 

Best Political Scare
Toxic Dumps in the Berkshires
As the fight to clean the remainder of the Housatonic River, filled with PCBs from toxic dumping by GE intensified in the Rest of River clean-up Great Barrington was warned in August by Nathaniel Karns, executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, it was in very real danger of host¬ing a PCB landfill situated on the banks of Rising Pond in Housatonic.
GE had purchased property in Lee and Barrington which were included as PCB landfills in early GE versions of how and where the company would prefer to remove and confine PCB-laced sediment removed from Woods Pond in Lenox Dale and Rising Pond in Housa¬tonic. “I don’t give credence to claims it won’t be landfilled here.” Karns said. Fears were eased slightly from EPA Region 1 spokesperson, Jim Murphy, who stated the Rest of the River cleanup plan would mandate that PCB residue be taken to a licensed PCB-treatment facility; none of which exists in the state. However suspicion still remains on what GE will really do once the time comes to clean the river.

Best ResponseTo A Business Scandal
Lenox National Bank 
When you have shocking news, tell your customers immediately, and tell them everything you can.  That’s what Lenox Bank did in early November when it discovered during an audit that two trusted bank tellers, with 40 years of service between them, had allegedly embezzled funds.  After turning the investigation over to the FBI, the bank’s president immediately sent a letter to every customer, then made himself available to the public and the press for any questions they might have.   In response, Lenox poured out its sympathy, support and affection for the bank’s small staff.  High marks for a terrible situation extremely well-handled. 

Best Political Tug Of War
Zurrin vs Egremont BOS
Egremont
At a regular meeting in one corner we had Kevin Zurrin, self-styled gadfly and now a candidate for the Board of Selectmen, and in the other corner, the current Egremont Board of Selectmen. Things got out of control, then they got ugly when Zurrin insisted on videotaping the selectmen’s meeting and the board chairman told him no way. When Zurrin persisted, the chairman resisted, matters took a turn for the worse and the local constabulary was called in to give Zurrin the bum’s rush out of Town Hall. Zurrin asked the state’s attorney general if he would voice an opinion on the unceremonious escort the police gave him. Fast forward, we now have Zurrin running for a seat on the very same board. He has not yet said in his campaign material whether he is for or against future bum’s rushes for supposed disruptive members of the audience.

Best Political contest (south) Smith v. Mittsoff
Sheffield
The battle for a vacant Select Board seat in Sheffield between David Smith Jr. and Martin Mitsoff was one for the ages. The trouble began back in December when Selectman Ted Dobson, a last-minute write-in candidate who had bested Smith in the latter’s reelection bid, resigned. Longtime Sheffield resident Smith ran for the open seat against newcomer Mitsoff in February and prevalied by 11 votes. Mitsoff demanded and received a recount but still came up short.

Best Political Contest (Central)
Bianchi runs unopposed
Pittsfield
The nomination deadline for a second mayoral candidate came and went last August and Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi ended up running unopposed come election time in November, leaving some politicians and city officials scratching their heads. While Bianchi has succeeded in tackling much of Pittsfield’s economic and artistic revitalization, many thought at least one person would rise to the occasion after his first term. City Councilors expressed opinions on both sides of the table, but the overall consensus seemed to illustrate that Pittsfield must be happy with the way things are going. Well, are you?

Best Fall From Grace
Lee police chief
Joseph Buffis
In 12 days, he went from beloved Lee police chief with 33 years on the force to federally-indicted Lee police chief charged with extortion and money-laundering (Aug. 8), to fired Lee police chief for misappropriation of police cell phones for private use (Aug. 20). Despite this swift reversal of fortune, Buffis commands the loyalty and affection of many Lee residents, who say they will suspend judgment on Buffis’s guilt or innocence until he has his day in court this spring.

Best Radio Station
WSBS
Great Barrington
WSBS is the spot on the dial you want to turn to for music, talk, news and more on your radio. With amiable and entertaining DJs the station is a main source of news and information to residents of the Southern Berkshire Region, serving over 200,000 people in the tri-state Berkshire area. As a full-service community station, they make a major commitment to keeping locals up to date on the latest news and information with two full-time news reporters plus hourly reports from the Associated Press’ radio network.

Best Shocker Of The Year
Capitanio arrested
Pittsfield
City Councilor Paul Capitanio shocked everyone when he was indicted this year after being accused of providing his drug dealer with information concerning an upcoming drug raid. He was charged with purchasing nearly $300 of prescription painkillers from the dealer as well. Capitanio was the chairman of the Pittsfield City Council’s Public Health and Safety Subcommittee and fronted a movement against opening a methadone clinic in 2012. He appeared in court in January for a pretrial conference.

Best Unsolved Mystery
The Stackhouse Murder
Stockbridge
In 2005 the death of Jan Stackhouse, a 52-year-old labor organizer, shocked the town of Stockbridge. The discovery of her body on one of the town’s back roads ignited an investigation in the town that had not seen a homicide in more than three decades. The death has remained unsolved, however retiring Police Chief Richard Wilcox has discussed the case with new chief Robert Eaton, and the department will renew the investigation into the case.

Best Dog Park
French Hill Dog Park
Egremont
This park is huge, with wide open spaces that Fido will love. In the hills of Egremont off Baldwin Hill Road, this hidden treasure is a perfect spot to bring your pup to enjoy the afternoon. A beloved site for many Berkshire Dog owners its a great spot for your dog to interact with other, get some exercise, as well as a place to socialize with other dog owners.

Best Place To Walk or Jog
Housatonic River Walk
Great Barrington
If you are looking to blow off some steam or relax take a stroll along the river walk. The Berkshire’s national recreation trail is a greenway in Great Barrington’s downtown with a walk way along the Housatonic River with beautiful natural views just out of sight of the busy down town commercial area. A perfect spot to sit, listen to the soothing flow of water, and relax.

Best Public Park
Lilac Park
Lenox
The Lenox Garden Club restored this lovely park’s original collection of lilacs for all to enjoy while attending the popular Concerts in the Park on Wednesday nights in July and August, craft fairs and a variety of other events held here each year.

Best Male Athlete (South)
Heamon Williams
Lee Wildcats
Williams went from being an all-star Berkshire County soccer goalie to playing football for the resurgent Wildcats this past fall. On the hard-court during the winter months, he became Lee’s all-time leading scorer after registering his 1,000 career point versus Mt. Greylock in Jan. This spring the senior will lead the Wildcats on the diamond, as he is already established as one, if not the best baseball catcher in Berkshire County.

Best Male Athlete (Central)
Claudio Velez
Pittsfield
In a crowded category, Claudio Velez’s individual achievements certainly stand-out. He was the only nominee to make the postseason in both the fall and winter seasons thus far. In the fall, he was the MVP of Pittsfield’s soccer team that had an undefeated regular season. Velez was an elite goal-scorer for the Generals. In the winter, he took to the pool and qualified for Western Mass in the 100 breaststroke.

Runner-Ups
Amancho Adopo, David Jones, Chad Shade, Pat Latini, Harrison Rapant

Best Male Athlete (North)
Sean Ryan-Kut
Hoosac Valley
Sean Ryan-Kut has had some very memorable performances during his senior year. The senior starred for both Hoosac Valley’s basketball and soccer teams. He helped the Hurricanes to South Division titles in both sports, and led the hoops squad to the Western Mass final game with an incredible semifinal performance. He poured in 26 points, while hitting every clutch basket and free throw his team needed to upset undefeated Renaissance. Ryan-Kut assisted on the lone goal that gave HV a win in the Western Mass soccer tournament, as well.

Best Female Athlete (South)
Sam Hoover
Mt. Everett Eagles
Hoover has been the starting Eagle soccer goalkeeper since the eighth grade, as she led her team to their first post-season berth since 2005 this past fall. In the winter, she was a first line defenseman for the Eagles coed hockey team as they substantially improved over their previous season. This coming spring, Hoover will be the cornerstone to the Eagles’ softball team, as they make a run toward a State Championship in June.

Best Female Athlete (Central)
Nyanna Slaughter
Taconic
As a senior captain of teams this school year, Nyanna Slaughter helped lead both to the Western Mass tournament. Both her volleyball and basketball teams picked up tournament wins this year, and she was arguably the best or second best player on both squads. In volleyball, her ability to play both at the net and dig hits off the ground were huge factors in the Lady Braves success. On the basketball court, she was a dominant interior presence and a fearsome defender all over the court.

Best Female Athlete (North)
Jennifer Gale
Hoosac Valley
North County is full of talented female athletes. Few, however have experienced the level of success Jennifer Gale has. So far, her senior year has featured 36 wins and just four losses, between soccer and basketball. Gale helped lead Hoosac Valley to South Division titles in both sports thus far, and has captained the basketball team to a state title berth. In the Western Mass championship game, Gale poured in 28 points. As the Hurricanes’ stopper in soccer, she helped the team post eight shutouts on the year.

Best Coach (South)
Matt Naventi
Monument Mountain Head Soccer Coach
Naventi continues to build and lead a powerhouse soccer program in Berkshire County. His teams routinely go far in the tournament, but more importantly they play with great sportsmanship and class in being one of the best in Western Mass. Naventi’s practices are similar in style and nature as those of professional club teams, while his program has doubled in numbers over his tenure, his players have also routinely go on to play at the next level in college.

Best Team (South)
The Lenox Millionaires
The Lenox Millionaires’ (14-6, Southern Division Champs) basketball team went on to be the most entertaining team to watch over the past two seasons. When they worked together and ran in transition, they were nearly unstoppable, as they beat Division 3 Monument Mountain three times during the year before winning the Southern Division Title outright. Coach Sibley encourages team basketball while letting the kids play freely on the court as the Millionaires were the Berkshire County’s version of ‘Showtime’ over this past season.

Best Coach (Central)
Bill Heaphy
Taconic
The Taconic boys’ basketball team made the best in-season adjustments that could have been asked for, and were playing their best basketball at the right time. Unfortunately, their Western Mass opponent got outrageously hot and knocked them out of the tournament. Coach Heaphy pulled the right strings all year long to get the best out of his stars and elevate the games of his younger guys. He was an excellent coach both in games and after them, while leading the Braves to a North Division title.

Best Coach (North)
Gary Campbell
Wahconah
If coaching one of the most historic and prominent football teams in Berkshire County isn’t tough enough, than you should try being the head coach of Wahconah football. The truth is, Gary Campbell Jr. does the job better than anybody else in Berkshire County and he has the Super Bowl victories to prove it. This past year, the scouting and tactician master of the Warrior program, brought home another Berkshire County Title. From there his team won the Western Mass. Title game before reaching the newly formatted State Semifinal in Division 4.

Best Team (Central)
Pittsfield Lady Generals
No team answered expectations this season like the Pittsfield Lady Generals. Led by plenty of senior leadership, including MVP Nicole Alfonsi, the girls took home another Berkshire County title and advanced all the way to the Western Mass finals. Helmed by head coach Andy Waluszko, Pittsfield got stellar performances all season long from all over the field. PHS overcame injuries and mixed and matched upper and underclassmen to form Central County’s best team.

Best Team (North)
Hoosac Valley Lady Canes
There was no more dominant team in Berkshire County this year, than the Hoosac Valley Girls’ Basketball team. The Lady Canes demolished local competition, finishing the regular season 19-1. In the Western Mass tournament, they won all three of their games by more than 30 points. They defeated Bellingham in the State semifinals, setting up a MIAA championship game with St. Mary’s.

Best Freshman Athlete (South)
Kendra Williams
Lee Wildcats
Williams went on to be one of the most important volleyball players on the Berkshire County Champion Wildcat team this past fall. As a setter she put up astronomical numbers for a freshman, before being one of three freshman starters on the historic Lee basketball team this past season. This spring she will most likely be the Wildcat’s starting pitcher for softball, a team that has a great chance for improvement.

Best Freshman Athlete (Central)
Jessie Tobin
St. Joseph
In a loaded category that featured a handful of rookie stars, it was the accomplishments of St. Joseph swimmer and soccer player Jessie Tobin that took the cake. Tobin helped the Crusaders swimmers to a fantastic overall season, while standing out in individual events. With her help, St. Joe brought two relay teams to the state meet at MIT. While there, she also finished seventh in the 50-yard freestyle and fifth in the 500-yard freestyle.

Best Freshman (North)
Sarah Stripp
Mount Greylock
Sarah Stripp was a major contributor for both Mt. Greylock’s soccer and basketball teams. On the hardwood this winter she started at small forward, doing all the little things the Mounties needed. Stripp was an excellent defender on the soccer field, and experienced from playing with the team as an eighth-grader. She did the same with the basketball squad, actually now in her second season as a freshman. She assimilated perfectly into a high-powered offense, complementing her elder stars very well.

Best Play (South)
Boutiette’s TD
The Best Play of 2014, would have to be Paul Boutiette’s touchdown catch in The Best Game of 2014. On fourth down, Lee quarterback threaded the needle as he connected with Boutiette, who fought for every inch in finding the end zone for the touchdown. The score put Lee up for good, in the epic 13-12 victory over the Spartans. A ‘Game’ and a ‘Play’ that will not be soon forgotten.

Best Play (Central)
Postseason goals by Higuera, Wright
Pittsfield’s Louis Higuera and Amanda Wright each netted postseason goals that gave their teams big victories. Higuera scored with three seconds remaining in overtime of a quarterfinal match against Minnechaug. The score broke a 1-1 tie and placed Pittsfield in the semifinals. Wright’s goal delivered Pittsfield a trip to the Western Mass finals. With a little more than two minutes remaining in the semifinals, her tie-breaking score off a rebound gave the Generals an upset victory over No. 1 Belchertown.

Best Play (North)
Wahconah’s two point conversion
In one of the biggest marquee matchups of the past year, Wahconah’s head coach Gary Campbell Jr. held nothing back in deciding to go for the two-point conversion late in the Hoosac-Wahconah football game this past October. The decision paid off as the Warrior’s Ethan Wells converted the points in helping Wahconah beat previously unbeaten Hoosac 8-7, essentially giving the Warrior’s the Berkshire County Title as the league’s only undefeated team with the one-point victory.

Best Game (South)
Lee v. Monument Mountain football
Lee 13, Monument 12. For the pride of being the best in South County, the Lee Wildcats squeaked by the improving Spartans with a late touchdown by Paul Boutiette. The game itself solidified the fact that this football rivalry is as good as ever. The only thing missing in this game is a catchy nickname and a celebratory trophy. Any suggestions?

Best Game (Central)
Pittsfield v. Taconic
Pittsfield’s new gym was packed, with plenty unable to find seat standing around the perimeter. It was the night meant to honor those involved in creating this brand new place to play basketball. That part of the night was largely overshadowed by the game that took place after. Taconic and Pittsfield met head on, with the host Generals pulling out a win in the closing seconds. Freshman phenom Bryce Daley scored 16 fourth-quarter points for the 71-68 win.

Best Game (North)
Western Mass D II Golf Championship
The best match in North County was the Drury Blue Devil’s win in the Western Mass. Division 2 Golf Championships. In the Western Mass. Tournament match, the Blue Devils were led by Nick Bator who registered a 79 at the Country Club of Wilbraham Drury finished with a team score of 336, five shots ahead of Frontier Regional. The Blue Devils moved onto to the State Final in Sutton on Oct. 28, where they finished 11th overall.

Best Community Center
Berkshire South
Great Barrington
If you are looking to get involved and meet your neighbors in a fun atmosphere Berkshire South is the place to be. With a gym, pool, basketball courts conference rooms there is plenty to do. The center hosts meetings and events that ensure community involvement and interaction. Berkshire South serves its community well.

COMMUNITY: Readers' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Public Official
Lenox accountant Charlie Brown
In his first year in office, Brown whipped Lenox’s books into shape with lightening speed, reversing the town’s recent history of bad audits, missing records and all-around poor record keeping. Thanks to Brown, Lenox’s 2013 audit was its first favorable one in years.

Best Bank
Salisbury Bank
Sheffield
Dedicated to enriching the community they serve, Salisbury Bank not only offers a wide swath of personal and business banking (as well as trust and wealth, retirement planning, personalized investment and mortgage services), but is also committed to new and innovative products and approaches that make the lives of their customers and their community members more rewarding. Between their annual scholarship program and their frequent support to many non-profit organizations in the tri-state area, they have carved their reputation as both a reliable banking institution and a good corporate citizen.
http://www.salisburybank.com

Runner up
Berkshire Bank

Best Small Credit Union
MyCom Federal Credit Union
Pittsfield
Now this is a credit union is a financial institution that treats its members like they own the place, because they do! They are a great small bank for all your needs in Central Berkshire County. If you are looking for a new way to bank, stop in today!

Best Apple Picking
Windy Hill Farms
Great Barrington
For a truly unique horticultural experience and a great day out with the family picking apples, look no farther than Windy Hill Farms, which offer both apple and blueberry picking. On its seven-acre apple orchard, they remain dedicated to seek, grow and offer traditional favorites, including native species as well as cultivars and selections from the United States and abroad.

Runner-up

Bartletts
Richmond

Best Ski Area
Ski Butternut
Great Barrington
Widely regarded as the number one Massachusetts ski resort, Butternut offers wintertime adventures for families and those just learning skiing or snowboarding. With 22 trails stretched out over 110 acres, Butternut is conveniently located in the scenic Berkshire Mountains, perfect for day trips from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Western Mass. With affordable lift tickets and season passes, it’s a great winter vacation destination for the whole family.

Best Pediatric Dentist
Yarmosky Pediatric Dentistry
Great Barrington & Pittsfield
By adhering to its mission to make a difference in every child’s life by creating healthy smiles that last a lifetime, Yarmosky Pediatric Dentistry treats kids with honesty, respect and a sense of humor, while teaching them that developing healthy dental habits is both smart and fun. With efficient, talented and caring staff and state-of-the-art equipment, they provide top quality care in a relaxed atmosphere.

Best Gym & Pool
Kilpatrick Athletic Ctr.
Great Barrington
Housed on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, the Kilpatrick Center is an expansive complex, with 58,000 feet of state-of-the-art exercise and recreational equipment. With classes and programs led by an enthusiastic and committed group of industry professionals and activities that range from swimming and racquetball to yoga and rock climbing, the Kilpatrick Athletic Center creates an environment where members can improve their life quality, find community and challenge themselves through life-long, integrated solutions to health and fitness.

Best College
Berkshire Ccommunity College
Pittsfield
BCC strives to place higher education within the reach of all Berkshire County residents, and remains committed to academic excellence, student success and leadership in the community. With a focus on its core values of integrity, innovation, community engagement and respect for differences, BCC continues to offer a path to higher education and success for Berkshire County residents and beyond.

Best Bowling
Cove Lanes
Great Barrington
The family-owned and operated Cove Lanes is a one-stop destination for bowling fun, complete with full service lounge and snack bar, arcade and two-story, 18-hole indoor mini golf course. Their 24-lane facility is perfect for serious and casual players alike, with plenty of league and tournament options, as well as youth programs, party availabilities and their own “rock n’ bowl” deal offered every Friday and Saturday night.

Best Salon
Michele’s Salon and Day Spa
Great Barrington
For more than 20 years, Michele’s has been providing top-quality expert salon services as well as convenient and flexible scheduling and planning to remove the hassle and accommodate any needs in event preparation. From upscale weddings to low-key romantic getaways, the talented staff and laid-back environment can accommodate parties of any size or need to help you feel and look your best for any special occasion.

Best Limousine Service
Abbott’s Limousine and Livery Service
Lee
The family-owned and operated Abbott’s Limousine has been delivering satisfied customers to their destinations for 48 years. Their solid reputation is built on an attentive concern for detail and the transportation and personal needs of their clients, maintaining the highest standards with their 30 hand-picked full- and part-time drivers, making them the go-to wheelmen for your journey to and from Berkshire County.

Best Art School
The Renaissance
Art School
Great Barrington
The Berkshires are a hot bed of arts so it’s no surprise that they would have an incredible school for arts. Relatively new to the area, Renaissance brings their success from their previous New Jersey locations to Great Barrington offering courses in everything from watercolor painting to hip hop dance classes. Lead by Patricia and Nicholas Navarino the school offers talented teachers to inspire and nurture the artist in you.

Best Trainers
Berkshire Functional Fitness
Great Barrington
As we awake from our winter hibernation and try to maintain those New Year’s resolutions, getting back into shape is a must. It’s a tricky proposition but the right trainer can make all the difference. At Berkshire Functional Fitness, Antoine Alston and his team of six experienced helpful trainers specializing in different backgrounds will aid you into achieving your health and fitness goals with informative and motivational practices no matter what you are going for. The path to a healthier you starts at Berkshire Functional Fitness.

Best Yoga
TriYoga Berkshires
Sheffield
As a community yoga destination, TriYoga Berkshire is more than just another yoga studio. As a community-based non-profit in collaboration with other institutions, they offer inspiring classes in health, music and art. With supportive and experienced teachers, they seek to foster positive energy, creativity and well-being for all ages, means and skill levels, in promoting yoga as both a practice and a way of life.

Best Pet Supplies
Bensdotter’s Pets
Great Barrington
Offering a bit of the conventional, and a bit of the alternative, BensDotter’s Pets has a friendly local atmosphere with carefully selected products for pet dogs, cats and parrots. They have everything from toys and kibbled and canned foods to supplements and medicinal and even all natural chews and treats. Additionally, they offer the very best for those with pets on raw diets, including raw diet supplements and freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. Pet nutrition is the name of the game at BensDotter’s.

Best Credit Union
Greylock Federal Credit Union
Berkshire County
Greylock Federal Credit Union prides itself on reminding its members of one simple fact: When you’re with Greylock, you’re not alone in the world of credit and finances. Offering a wide palette of services expertly tailored services to a wide range of members – from free services like fund collection and credit counseling to convenient financial transaction services, from electronic to snail mail – Greylock Federal Credit Union provides clarity and options via safe and secure financial services for all needs. Greylock treats their members like they own the place... because they do!

Best Music Festival
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival
Norfolk, Conn.
Building on the rich musical tradition surrounding Norfolk since the 19th century, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival continuously draws audiences from all over the country to scenic Northwest Connecticut to take in compelling aural art produced by world-class artists. The passion for some of the best music ever heard by human ears results in one of the most pretstigious musical gatherings in the nation.

Best Museum
Berkshire Museum
Pittsfield
From ancient history and natural science to acclaimed art and everything in between, the diverse collections and exhibits at Berkshire Museum offer a “window on the world” to curious knowledge seekers of any age. Bringing people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking, the museum strives to make inspirational and educational connections among art, history and natural science.

Best Financial Advisor
RBC Wealth Management
Pittsfield
For more than a century, RBC Wealth Management has constantly offered the necessary discipline, strength and stability to build enduring relationships with clients, finding integrated solutions for individual and corporate customers across the globe. They have been named the safest bank in North America, as well as the tenth-safest bank worldwide by Global Finance, which speaks to their uncanny ability to hold the security of their clients’ wealth and livelihood as their highest priority. They have the history of prudent fiscal management to confidently say that there’s wealth in RBC’s approach.

Best School
Rudolf Steiner School, Great Barrington
The Rudolf Steiner School treats education as an art, wherein everything that is taught must speak to a student’s experience and imagination. As an independent coeducation school accredited by the Association of Independent Schools of New England, the Steiner School’s curriculum focuses on a comprehensive integration of the sciences, mathematics, literature and world history with the fine and practical arts and study of cultural heritage. Graduates of the Steiner School leave with an ability to discern and appreciate order and beauty, but also a knack for asking tough, critical questions about life.

Best Place To Stay In South County
Comfort Inn
Great Barrington
Are you a tired traveler heading through town? This is the perfect place to grab some shuteye as you visit Great Barrington. They offer spacious rooms and suites with all the amenities to make your stay comfortable including free high-speed Internet access, complimentary breakfast, microwave/refrigerator, and more.

Best Place To Stay In Central County
Crowne Plaza
Pittsfield
The premiere hotel of the Berkshires, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in the heart of downtown Pittsfield, boasts complimentary high-speed wireless internet in guest rooms, a heated indoor swimming pool, whirlpool, and saunas, a full business center, fitness center, and even a full service day spa. For those too road weary to explore North Street’s bar and restaurant scene, The One West Restaurant & Lounge and The Pub at the Crowne Plaza offer food and drink for guests, as well.

Best Place To visit Outside The Berkshires
Columbia County
If you’re itching to skip town try hopping the border to New York’s Columbia County. One of the hidden gems slowly being discovered by the rest of the state, its a short drive to some incredible towns with rich histories and exceptional attractions. The place to see is the city of Hudson, a cultural epicenter filled with an amazing music and arts scene, some of the best restaurants outside of New York City, and shopping galore along it’s famous Warren Street. Head over to Chatham and take in a movie at the great independently owned Crandal movie theater or a pint at the Chatham Brewery for some fantastic brews, or take a drive through the counties beautiful rolling hills and see the area’s agricultural backbone.

Runner-Up
Litchfield County

Best Hosptial
(Central)

BMC - Berkshire
Medical Center
Pittsfield
Professional, thorough and trustworthy barely scratch the surface of why Berkshire Medical Center is the best. The 302 bed community hospital offers a full continuum of medical specialties. BMC was ranked among the top 100 hospitals and has received numerous nation awards as well as a recognition from the American Heart Association American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, American College of Radiology and other national associations for its commitment to quality patient programs.

Best Hosptial
(South)

Fairview
Great Barrington
There is a reason this hospital has been around for a century. The historic Fairview Hospital is a top notch medical center, part of the Berkshire Health Systems family, offering a full range of primary services as well as their celebrated Family Birthplace center, which received the baby-friendly award in 2013. Their 24-hour emergency department is on hand to make sure you are given fast care by their experienced medical team.

Best Community Health Plan
CHP
Berkshire County
CHP’s mission is to measurably improve the health of Berkshire County, MA residents. Every day, county residents with longstanding health issues come to one of CHP’s health centers; many are afraid—that they can’t pay for care, that they won’t be able to get better—or are in pain.  CHP’s compassionate and caring health professionals offer their patients high quality health care and in process, a pathway toward health. Each year, CHP makes a difference in more than 15,500 people’s lives.


SHOPPING: Editors' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Town For Tag Sales
Sheffield
For those looking for a fun afternoon out in the open air, or people hoping to furnish their apartment on the cheap side, tag sales are a wonderful thing. And the town, by far, for pawing through the relics of complete strangers is Sheffield. The plethora of antique stores hint at attics bursting with forgotten and unwanted things, and the beneficiary is you –armed with $20 in cash and barely solvent. Go down Route 7 and get your three-legged coffee table.

Best Town
Swap Shack
Monterey
Tag sales too expensive for your taste or budget? Hit up Monterey’s swap shack. Now, you need to have the town transfer sticker, but for the grand price of $50, you can dump your trash and pick up someone else’s unwanted material goods every week, without having to dig through the dumpster. The swap shack is a veritable goldmine for books, once you get past the horrors of the 1970’s paperbacks. And who knows, you might also pick up a muffin pan while you’re at it. And, yes, it’s all free.

Best Farmer’s Market
Great Barrington
All right, it’s the Berkshires. The whole county is a Farmer’s Market, once the growing season finally hits. But if you like to mix a little seeing-and-being-seen in with your virtuous shopping, go to Great Barrington. Yes, the parking is a bit crazy, but it always is in Great Barrington. It’s part of the fun. Get your organic salad greens while dodging people, vendors and small dogs, all before noon on the weekends. It’s a good cardio work-out, too.

Best Bookstore
The Bookloft
Great Barrington
Need a book and can’t wait for Amazon to ship your paperback in 14 days? Go to the Bookloft. Yes, it’s in a strip mall and within sniffing distance of the famous Golden Arches, but it’s a really good book store. They have the obligatory tables of cheap books outside, and they even have poetry readings indoors. And while the used book section can be a little thin, they do have a lot of local authors. Go support your neighbors and buy their books at an independent bookstore. The overwhelming feeling of satisfaction is on the house.

Best Music Store
The Music Store
Great Barrington
A destination for players of all instruments, The Music Store is a veritable paradise for guitar players, offering an expansive variety of instruments fit to every budget, from great bargains on used instruments to professional-level, hand-made guitars that would make any luthier proud. They’re also an excellent resource for instrument maintenance, offering extremely beneficial and affordable services to keep your baby tuned up and sounding great.

Best Nitche Music Shop
The Magic Fluke
Sheffield
With over 50,000 instruments sold over 13 years of exceptional service, the only name in ukuleles in the Berkshires is the best destination in the area for sturdy, affordable and reliable ukes. Specializing in fluke and flea models, all of their reliable products are proudly and solidly built in the U.S. with only the finest regionally-sourced wood and materials.

Best Antique Furniture
Susan Silver Antiques
Sheffield
Beautiful antiques abound in the marketplace, but what Susan Silver buys must possess that little extra that elevates a piece from the very nice to the exceptional. Since leaving a career creating sets for commercial film and advertising, she has put her zeal and stylist’s eye to work searching out and hand-picking the best quality items for her shop. For over 30 years her regular trips to England and the continent always include a great deal of time and effort spent seeking out these unique objects. Special emphasis is always on the unusual and one of a kind forms of English furniture and craftsmanship.

Best Seafood and Produce
Guido’s Ffresh Marketplace
Great Barrington
Guido’s harmoniously blends a classic marketplace atmosphere with up to the minute goods and services, including an exceptionally fresh and robust produce section and a mouthwatering seafood selection. For those looking for natural, organic and additive-free food products, Guido’s is a destination for the discriminating food shopper seeking great seafood and the veggie on the side.

Best Outdoor Power Equipment
Pittsfield Lawn & Tractor
Pittsfield
There is no questioning why they are one of Western Massachusetts’ largest and most trusted power equipment and snowmobile dealers. No matter what you need they have it, their large in-stock inventory includes equipment manufactured by John Deere, Bobcat, Yanmar, Ski-Doo, Can-Am, Arctic Cat, Kawasaki Utility Vehicles, STIHL, Husqvarna, Woods Equipment, Honda Power Equipment and several other well known manufacturers.

Best Nursery
Ward’s
Great Barrington
How about a gardening store that is home to over 1,400 perennial selections? That is a winner for sure. Ward’s has been a fixture in Great Barrington since 1957 for great plants and even better service. Ward’s even has a 10,000-sq. ft. retail greenhouse that allows shoppers to peruse the aisles rain or shine.

Best Homemade Chocolates
H.R. Zeppelin
Great Barrington
This new wonder can be found on 70 Railroad Street next to the Triplex. Their loving employees handcraft chocolate in small batches using fine organic and local ingredients. As always special orders are a pleasure for this great store to create.

Best Vanilla
Charles Baldwin and Sons
West Stockbridge
Was there really any doubt? For over 125 years they have been a must see locations and still today it is in the family. The present owner, Earl Baldwin Moffatt, is the great-great grandson of the founder.

Best Local Antique Dealer
Charles Flint
Lenox
Their store is a fine art and antiques gallery located in the heart of the beautiful Berkshires doing business locally, nationally, and internationally. For over forty years Charles Flint Fine Art & Antiques has been buying, selling and appraising well listed American and European artists, antiques, folk art and other collectables.

Best Shoes
Jack’s in the berkshires
Great Barrington
When you’ve worn the treads all the way down on your shoes turn to Jack’s in the berkshires to lace you up. They have a huge selection of athletic, hiking, and fashionable footware for men and women. Try a pairon today to tackle the hills and peaks of the Berkshires. With sales throughout the year as well as numerous outdoor accessories you might find yourself heading there for shoes and leaving with much, much more.

Best Hardware Store
Carr Hardware
Great Barrington, Lee, Pittsfield, North Adams
With four locations across Berkshire County all equipped with professional staff, Carr Hardware offers tools, supplies, and services for almost any project. Rental equipment for lawn and gardening and tent and concession rentals for weddings and events are available at most locations. They are members of the American Rental Association and offer TrueValue rewards.

Best Place To Buy Gourmet Cheese
Locke, Stock & Barrel
Great Barrington
Locke, Stock & Barrel is a small, family-run gourmet grocer serving specialty food and wine for nearly 50 years. Their connections with local and international suppliers help them offer a variety of great products—both unique and obscure. Customers rave about their impressive cheese case, featuring numerous cheeses, mindfully complimented by their eclectic vintage wine selection. They also offer regular tastings.

Best Convenience Store (Central)
Greenridge Variety
Dalton
This large, newly expanded variety store borders Pittsfield and offers beer, wine, food, tobacco products, and other convenient items. The family-owned store has a full deli with affordably priced grinders, soups, and hot food, including fresh breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They often hold specials on alcohol and stock beer from Yuengling Brewery, recently released in Massachusetts.

Best Convenience Store (South)
O’Connell’s Conv. Plus
Great Barrington
A convenience store is a necessity in town to both visitors and locals a like, and O’Connell’s is the place you need to stop at when you make your way into South County. A healthy supply of goods, local and national newspapers, coffee, tobacco, last minute convenience items, food and a well stocked beer shelf make stopping at O’Connell’s a winner for best idea as well. They also are connected with Shell gas pumps to fuel you through your next adventure in the Berkshires.

Best Place to Buy a Scooter
IMS Scooters
Rockland
IMS Scooters stocks a variety of scooters based on style, agility, and adventurous appeal, ranging from $649 to $1,400. Some may enjoy the stylish blue Victoria model, while others may the 3,000-watt force electric model. They also have a 6,000 square foot Parts & Service center, stocking nearly $100,000 in parts for service on all makes and models at a competitive rate.

Best Place to Buy a Remote Car Starter
Anthony’s Automotive
Pittsfield
As another lengthy winter comes to a close, Berkshire residents thinking ahead to next season may already be looking into purchasing a remote car starter. Anthony’s Automotive installs remote car starts with 1,000 feet of range and two remotes, starting at $179.99. With 17 year of experience in the auto electronic industry, Anthony’s automotive is the place to go for headlights, car alarms, and audio and video equipment.

Best Music Store (Central)
Wood Bros. Music
Pittsfield
Stretching as far back as 1880, Wood Bros. Music has supplied Berkshire County with musical instruments and accessories for upwards of a century. Today, they continue to operate with the same great reputation, selling new and used guitars, drum kits, and pianos, among others. They also offer a wide variety of fine rental gear and equipment and offer lessons from reputable instructors.

Best Inspirational Gifts
Nelson’s Jewelry & Gifts
Pittsfield
Established in 1949, Nelson’s Jewelry & Gifts carries an incredible selection of quality jewelry and positive, spiritually inspired gifts for all occasions. They have earrings for sensitive ears, clip earrings, necklaces, and fashionable bracelets for weddings and special events at unbeatable prices ($5 each or five for $20). They also stock some clothing, including a wonderful selection of scarves.

Best Art Supplies
Renaissance Art Center
Great Barrington
Living in the Berkshires is an artists dream, and when your paint supplies run dry the best spot to restock is the art supply store at the Renaissance Art Center. With shelves well stocked with water, oil and acrylic colors, crayons and chalk, high-end sketch and drawing pads, brushes, and even henna paint gift sets what ever your need, you’ll be able to find it at their store. Open seven days a week, no matter when creativity strikes you, you’ll be able to put paint to pad and the store offers discounts to all art center students. Who better to trust with the right tools then the people who know art and prepare the next generation of great artists.

Best New Jeweler
Lennox Jewelers
Great Barrington
The new kids on the block, Lennox Jewlers made an entrance in style. Great Barrington’s only full-service jewlery store their incredible selection of diamonds, diamond jewlery colored gemstone jewelry, gold and silver jewelry, and famous name brand watches will make sure you look your best accentuating any wardrobe. They offer on site ring sizing, dianmond setting, jewlery repare watch batteries and bands and watch repairs. Or bring in a piece for a custom engraving that will turn any gift into a cherished keepsake.

Best Gallery
Lichtenstein Center for the Arts
Pittsfield
This community arts center in Pittsfield’s Upstreet Cultural District is an art gallery and performance area that is host to workshops, working artist studios, and even has a dark room. The Lichtenstein features work of local and regional artists and crafts people of all types, rotating approximately every month. Annual exhibits include the Berkshire Artists Association (BAA) Fellowship show, high school art show and Ten Spot, shown in conjunction with the 10X10 Upstreet Arts Festival

Best Treasure Chest
Sachs Reisman
Sheffield
There is no better place to build up your plunder than with the finest jewelry in the Berkshires. Fill your treasure chest with the diamonds, gold and silver of Sachs Reisman. Since 1981 they’ve specialized in dazzling with the exquisite pieces such as rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants, bracelets, and rpins and brookches. Look like royalty with their superior quality diamonds individually selected to match their owner and colorful gemstone rings will flash as a perfect accessory. When you are ready to take the next step with your significant other, Sachs has a huge selection of engagement sets and wedding rings that will leave her speechless. And Anniversary rings to celebrate a long lasting love the right way. Whatever your treasure, Sachs is sure to have the piece that will become a precious family heirloom.

Best Import Repair
West Automotive
Pittsfield
If you are driving an import, the only place for repairs is West Automotice. The trusted professionals have been fixing foreign cars for years, with professionals who know and love automobiles. They service all makes but specialize in Honda and Toyota cars and trucks. They are ASE certified and ready, no matter how stressful the work may seem, to do everything they can to make sure you feel welcome and comfortable in a clean setting. Services include breaks, exhausts, suspensions, steering, Air conditioning, tires and even computer diagnostics.

Best Clock Shop
West Side Clock Shop
Pittsfield
A clock is more than just a functional time keeper, it can be a precious work of art for your home and in the future an heirloom. The people at West Side Clock Shop have understood this, offering a wide selection of new and antique clocks for the past 35 years. From beautifully hand carved German Black Forest Cuckoo Clock to modern clocks from the Westminster Time Company in Ontario, The shop also provides repairs to bring your clock back to life your cherished family clock. Located at 449 North Street, Pittsfield. Open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit their website at westsideclockshop.com (413) 442-5484.

SHOPPING: Readers' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Pet Supplies
Bensdotter’s Pets
Great Barrington
Offering a bit of the conventional, and a bit of the alternative, BensDotter’s Pets has a friendly local atmosphere with carefully selected products for pet dogs, cats and parrots. They have everything from toys and kibbled and canned foods to supplements and medicinal and even all natural chews and treats. Additionally, they offer the very best for those with pets on raw diets, including raw diet supplements and freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. Pet nutrition is the name of the game at BensDotter’s.

Best Jeweler
Zabian’s Fine Jewelers
Lee
Since 1985, Zabian’s has prided itself on offering the absolute finest in jewelry and watches. Owner Mohamed Zabian is a seasoned gemologist, with expertise in diamonds and gems, and a specialty in custom design. As a highly respected jeweler in the Berkshires as well as throughout the nation, they provide their loyal customers with a memorable shopping experience.

Best Pottery Store
Sheffield Pottery
Sheffield
Supplying ceramic supplies for artists, craftsmen, school and industry since 1946, Sheffield Pottery is the one-stop destination for anything ceramics or pottery related. Growing over the years from their start with a 6’x6’ kiln over six decades ago, their 26,000-foot production warehouse is matched only by their extensive and exquisite retail selections in their showrooms, building on an earned reputation for premium quality products, excellent customer service and dependability.

Best Yarn/Knitting Store
Wonderful Things
Great Barrington
Featuring the largest selection of yarn, needlework, handcrafted gifts and craft supplies in the Berkshires, Wonderful Things stocks yarn as far as the eye can see – five full rooms piled to the ceiling with everything from hand-dyed and sock yarn to unique specialty yarns, such as Paternayan Persian yarn. On top of their massive yarn selection, they also sell needlepoint and knitting kits, as well as handcrafted gifts such as jewelry, wooden toys, dolls, hand-blown glass and pottery, making it a one-stop destination for anyone looking for a special hand-crafted gift – or looking to create one themselves.

Best Precious Metals
Pittsfield Precious Metals
Pittsfield
Pittsfield Precious Metals’  large, diversified selection of antique, estate and contemporary jewelry, diamonds and precious stones features exquisite items made from sterling silver, pocket and wristwatches and quality collectibles and accessories, as well as porcelain and art glass pieces. With a gemologist and licensed and bonded auctioneer on premises, they’re also an authorized PCGS and NGC coin dealer, and have helpful advisory services for fast and profitable liquidation of assets.

Best Paint Store
Lee Hardware
Lee
Lee Hardware is the place to start a project off right, and that goes double for anything that needs a coat of paint. Since the 1950s, Lee Hardware Store, Inc. has been serving commercial, industrial and residential customers, and has earned a solid reputation through friendly and knowledgeable staff, sound advice and the best service. In their Benjamin Moore Signature Store paint section, you’ll find myriad of colors available in samples, as well as the necessary equipment and know-how to bring your paint project ideas to life.

Best Foreign Auto Repair
Bob Denley’s Foreign Car and Park St. Tire
Lee
Specializing in foreign auto repair, Bob Denley’s combines excellent service and a friendly approach with a deep and constantly updated body of knowledge and experience in repairing and extending the life of your car. With special equipment to evaluate and efficiently test any problems your car may have, their staff is happy to answer customers’ questions, and can also advise the ideal products to use to extend the life of your automobile. Additionally, they’re also the only authorized stocking tire dealer in the tri-town area.

Best Shoes
Barrington Outfitters
Great Barrington
Discriminating shoe-shoppers from far and near have made Barrington Outfitters the sole destination for shoes and boots in the Berkshires. With an excellent selection of great products – including great deals and steals on their outside sale rack during the warmer months – as well as helpful and friendly staff, Barrington Outfitters is the perfect place to think on your feet.

Best Men’s Clothing (South)
Zabian’s Ltd.
Lee
In addition to their fine jewelry offerings, Zabian’s also offers a wide array of quality menswear for any discriminating eye of male fashion. On top of their diverse offerings of formal wear, casual wear and tuxedo rentals, you can also pick out a sleek hat or stylish pair of shoes. They also have a big and tall department for clothing that fits the needs of men of any size.

Best Men’s Clothing (Central)
Steve Valiente
Pittsfield
Guys, in the never ending battle of looking good, make Steve Valenti’s your fashion arsenal. This up-beat, contemporary men’s clothing store has been providing quality menswear since 1983. From suits and sport coats and sportswear to dress shoes and leather accessories whatever you need to dress for the occasion is at your fingertips from top brands. They also will help you suit up for prom season and special occasions with an amazing formal wear section and tuxedo rentals with staff ready to outfit you to make whatever the evening is, incredible.

Best Women’s Clothing Store
Louisa Ellis
Great Barrington
Louisa Ellis’s posh boutique of women’s fashion, with an impressive selection of clothing, jewelry and handbags, is the perfect place to keep your finger on the pulse of the Fall runway shows’ iconic looks, without the hassle of shopping in NYC. It has quickly built a solid reputation with a large, loyal fan base from far and near for its convenient and high quality offerings.

Best Toy Store
Tom’s Toys
Great Barrington
For more than a decade and a half Tom’s Toys has been the place to go for a great selection of quality toys for tots of all ages. Featuring an ever-growing collection of more than 20,000 toys ranging from games, dolls and puzzles to science, arts and crafts and infant/toddler toys, if  you can’t find the toy you’re looking for at Tom’s, it probably doesn’t exist yet.

Best Ski Shop
Ski Butternut
Great Barrington
Voted the number one ski shop in New England by the New England Winter Sports Reps Association, Butternut’s full service ski shop at their on-mountain location at the base of their iconic resort has earned the reputation as one of the highest quality ski and snowboard shops in the region.

Best Gourmet Food & Wine Store

Locke, Stock and Barrel
Great Barrington
The readers have spoken again, for the second year in a row, Locke Stock and Barrel is the best spot for the widest and best selection of gourmet grocery options, whether it’s natural foods, wine, regional and local foods. With a slew of foodstuff selections that are as delicious as they are unique, it’s hard to even get out of the parking lot before diving into your shopping bag and trying out what you’ve bought. Of particular note is their cheese selection, largely considered the best in Western Mass. They also make customized gift baskets so you can share their bounty with others.

Best Art Supplies Store
JWS Art Supplies
Great Barrington
For artists, fine design minds or those with creative and quirky taste, JWS Art Supplies has everything one could ever desire. They have an exhaustive permanent stock of various paints, oils and acrylics, pencils, markers, pastels and other writing and drawing instruments, brushes, canvases, easels, and pretty much anything else an art studio could possibly need. They’ve also got one-of-a-kind funky office supplies, as well as photo albums, journals, stationery – everything. And if everything wasn’t enough, they also exercise the space above their product racks as an informal gallery space for local artwork.

Best Florist
Wildflowers
Great Barrington
Wildflowers takes pride in delivering the freshest and most aesthetically-minded floral arrangements, using only the highest quality flowers and hand-arranging and hand-delivering all arrangements to the recipient. Whether it’s a seasonal centerpiece, a carefully-arranged basket or the perfect bouquet for any occasion, when you need the freshest flowers in the Berkshires, you can rely on Wildflowers. With their selection, you’ll go wild.

Best Home Care Pharmacy
O’Laughlins
Dalton
Owned by Steve Walczyk for over 30 years, O’Laughlin’s Home Care Pharmacy serves Berkshire County and surrounding areas with the delivery of quality prescription and non-prescription products to patients and local Assisted Living Communities. Prescriptions are always filled in a timely manner and their knowledgeable staff provides seasonal flu immunizations and shingles vaccines, as well as fully accredited Medicare billing.

Best Consignment Shop

Threds
Great Barrington
Going retro has never been more fashionable and affordable than at Threds, the one-stop destination for used and vintage clothing. Featuring one-of-a-kind vintage clothing, as well as new retro clothing and exclusive designs by local designers and artists, they’ve also got a slew of great accessories from the fine (such as body jewelry and tapestries) to the quirky (incense and oils, Zippo lighters) and everything in between.

Best Bike Shop
Berkshire Bike and Board
Great Barrington
Berkshire Bike and Board is passionate about bikes, which means they’re eager to set each and every customer up with exactly what they’re looking for in a quality bicycle for the safest, most durable and most fun ride possible. With comfort and safety built into every bike, they stand behind their craft in every way possible: Test rides for any bike; a lifetime of free tune-ups with the purchase of a new bike; and every bike they sell is guaranteed to offer the highest quality, longest life and best resale value around. With their wide selection of quality accessories, it’s clear they are the place to go to get your wheels turning.

Best Auto Detailer
Larkin LTD
Great Barrington
Larkin is the one and only stop for any and all vehicle detailing needs. With 6 different detailing package options and pickup and delivery service offered, they can handle any vehicle – from small cars and motorcycles to RVs and boats. In addition to their normal detail offerings, they also perform excessive pet hair and odor removal, window tinting, headlight restoration and more. Servicing all varieties of vehicles from small businesses to local law enforcement, no job is too big or too detailed for their dedicated and careful approach.

Best Auto Body Repair
Carlson Auto Body
Lee
The professionalism and hard work at Carlson Auto Body is what allows them to get any auto body repair job done on time, as expected and for competitive affordable prices. Always friendly and courteous in their service to customers, they are the go-to specialists for any auto body repair needs.

Best Handmade Gifts
Out of Hand
Great Barrington
From the quirky to the sophisticated, the fashionable to the fun, Out of Hand’s impressively expansive inventory has a huge selection of everything from clothes, tapestries, furniture, fine glass and just about everything else if you’re looking for a unique gift for anyone on your list, or an item to spruce up the décor of any interior.

Best Camera Shop
The Snap Shop
Great Barrington
Since 1972, The Snap Shop has been the region’s one-stop destination for everything photography. Always happy to chat about cameras, pictures or photo projects, their customer service is nearly as unmatched as their wide array of available services, which includes not only camera repair and film developing, but also old photo copying and retouching/restoration, slide scanning, printing from black and white negatives, darkroom chemicals, and basically anything else someone with a camera could possibly need.

Best Luxury Auto Dealer
Flynn VW, Audi, BMW
Pittsfield
Once a Flynn customer, always a Flynn customer. Why? Because they enjoy meeting and exceeding the high expectations for a luxury auto dealer. Their commitment to excellence is rooted in treating each  customer with paramount concern. Their organized and efficient dealership office is staffed by a friendly, knowledgeable staff who give individualized care to help you drive off with the vehicle you’re looking for with all questions answered and all concerns taken care of.

Best Auto Insurance
Viale Insurance Agency
Lee
As a third generation family company, Viale Insurance continues to follow the same mission they’ve followed for the better part of a century – to meet the insurance needs of Southern Berkshire County. Always available for a free review and evaluation of anyone’s present coverage, they’re committed to seeing their clients properly protected. Treating customers as more than just a number, they strive to offer personalized service to each individual who comes through the door, echoing their motto of “our customers, our neighbors, our friends.”

Best Pharmacy (South)
CVS
Great Barrington
At the Barrington CVS, when it comes to pharmacy and prescription service, “we’re at your service” is more than just a clichéd expression. With expert care and service and a focus on value and convenience to the customer, they offer myriad services that make it easier than ever to fulfill prescription needs. Their text alerts, mobile pharmacy management and ReadyFill automatic prescription filling options aid in tailoring their services to your schedule. Additionally, they help customers stay in the know with their Care 1on1 personalized review offered whenever a new prescription is transferred, on top of several online sources to keep customers informed, like the drug information center, pill identifier and drug interaction warnings.

Best Pharmacy (Central)
Flynn’s Pharmacy
Pittsfield
Flynn’s Pharmacy and Home Medical Equipment is a family-owned business that has been serving Berkshire County for more than 50 years. As Pittsfield’s only accredited independent pharmacy, Flynn’s provides a variety of pharmacy services, including prescription filling, direct insurance billing, free blood pressure checks, respiratory therapy, and medication counseling. They also offer respiratory care products and home delivery for those in need.

Best Gift Shop
Karen Keenan’s Gifts
and Home
Lee
Candles, fashion, toys, home décor, cards, baby toys and clothes, framed pictures, knick-knacks, potpourri – it’s hard NOT to find what you’re looking for at Karen Keenan’s Gifts. And on the off chance you can’t find it, the friendly and helpful staff will gladly help out. Whether it’s a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary or just an anytime gift, Karen’s should be everyone’s first stop.

Best Towing
R.W.’s Towing
Lee
As the towing and recovery experts of Western Mass., R.W.’s pride themselves on their extremely professional service made possible by their constantly updated modern facilities and equipment. As an AAA-affiliated institution with a full range of towing equipment, they can handle all towing needs no matter how specialized, including motorcycles, exotic cars, fully-loaded tractor trailers and much, much more. They also have car rentals for business and travel uses to better accommodate and serve customers.

Best Imported Antiques
Cupboards and Roses
Sheffield
The fact that owner and operator Edith Gilson still has the impassioned soul of a collector after more than two decades antiques dealing in the Berkshires has earned her a reputation for her discerning eye and expert knowledge when it comes to European and Scandinavian furniture. In addition to chests, tables, commodes, desks and more, Cupboards and Roses’ collection of German and Austrian armoires and hope chests is one of the most extensive in the world. Gilson’s eye for detail has garnered a collection both expansive and exquisite.

Best Audio and Home Theater Equipment
Tune Street
Great Barrington
No matter where it is you’re trying to put a speaker around your home, Tune Street has all the products and know-how necessary to help you get a one-of-a-kind, high quality audio or home theater system. Bookshelf speakers, standing speakers, landscape speakers, they’ve got it all, and at price-protected value. And for the audiophiles, they’ve got all their products lined up and ready to be blown away by, so you know exactly what kind of experience you’re bringing home with you. They even have nifty home automation products that allow you to conveniently and efficiently stream a range of household systems such as music, video, security, lighting, HVAC and networking into one point of interface and contact. When your entertainment room needs a facelift, head to Tune Street.

Best Stationery
Paperdilly, Inc.
Lee
Does anyone out there really and truly enjoy shopping for stationery and office supplies? That’s why Paperdilly’s streamlines the process as much as possible with one-stop shopping for all your stationery and office supplies needs. In addition to myriad paper products, they have cards, art supplies, fax and computer supplies, maps, fine writing instruments, stamps, checks, invitations - pretty much anything you could possibly be in the paper market for. They also offer special orders, as well as dry mounting, matting and custom picture framing services. For all those needs and more, Paperdilly Inc. helps you streamline it and get it done.

Best New Auto Dealer
Haddad Automotive
Pittsfield
More than eight decades of service to Berkshire customers has made Haddad synonymous with quality selection, excellent prices and friendly service. Whether you’re looking for a premium make and model to get from A to B in style or a reliable, affordable vehicle for the whole family, Haddad has all the bases covered. Their courteous and honest staff will make sure you’re leaving the lot with the vehicle you need.

Best Storage Facilities
B-Safe Storage
Lee
Whether you’re looking for on-site storage facilities or portable storage, B-Safe Storage is the number one choice for the solution to storage needs. Offering cost-effective, flexible solutions tailored to meet the individual needs of any customer, the safety and security of their well-lit on-site facilities and the convenience and flexibility of their portable storage units provide the storage expertise for whatever you need to keep safe, secure and stored, even autos.

Best Liquor Store
Domaney’s Liquors
Great Barrington
Since 1973, Domaney’s has supplied the widest selection of best products at the best prices in the Berkshires for beer, wine and spirits. Their eye-popping inventory, from the highly affordable to the finest discriminating tastes – their ever-present specials are tough to beat – is complimented regularly by fun community events such as wine and beer tastings as well as showcases from breweries, vineyards and distilleries from near and far.

Best Family Clothes Shopping
Ben’s
Lee
Amidst the depersonalized, cookie-cutter big-box clothing stores, friendly, hometown customer service makes Ben’s stand out and stand tall. Serving the Berkshires for eight decades, they offer high-quality brands to suit everyone’s needs, from toddlers’, children’s, women’s and men’s, including men’s big and tall department, as well as a generous footwear selection.

Best Country Department Store
Jack’s Country Squire
Great Barrington
Just because you’re out in the country doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a good shopping experience. Jack’s Country Squire offers high-quality clothing and footwear for the entire family, with a huge selection of the finest name brands. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you can find here with the aid of their ever-courteous and helpful staff, who dutifully tend to the individual clothing needs of each customer.

Best Diy Store
Ed Herrington, Inc.
Hillsdale, N.Y.
As a fourth-generation family-owned and operated building supplies business, Ed Herrington, Inc. is the one stop destination for construction or restoration supplies and assistance. In addition to their special order millwork, they offer services such as in-house blueprint copying, digital paint color matching and professional power tool repair, as well as available rental equipment from power washers to floor sanders and much more. They even provide architectural assistance if needed, with blueprint specifications and job management.


DINING: Editors' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best New Restaurant Name
Da Kota
It is not even open yet but come on, how can you not give it to them? Located on the Lenox-Pittsfield border, the Dakota was a Berkshires institution since 1984. Now it will house a sushi place with a name that honors the tradition — come on, you know you want to go.

Best Reason To Pig Out
Chef X
There are a lot of reasons to pig out in the Berkshires. Every town has their own restaurants to be proud of serving amazing courses all year long. But once a year the Berkshires teams up with their route 23 corridor peers inviting chefs from Hudson N.Y. in a new tradition called Chef X Swap. Some of the best Berkshire chefs head over for a weekend in Hudson, and vice versa with offerings from some of the most mouth watering dishes their NY neighbors can cook up. It’s a great opportunity to sample fine cuisine from another county and more than enough reason to get seconds (or thirds).

Best New Restaurant (South)
528 Café
Great Barrington
Losing a Friendly’s in Western Massachusetts seems heart breaking. But this new gem has helped mend our broken hearts. From the moment the place opened late last fall it has drawn big crowds that always leave happy. Open seven days a week, if you need a quick bite stop in!

Best New Restaurant (Central)
Mazzeo’s Ristorante
Pittsfield
After only recently moving to their new, larger location on lower South Street, Mazzeos continues to make a name for itself with its staying power. The acclaimed Italian restaurant uses fresh ingredients to build an impressive menu of pasta, chicken, veal, and seafood. They also have a large selection of premium wines. Stay for their homemade desserts or have an after-dinner drink by their large outdoor fire pit in the summer.

Best Restaurant
Cafe Adam
Great Barrington
Delicious, delicious, delicious! Cafe Adam is consistent where it counts, quality. The best restaurant in a very stacked competition, Cafe Adam continues to be the spot for dinner, lunch or brunch. Their top notch chefs, bartenders, servers and staff come together to serve incredible new American cuisine with fresh, locally sourced ingredients from Monterey, Richmond and right in Great Barrington. If you are looking to dine out, Cafe Adam is the place.

Best Bakery
Berkshire Mountain Bakery
Housatonic
Owned and operated by a man who loves to bake, Richard Bourbon opened the bakery in 1985 and hasn’t looked back since. Steeped in the tradition of European style baking, Berkshire Mountain Bakery offers artisanal sourdough breads using whole grain flour for an absolutely delicious experience packed with nutrients. They also offer “Take N’ Bake” pizzas with a variety of toppings for a treat when you want it.

Best Gone Restaurant
Fiori
Great Barrington
This small Italian restaurant used to be situated quaintly at the end of Railroad Street. Offering an extensive selection of fine wine, beer, and cocktails, they prided themselves on their popular pasta dishes, including hand rolled pasta with exotic mushrooms, beautifully prepared and presented. It will certainly be missed, but the good news is that it has been replaced by Mario’s, a moderately priced delicious Italian restaurant for the whole family.

Best Romantic Restaurant
The Old Mill
Egremont
Whether it’s a first date or your 25 anniversary, set the right mood by taking him or her out to the Old Mill. The cozy feeling in its wood frame interior and low ceiling, its dimly lit dinning area that adds to the ambiance, and its location right next to a winding picturesque creek will help add to the story book evening you’ll want. And one of the best restaurants in the Berkshires, you are guaranteed a quality meal to top it all off.

Best Duck
Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar
Lenox
There’s a reason this dish is one of the few mainstays on Alta’s ever-rotating seasonal menu – it’s always a knockout. Pan-seared to perfection and served in hearty proportions, it’s cooked just right at medium rare for that pink in the middle, melt in your mouth finish that’s so tender you won’t even need your knife to cut it. It’s topped off with a sinfully sweet and salty caramel sauce and served atop a velvety cloud of mashed potatoes and a bed of locally sourced veggies for a near-unbeatable culinary experience.Served on a creamy cloud of mashed potatoes, it’s flanked by locally-sourced mushrooms, tomatoes and broccoli, for an earthy crunch and some added color to the meal’s delightful presentation.

Best Pot Roast
Perigee Restaurant
Lee
Perigee’s superb take on a New England classic will fill the heartiest appetites. With massively thick chunks of juicy braised beef, so tender it barely stays together on your fork, the mammoth mountain of meat is joined by a myriad of fresh fall veggies, including crisp Brussels sprouts, hearty roasted potatoes, pearl onions, lightly sweet glazed carrots and the smooth savor of butternut squash. It’s topped off with delectable pan gravy that softens up the already tender brisket even more and fills the dish with a rich, mouthwatering savor. Complete the savor with fresh cracked black pepper atop and bon appétit.

Best Pork Chops
Route 7 Grill
Great Barrington
Always a destination for discriminating carnivores, Route 7 Grill’s farm fresh pork chop doesn’t dress up with any fancy glazes or marinades. It’s just the other white meat done expertly: a juicy, thick slab of bone-in pork seared to perfection swimming in its own savor. Topping off the generous portion of pork – so moist and tender it practically falls off the bone – is a flavorful apple relish, sweet and tangy and made with large bits of real apple. Served alongside velvety mashed sweet potatoes and buttered collared greens, this chop is a cut above the rest.

Best Oatmeal
Riverbend Café
Great Barrington
Oatmeal may seem like an odd choice for a standout dish, but the folks at Riverbend give hot cereal a shot in the arm with some amazingly flavorful homemade oatmeal selections. With 14 different toppings to mix and match, the piece de resistance is their house special flavor combo. Warm, hearty oatmeal is joined with juicy slices of peace and jumbo walnut chunks for a savor that’s both sweet and satisfyingly crunchy. Add on top a dollop of melted farm-fresh butter and a sinful cinnamon-brown sugar mix, and you’ve got one of the best breakfasts imaginable. Their huge selection of mix-ins gives it great replay value - you’ll never have the same flavor combo twice of oatmeal twice, and you’ll never call oatmeal boring again

Best Steak
Cork and Hearth
Lee
Steak lovers, bring your appetite, because this one’s simultaneously a treat for the taste buds and a feat for the stomach. Cork and Hearth’s New York Strip is huge - but its size is only paralleled by its deliciousness. It’s cooked absolutely perfectly to a tender, juicy, pink finish. And for a real treat, pop in when they’ve got their steak special. The Kona-encrusted version is their fantastic New York Strip with a uniquely scrumptious Kahlua cream glaze and rubbed with peppercorn – steak heaven. Aside from the enormous portion of steak, it comes with fresh bread, salad, roasted red potatoes and grilled veggies, so even the heartiest of appetites will be bringing some awesome N.Y. strip home for tomorrow in a doggie bag - a perfect steak-lover’s breakfast!

Best Lasagna
Frankie’s Ristorante Italiano
Lenox
Piled high, Frankie’s recipe incorporates spinach dough into the mix, exquisitely rounding out a classically powerful flavor combination with an earthy freshness most lasagnas couldn’t dream of. Packed with enough chunks of tender, juicy ground beef to satisfy the heartiest of appetites, it’s all held together by a smooth, dreamy mix of melted mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses that flawlessly compliment the rustic flavors of pasta, spinach dough and beef ground beef. The knockout punch, however, is in the dynamite Bolognese, with a subtle sweetness and just the right amount of tongue-tempting spice. Even after you’ve devoured the dish, you’ll be fighting the urge to lick the plate clean.

Best Dessert
Perigee Restaurant’s S’mores bread pudding
Lee
Perigee finishes off a meal right with a quirky, delectable dish that’s part dessert classic, part campfire favorite. Mouthwatering bread pudding meets graham crackers, melted chocolate chops and gooey marshmallow. Drizzled with chocolate ganache and topped with a dollop of whipped cream, it’s a simple campground dessert exquisitely executed.

Best Vegetarian/Vegan Dining Options
Riverbend Café
Great Barrington
Riverbend Organic Café is the go-to destination for deliciously and affordably dining vegan or veggie, or even just healthy eats. If they can make oatmeal a to-die-for highlight of the menu (and they do, with their house special peaches, walnut, butter and cinnamon-sugar), they must be doing something right. Between their oatmeal, endless tasty smoothie combinations and their array of sandwich and Panini choices (try the vegetarian BLT, made with avocado, vegetarian bacon and homemade Thousand Island dressing on sunflower bread) it’s hard to miss with the veggie and vegan options here.

Best Deli Sandwich
Barrington Bagel Co.
Great Barrington
When it comes to delicatessen delicacies, Barrington Bagel Co. reigns supreme with a sandwich piled so high with pastrami that it might be the best lunch in the county – if you can fit your mouth around it. This sandwich exudes deli expertise – no muss, no fuss. It’s just a heaping helping of pastrami, expertly steamed to retain a mouthwatering juicy savor and tender texture. Simply topped with a zesty deli mustard for a little added zip, it’s served between two fresh slices of cloud soft rye bread – just thick enough to soak up the flavorful drip of the juicy succulence of the pastrami. Add one quartered pickle slice, and it’s as good as deli gets.

Best Bang For Your Buck Dining
Joe’s Diner
Lee
Diners are always a shoo-in for cheap and easy dining, but Joe’s takes it to another level with unbeatably affordable prices and a laid back retro atmosphere of friendly hospitality that will always make for repeat customers after the first visit. It’s tough to find a restaurant nowadays that serves up French toast by individual triangles on the menu, but it’s just as tough to grab a hearty breakfast or lunch this good while barely breaking a tenspot. Whether it’s a fantastic French toast breakfast, dynamite sausage and pepper grinder for lunch, a full turkey dinner or a killer hand-mixed strawberry banana milkshake any time, Joe’s is the place to go for breakfast all day, a quick lunch or a downhome dinner that’s easy on the wallet and easier on the taste buids.

Best Meat Lovers’ Dining
The Meat Market
Great Barrington
Carnivores rejoice! The Meat Market is the destination for everything meat - not just an expert butcher shop offering the choicest highest variety of cuts around, but also a great spot for informal dining with some truly unique - and tasty - offerings. Since their menu is derived from entirely locally-sourced meats, their options are ever-changing, but it’s tough to miss here if you’re a meat fan. Stop by on Thursdays for their weekly dinner specials, expertly prepared by culinary mastermind chef Jamie Paxton.

Best Homemade Soups
Sullivan Station
Lee
Always homemade from scratch and served hot and fresh, soups are the appetizer of choice at Sullivan Station for a reason. Even in those large cauldrons, the demand for their delicious variety of soups can barely be met. They’ve got all the classics, like French onion, chowders and vegetable, but the real treat is their outside-the-box cheddar ale soup, a hearty and scrumptious beginning to any meal – or even a quick, delicious meal on its own. In fact, with all the awesome soups on tap here, why not get real soupy and have a three-course meal entirely composed of soups - only at Sullivan Station.

Best Kitchen Supply Store
Chef’s Shop
Great Barrington
If you’re an aspiring chef hoping to establish the next big restaurant in the Berkshires, step one should be visit the Chef’s Shop. Located in the heart of Great Barrington, The Chef’s Shop offers a comprehensive assortment of kitchen equipment including gadgets, appliances, cookware and bakeware, cookbooks to get you cooking whether you have dreams of becoming a five-star chef or looking to cook for your family. The shop now encompasses two floors at its 31 Rail Road Street location. Visit their website at thechefsshop.com or call (800) 237-5284. (413) 528-0135

Best Cupcakes
Barrington Bites
Great Barrington
Tucked away inside the Chef Shop is a hidden treat in Great Barrington. Barrington Bites offers a delectable array of fantastic gourmet cupcakes. With 40 flavors to choose from you are sure to find a new favorite from vanilla to pumpkin and gingerbread it is a desert lovers dream. The brainchild of avid bakers and friends Sherri Forelick and Wendy Weinberg, this is a must stop shop in the Berkshires.

Best New Italian Restaurant
Mario’s Tuscany Grill
Great Barrington
Out of the ashes of the closing of Fiori, a new excellent Italian restaurant rose. Mario’s Tuscany Grill, already making a name for itself at its Winstead, Conn. location, opened its doors on Railroad Street offering traditional Italian dishes in a family friendly atmosphere. Chicken and veal dishes are just the tip of a menu stacked with delicious entrees. Seafood and steaks also highlight a menu that also includes a spectacular wine selection of reds and whites, and martinis and specialty drinks. If you are hungry, you’re sure to leave happy.

Best Late Night Burger Joint
Staxx
Great Barrington
When night falls in Great Barrington, the popular Martin’s restaurant transforms into the fun and flavorful Staax burgers. All the best of a 50s burger joint with contemporary culinary styles, Staax offers juicy burgers with one two or three patties stacked high with a wide range of topping options or the juicy with cheese cooked inside. sandwiches, and thick, delicious milkshakes make this the perfect place for an evening hang-out.

Best Java in Town
Fuel Coffee Shop
Great Barrington
Whether you are looking to relax with a cup of joe or need a pick me up in the morning your java spot should be Fuel Coffee Shop. When it’s 2 p.m. and you are straining to keep your eyes open at the office, you’ll realize how appropriate their name really is. With friendly staff and comfortable atmosphere you’d be ready to call this place the best but just wait until you try their brews. Drip Coffee roasted by Mocha Joe’s is heavenly with light and dark roasts, or try one of the many lattes or mochas for whatever your pallet needs. Looking for an extra kick? Drop some espresso roasted by Barrington Coffee in for a red eye. Whatever is in your cup, Fuel is ready to keep you going.

Best Frozen Yogurt
Froyo World
Great Barrington
In the summer of 2010, Froyo World opened its first Frozen Yogurt Lounge on the Yale University campus in the town of New Haven, Connecticut. Last year they brought the magic to Great Barrington and have been a major hit. From amazing flavors to more toppings than you can imagine you have to visit this one this summer.

Best New Café
Haven
Great Barrington
They offer high quality food and excellent service to all of their guests – whether you need a fresh cup of great coffee to go, a healthy delicious breakfast to sit down with, a tasty life enhancing meal to take home or if are planning a catered event for dozens of friends and family, Haven is the spot for you.

Best Breakfast (Central)
Daddyo’s Diner
Pittsfield
Centrally located on East Street near Pittsfield High School, the classic, 50s-themed Daddyo’s Diner serves breakfast all day, including reasonably priced lunches and dinners. With a wide assortment of omelet options and breakfast specials, customers are sure not to leave hungry. Pancakes, crepes, waffles, and breakfast sandwiches, as well as an array of side dishes, are also available.

Best Doughnuts
Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe
Great Barrington
Featuring homemade doughnuts, muffins, bagels, and other breakfast (or anytime) treats; Home Sweet Home is much more than your average coffee shop. They have a variety of fresh regular and specialty doughnuts, including French crullers and their version of the Cronut (croissant + doughnut). Their red velvet doughnuts were even featured in Ayelada’s popular Red Velvet Doughnut frozen yogurt in Pittsfield. Stop by for one of their combo deals.

Best Chocolate
H. R. Zepplin
Great Barrington
New to town but you wouldn’t know it by just how incredible their chocolate is. H.R. Zepplins operates like they’ve been doing this for years. Delicous offerings of fudge chocolate bars, pepermint bark, and more are ready to send you to sweets heaven. If you are in the region be sure to treat yourself with a stop here.

Best Fast Food
Wendy’s
Pittsfield
Not nearly as hard of a decision as it was for the readers, but still tough. When you are looking for a fast bite, you can’t go wrong with a classic establishment like Wendy’s to fill you up. Of all the fast food chains, theirs remains near the top in quality with the best nuggets around (sorry Mickey Ds). And top it all off with a refreshing and cool frosty that is always a treat.

Best Package Store
Plaza Package
Great Barrington
This place is packed with the best selection in the county. There are so many craft beers in Plaza you will want to fall to your knees and weep. From stouts to IPAs they have you covered as well as a huge supply from local breeries. If beer isn’t your thing check out there shelves upon shelves of wine and liquor from some of the best distilleries and vineyards around. A friendly staff is on hand to guide you through Baccus’ secret stash.

Best Grilled Cheese
Rubiners
Great Barrington
Being attached to a store labeled as “cheesemongers” is a nice advantage. These grilled cheeses might give mom a run for her money, The shop offers a delicious, crispy treat packed with gourmet cheese, Be sure to drop in during their grilled cheese nights to really enjoy this dish.

Best French Fries
20 Railroad
Great Barrington
The most important side you can have with your burger is not something to brush aside. The fries at 20 Railroad are hands down the best. They are crispy and huge and flavorful. The truffle basket could be a meal in itself or perfect to snack on while sampling from their great beer selection or chowing down on their world class sandwhiches and burgers. When you’re there be sure to have fries with that.

Best MilkShakes
Soco Creamery
Great Barrington
When summer rolls in there is nothing better than a cold, thick, delicious milkshake to beat the heat. The people at SoCo already excell at their Ice cream so its no surprise how great their milkshakes are. Seemingly endless flavor options and combinations are available as well as making it extra thick. Just watch out for the brain freeze.
Runner Up
Staax

Best Tacos
Baja Charlie’s
Lee
This is THE place for cali style cuisine. Their tacos are out of this world, with fish tacos that reign supreme as well as unique creations like the chicken curry and duck confit tacos. You’ll be hurring up to catch the taco wave faster than you can say Cowabunga.

Best Beer
BIg Elm
Sheffield
Big Elm has had a huge year expanding their production to incorporate canning beers and cementing their hold as one of the states best breweries its clear their brewers are passionate and skilled in producing pint afer pint of liquid satisfaction. With tried and true mainstays like their IPA and the dark, rich and ever popular Gerry Dog Stout, as well as their Lion’s Ale and 413 Ale that celebrate the Berkshires the best way you can, with quality beers. Whether you pop or crack one open you will in beer lover heaven to the last drop.

Best Guacamole
Xicohtencatl
Great Barrington
The best Mexican cuisine thrives off the ability to combine simple yet fresh ingredients with spice and flair for an uncomplicated, full-flavored taste-bud experience – and Xicohtencatl’s guacamole especial is just that. Made to order with a traditional method in a stone molcajete, the standard order includes tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, lime and salt, but special requests are welcomed for those who want to known the flavor up even more. Zesty, smooth and always packed with flavor, their expertly prepared guacamole is unparalleled.

Best Weekly Dining Deal
Spice Dragon
Wednesday Night
Pittsfield
Wednesday nights at Spice Dragon on North Street, there is a list of sushi rolls that are half-price. If you’re in Pittsfield between 4-10 p.m. on “hump day,” stop in to grab fresh, hand-made sushi. Spice Dragon has an excellent atmosphere whether you chose a regular table, high-table or bar seat, and high-quality bartenders on staff.

Best Ribs
Mad Jack’s BBQ
Pittsfield
At Mad Jack’s in Pittsfield, you can get authentic, southern, wood-smoked barbecue right in the Berkshires. They don’t cook to order, so be sure to get there early enough. Their incredibly popular ribs go fast and take hours to smoke each day, so they have what they have. Mad Jack’s is right in the center of North Street downtown. Kids eat free every Tuesday and Wednesday and the wait staff really knows their barbecue.

DINING: Readers' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Co-op Market
Berkshire Co-op
Great Barrington
As a consumer cooperative market, Berkshire Co-op not only strives to provide high quality food products to its loyal consumer base, but also to be a transformative force in the community. In addition to offering affordable and healthful groceries and food stuffs, they also aim to nurture social and economic well-being in an environmentally sensitive manner, cultivating a sustainable local and regional economy and a more vibrant community.

Best Seafood and Produce
Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
Great Barrington
Guido’s harmoniously blends a classic marketplace atmosphere with up to the minute goods and services, including an exceptionally fresh and robust produce section and a mouthwatering seafood selection. For those looking for natural, organic and additive-free food products, Guido’s is a destination for the discriminating food shopper seeking great seafood and the veggie on the side.

Best Greek Restaurant
Aegean Breeze
Great Barrington
For a trip to the Greek coast for your taste buds, look no farther than Aegean Breeze. Revered for their specialties of grilled whole fish and tasty tapas, they expertly blend authentic Greek cuisine with American influences in a cozy atmosphere. Soak up the Greek Isle experience on their patio in the warmer months, or warm up next to the fireplace in their rustic indoor dining space with an expansive bar and wine list.

Best Japanese
Shiro
Great Barrington
At Shiro, they follow the Japanese tradition that food should satisfy all the senses. Their cuisine is always prepared with great care and beautifully presented with the freshest ingredients in ways that delight the eyes as well as the taste buds. Known for having the freshest fish in Berkshire County and their light and crispy tempura appetizer, they also offer a bounty of sushi dishes and special rolls and, for a fun night out with the family, their Hibachi chefs’ spectacular performances are full of fun surprises and will dazzle the eyes and the tongue. With such an array of tasty dishes and flavors, you’ll want to return again and again. Every occasion is a special occasion at Shiro’s.

Best Breakfast Spot
Martin’s Restaurant
Great Barrington
Martin’s has served the Berkshires since 1989 with one simple formula: a cozy atmosphere plus simple, delicious food. From scrumptious breakfast standards like buttery French toast and crisp veggie omelets to exquisite specials such as their asparagus eggs Benedict, they offer great bang for your buck with delicious, thrifty breakfast options. The paper mats and crayon portraits that line the tables are just proof of the warm, family friendly environment that makes for a great breakfast on Sunday morning – or any morning.

Best Chinese
Koi
Great Barrington
As a fixture of Berkshire oriental cuisine, Koi rivals even Chinatown’s best. Their fresh, flavorful dishes – from the Szechuan dumpling platter and the seafood fried rice to the standards of Chinese comfort food such as General Tsao’s chicken and wonton soup – are always served hot and to order with excellent service by an accommodating wait staff. Their killer cuisine can either function as an exquisite experience to go or in their ornate, expansive dining room.

Best Caterer
Marketplace
Great Barrington
While the Marketplace Kitchen does many things right, the heart and soul of their enterprise has always been catering. With elegantly delicious food and an ability to tailor their menu to any event, they provide great eats with a unique experience – the way food is meant to be celebrated. Whether it’s home, office or somewhere in between, no event is too big or too small, too sophisticated or too basic for Marketplace to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

Best Smoothies
Riverbend Café
Great Barrington
The highlight of the simple and delicious fare at Great Barrington’s best organic vegetarian café is most certainly the smoothies. With 21 different flavors (one, the soy berry blast, made with soy milk so vegans and lactose intolerant customers can get their smoothie fix), it’s hard not to find something you like on their delectable list of frozen beverage treats. They nail the standard chocolate and fruity smoothie options, but also offer some unique flavor combos as well, such as the drama queen (raspberries, lime, orange and apple cider) and the healthy blend of the “veggie cocktail” (beets, carrots, ginger, pear and parsley).

Best Cupcakes
Barrington Bites
Great Barrington
Located within the confines of the Chef Shop is the Berkshires’ sweetest treat: Barrington Bites, specializing in mini cupcakes with more than 40 flavors. They offer classic flavors as well as deliciously diverse specialty flavors ranging from the decadent – banana hazelnut, hot fudge sundae, key lime pie – to the wacky – the Elvis, a cupcake with chocolate, banana, peanut butter and bacon – and everything in between. They even have gluten free and vegan options, making sure no sweet tooth goes unsatisfied.

Best New Restaurant
Mario’s Tuscany
Great Barrington
One of the most highly anticipated openings in the Berkshires, Mario’s Tuscany provided new life into its space on Railroad Street after Fiori shut it’s doors. The cuisine that is both fine dining and family friendly is a welcome addition to a murder’s row of great restaurants. With an already popular and established Connecticut location, Mario’s draws from an experienced and successful past. With poultry, veal, and seafood items in traditional Italian recipes its hard to choose a top entree. Gourmet pizzas and tantalizing appetizers and an incredible wine list and cocktail menu make for a guaranteed satisfying meal and satisfying evening. It’s clear that with their first Berkshire season in the books, Mario’s will be vying for the best restaurant for years to come.

Best Restaurant of the Year
Café Adam
Great Barrington
They may have moved to a new location but for a second year running, Cafe Adam cemented itself as the best restaurant in the Berkshires. With an expert flair for modern European cuisine, you won’t forget the experience at Café Adam. Their lunch and brunch consists of Parisian street food and European classics, while their fine dining offers whole roasted fish, aged duckling and hand-made pasta dishes with a menu that changes nearly weekly and ingredients locally sourced whenever possible. Their move up the road to a new location will allow them to have a bar, private dining room and outdoor seating, while their menu will remain as exquisite as ever.

Best Coffee Shop
Fuel
Great Barrington
Combining a cozy, casual atmosphere with a plethora of hot and cold beverage options, there’s no better place to fuel up on caffeine or a light snack. Known for their unrivaled homemade chai tea mocha espressos, they feature not only a wide array of coffees, hot chocolates and bagels, but also delicious and nutritious smoothies, great salads and sandwiches, and dozens of other reasons why Fuel is the go-to pit stop in Great Barrington. They also regularly have almond milk for lactose intolerant customers.

Best New York Style Deli
Barrington Bagel
Great Barrington
Barrington Bagel personifies the three great attributes of a New York Deli: No muss, no fuss and fantastic eats. Great for an early morning breakfast, a coffee pit stop or a casual sit down meal, their offerings – ranging from a chocolate bagel with fresh strawberry cream cheese to absolutely dynamite pastrami and chicken club sandwiches – will leave no one disappointed.

Best Sushi
Bizen
Great Barrington
For the best Japanese cuisine this side of Tokyo, look no further than Bizen’s extensive and delicious myriad of sushi offerings for sushi rookies and raw fish aficionados alike. Grab the Bento box if you’re looking for a good sushi deal under $20, or go sushi-crazy and try all their offerings from a Bezerkshire roll to king crab-stuffed California rolls, all facilitated by a quick, professional and friendly wait staff.

Best Seafood
Salmon Run
Lee
Novel and tasty seafood for an affordable price is the name of the game at Salmon Run. With a menu chock full of appetizers, lunch specials and seafood sandwiches, their specialty is their namesake. They offer fresh, delicious, ample portions of salmon cooked just the way you love it – char-grilled with shrimp and garlic butter – and plenty of ways you’ve never imagined – garlic potato-encrusted salmon, or grilled Buffalo salmon with baked gorgonzola.

Best Doughnut Shop
Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe
Great Barrington
There’s a reason this place is called “donut heaven” by customers. With in-house hand-made donuts that melt in your mouth as well as muffins, cannoli and other pastries, their fresh, creative and high-quality offerings will turn anyone into a breakfast pastry lover. From classics like chocolate glazed and apple cider donuts to maple frosted and key lime pie flavors, their delectable donuts and warm, friendly service will have you saying “Dunkin who?”

Best Ice Cream Store
SoCo Creamery
Great Barrington
“One spoonful and you’re hooked,” is a good motto for this micro-creamery, whose 20 years of varied and taste bud pleasing sweet and creamy offerings have earned a deserved reputation as some of the best ice cream in the region. The key to their success is the small batches – never mass produced – to insure every cone and dish is consistent is its amazing freshness, texture and flavor. It also allows them to deal in an expansive and ever-changing myriad of flavors, from the classics (dirty chocolate and hazelnut are two big customer favorites) to the wildly exotic (seasonal offerings like Macintosh graham cracker and hot chocolate marshmallow).

Best Burger
Staxx
Great Barrington
The son of owner of Martin’s definitely learned a thing or two from Dad. These burgers are beyond mouth watering. Staxx offers juicy burgers with one two or three patties stacked high with a wide range of topping options or the juicy with cheese cooked inside.

Best Beer
Barrington Brewery
Great Barrington
It was a tought competiton with so many great breweries in the coutny but Barrington Brewery pulled off the repeat. It stands alone not only as the first East coast brewery to use solar power to brew their beer, but as brewers with an unmatched passion and attention to detail to produce the best possible pint of liquid satisfaction. With tried and true mainstays like the big, bold Ice Glenn IPA and the dark, rich Black Bear Stout, as well as seasonal favorites like the Firecracker Independence Day Imperial IPA and Yule Fuel Christmas brew, when it comes to beer, it’s clear: Barrington Brewery is the best.

Best Chocolate
Catherine’s
Great Barrington
In terms of selection alone, Catherine’s has nearly every chocolate shop beat, but it’s the quality of the hand-dipped delicacies that keep bringing customers back for another treat. In addition to exquisite truffles and chocolates and an immense selection of fudge (mint chocolate is a good place to start), Catherine’s also has hand-made chocolate-covered fruits, chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate-covered coffee and espresso beans, chocolate-covered graham crackers, chocolate-covered chocolate and pretty much anything else one could imagine hand-dipped in the sweetest, silkiest chocolate around.

Best Salads
Four Brothers
Great Barrington
Ranging from small and appetite-whetting to formidably heaping, Four Brothers has the salad market cornered. You can start your Mediterranean meal off the right way with a simple yet delicious Greek or Italian antipasto salad, or you can up the “anti” and make the salad the main attraction. Between the healthy Westport salad (field greens with cranberries, walnuts and gorgonzola), the heart Milford salad (a mouthful featuring bacon, cheddar, cheese, turkey, egg and avocado) and the Four Brothers favorite Darien salad with feta, chicken and bacon with balsamic dressing, this is one place where the salad can start and finish the meal.

Best Diner
Neighborhood Diner
Great Barrington
Generous portions and good times abound at this friendly locale at any time, from a quick early morning breakfast to a late night bite. It’s tough to miss out on what you’re looking for with their extensive menu of comfort food, American fare and all day breakfast – the French toast, Paninis and friend string beans are always a shoo-in. Their wait staff is all that is should be at a neighborhood diner: Cordial and quick service, plus a friendly vibe good for a laugh in between bites.

Best Burritos
Hot Harry’s
Pittsfield
Looking for a real good burrito, try out Harry’s in Pittsfield. They use made-from-scratch, homemade recipes that use fresh ingredients and are prepared on site. From the fresh-squeezed oranges, lime juice, garlic, & oregano used in their Yucatan marinade for their Yucatan-style chicken and their Baja tofu to the chipotle pepper sauce for their Adobo-style chicken, they carefully marinate before grilling them fresh.

Best New York Style Deli
The Great Barrington Bagel Company
Great Barrington
Judy and Marvin Lieberman opened The Great Barrington Bagel Company in Feb. 1996 in the middle of a snowstorm. It was a great first day and has been a success ever since. They are “transplanted” New Yorkers with a taste for good food.? The shop undeniably makes the best NY style bagels. It features 17 flavors of cream cheese, a large selection of smoked fish specialties, unique deli sandwiches, salads, delicious coffee and the most talked about homemade soups and chili to be found in Great Barrington.

Best Sandwiches
Marty + Jims
Great Barrington
Their sandwiches are overstuffed with a generous portion of your favorites, along with all the extras that round out the perfect Marty and Jim’s sandwich or sub. The trick is experience, owners Jim Kenefick, a retired executive chef, and Marty (Martha) Brown have over 75 years combined culinary experience.

Best Local Brewpub
Barrington Brewery
Great Barrington
It’s hard to beat the guys with the solar beers. Once again the readers pick for top Brew Pub is the Barrington Brewery in Great Barrington Since 1995 the Barrington Brewery has been serving their own barn brewed beer and food made from scratch. Try the blond or the brown, they are both sure winners. Want a little trivia for a friend next time you visit? They were the first brewery on the east coast to install a solar panel system that supplies solar-heated hot water for brewing and restaurant use.

Best Food Challenge
Misty Moonlight
Pittsfield
They have everything you need to get the day started. They have eggs, pancakes and even a mimosa. Then if you are feeling extra frisky how about you take on their massive food challenge, the Godzilla. That bad boy is a 12 egg omelet and you have 30 minutes to get it all down, meaning it might end your day before it even gets started.

Best Tapas
Mission
Pittsfield
Do you need something to eat and want to try a few new dishes? Mission has some of the best small plates around and is right in the heart of downtown Pittsfield. Jim Benson and Rachel Parzick have a great selection of wine to try and great food to sample. Get a big group and order 10-15 things to get a taste of it all.

Best Fast Food
Five Guys
Pittsfield
It was a slugfest between Wendy’s and Five Guys for the supreme fast food joint in town but in the end the burger expertise took it. The relative newcomers offer absolutely dynamite food with burgers cooked fresh and covered with whatever you want to put on them stacked as high as you can get them, And while it might be a burger place the real allstar is the neverending amount of french fries made from scratch from huge potato bags strewn about the store. Don’t forget to grab some peanuts while you are there, either.

Best Salad (South)
Baba Louie’s
Great Barrington, Pittsfield
They may be known for their artisan pizza’s but Baba Louie’s also can make a hell of a salad. With a menu stacked with different mouth watering options from the gorgonzola. pears and cranberry fest in Dawn’s Delight to the sautéed portabella mushroom salad the combinations are sure to satisfy. With plentiful portions their salads are a meal in their own right. Don’t forget Baba Louie’s Caesar Salad, a classic and favorite of many diners.

Best Salad (Central)
The Marketplace Café
Pittsfield
“The Naked Granny” is the Marketplace’s signature salad, made with fresh greens, granny apple, goat cheese, tomato, onion, pecan, and balsamic vinaigrette. A fruity, refreshing take on traditional salad, “The Naked Granny”—like many of the Marketplace’s dishes—is made with local ingredients and comes tossed in a large aluminum salad bowl. They offer creative spins on both Caesar and Greek salad, as well.

Best Slice of Pizza
Manhattan Pizza
Great Barrington
Specializing in New York and Sicilian style pies, Manhattan Pizza earns its name as the best slice of pizza this side of Little Italy. They’ve got a variety of specialty pizzas, such as your standard Hawaiian, meat lovers and white pizzas, but you’re better off getting creative and crafting one of nearly infinite topping combinations from their formidable and varied list of the freshest cheese, meats and veggies.

Best Pizza and Pasta
Baba Louie’s
Great Barrington
Utilizing only the freshest high-quality ingredients, Baba Louie’s mixes the tried and true traditional with the deliciously creative for an endless array of tasty options for food adventurers of all tastes and dietary restrictions. Their simple but mouthwatering evening pasta dishes are uniquely made every night depending on the availability of local produce and cheese for a different flavor experience every night. And their flatbread pizzas, with sourdough sourced from local artisan bakers, run the gamut from expertly-executed traditional masterpieces – the classic Queen Margherita – to out of this world creations – such as the Dirty Brutto, featuring roasted red potatoes, pesto, garlic and parmesan.




ARTS AND CULTURE: Editors' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Actor
Derek Wilson, Christopher Invar, Steven Hendrickson
A three-way tie! Derek Wilson who played ‘the sailor’ in BTG’s ‘Anna Christie’ . Christopher Invar who played Benedick in Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at BSC. Mr Invar made Shakespeare’s 450 year old English understandable and meaningful. Third, Steve Hendrickson in Chester Theatre’s ‘An Iliad’ ; a one-man tour de force. An heroic achievement.

Best Actress
Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Angela Pierce, & Carol Halstead
Another three-way tie ! Elizabeth Aspenlieder as ‘Maureen’ in Shakespeare & Company’s ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’. A beautiful subtle interpretation, Elizabeth’s ‘Irish’ was impeccable. She was so believable as the jilted lover. Angela Pierce as ‘Evelyn Montaigne’ in BSC’s ‘Scott & Hem in the Garden of Alah’. Third, Carol Halstead in the dual roles of ‘Bev’ and ‘Kathy’ in BSC’s production of ‘Clybourne Park’.

Best Director
Ethan Heard, Matthew Penn
Two-way tie: Ethan Heard for BTG’s “The Cat & The Canary”and Matthew Penn for S & Co’s “Beauty Queen of Leenane”. Both directors let the playright’s words tell the story and sensitively guided their plays along to the conclusion.

Best New Play
Scott & Hem in The Garden of Allah
By Mark St Germain, this quick, one and a half hour play - no intermission - holds ones interest from beginning to end. With the best fist fight scene ever! Incisive revelations about two of America’s most illustrious and argumentative writers : Scott FitzGerald and Ernest Hemingway; it will have you gasping for breath at times.

Best Musical
Oklahoma, On the town
Two-way tie : ”Oklahoma” at BTG’s Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, and “On The Town” at BSC’s Union Street Theatre, Pittsfield. The first was a classic low key interpretation. The second a rip roaring extravagant Broadway style show music.

Best Small Ensemble
Caliope
‘CALIOPE’ (the happily and newly revived, once defunct, ancient music group) at Marlborough Meeting House on September 7th. With incidental poems and readings matching the century of the music given by the brilliant Jonathan Epstein, whose beautifully elocuted voice was a joy to hear, putting the contemporary “mumbling school” of acting to shame!

Best Large Ensemble
Requiem
The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Verdi’s “Requiem” with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and four excellent soloists, the standout of which was the wife of the new conductor at the symphony,soprano Kristine Opolais. Her husband, Andris Nelsons, was on doctors’ orders not to travel by plane to conduct! Ms. Opolais established her ‘Bona fides’ with the orchestra in no uncertain terms with her excellent performance. I trust we will hear her again in the not too distant future.

Best Solo Pianist
Daniel Trifonov,
at Ozawa Hall
August 22
This new young Russian sensation at 22 has the touch and maturity of a Horowitz and the memory of magician Houdini. Alas, if his management keep working him as hard as they do, he will disappear from the concert platforms of the world in a state of collapse ; half of which he has played already !! Kissin eat your heart out...

Best Opera
Orestia
Bard Summerscape’s First Class production of ‘Orestia’ by Russian composer Sergey Taneyev. This Annandale-on-Hudson venue is the place to be when it comes to opera revivals of a rare but magnificent nature. Congratulations to Maestro Leon Botstein and his 70 piece pit band, the American Symphony Orchestra, who were superb. Tenor Mikhail Vekua gave a remarkable performance as ‘Orestes’. He’s one to watch with a top like Pavarotti and a middle like Domingo.

Best Opera Museum
Irwin Adler’s opera museum
Rarely does one find an opera fanatic who takes the trouble to save his Met programs since age 15! Mr Irwin Adler, now 83, has created the most interesting opera museum with statues of characters from all the well known operas in his lovely home. A lifelike statue of his hero, Richard Wagner, would have Madame Tussaude envious of his efforts. In Lee it’s worth a visit.

Best Newcomers
to Acting
Annie Considine
Annie Considine played Puck (and three other roles) in S & Co’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Annie is a natural comedienne and wins the audience over in a trice ! And she has classic medieval good looks. Also Edmund Donovan in S & Co’s ‘Beauty Queen of Leenane’. Edmund has amazingly easy stage presence for one so young, and natural star quality.

Best Pit Band
BSC On the Town
The raucus fast paced playing of BSC’s excellent pit band in their production of ‘On The Town’ was led by two of our best local brass players ever : Geoff Stevens on trumpet and Dave Wampler on trombone. Professional to the end. And very good too!!

Best Local Choreographer
Olga Dunn
Great Barrington
A veteran immersed in the world of dance since the age of five, Dunn’s resume is nearly as impressive as the work put on through her dance company in Barrington. After studying dance in Virginia, Canada, Boston and Washington D.C., she pursued dance in New York City in multiple studios, which she credits with truly crystallizing her personal ideas about dance. The founder of the Olga Dunn Dance Company, she has guided her company to five Merit Aid awards from the state, named a choreography state finalist and was chosen to serve as a Massachusetts Cultural Council panelist in Boston, confirming her reputation as one of the biggest names in dance in the region.

Best Local Dancer
Yon Burke
Raised under the guidance of his mother, the legendary Olga Dunn, Burke has made a name for himself throughout the county and beyond, performing with renowned dance companies as well as the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He guested with his mother’s dance company at a gospel festival at the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington in June of last year.

Best Local Dancer Runner Up
Melanie Comeau
After dancing for over a decade with the Canterella School of Dance in Pittsfield, Comeau now brings a smile to the faces of audiences in the eastern part of the state in her successful new gig performing with the Harvard University Dance Group.

Best Historical Site
Ventfort Hall
Lenox
This imposing Jacobean Revival mansion, typifying the Gilded Age in Lenox, is the home of The Museum of the Gilded Age, and rightfully so. Back-to-back “Best Historical Site” winner, the picturesque architecture and grounds are not only breathtaking, but also serve to interpret the great changes that occurred in American life, industry and society during the Gilded Age. It belongs back on the list as the best.

Best Country Antiques
Painted Porch
Sheffield
Painted Porch specializes in French, English and Canadian country furniture and accessories. They do best with items that are unique, such as store counters from hardware and bakery stores or golf lockers from an English country club that can be used in a mud room or children’s room. English two-sided pub signs are also always found in the store as well. Wandering through their 1815 colonial, you’ll find one of the finest and most extensive collections around.

ARTS AND CULTURE: Readers' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Museum
Berkshire Museum
Pittsfield
From ancient history and natural science to acclaimed art and everything in between, the diverse collections and exhibits at Berkshire Museum offer a “window on the world” to curious knowledge seekers of any age. Bringing people together for experiences that spark creativity and innovative thinking, the museum strives to make inspirational and educational connections among art, history and natural science.

Best Local Dance Company
Olga Dunn Dance Company
Great Barrington
Consistenly one of the best things about the art scene in the Berkshires, the Best Dance Company is a no doubter for Olga Dunn Dance Company once again. Having entered their fourth decade, Olga Dunn continues to pursue their mission of striving for excellence in dance through dedicated professional level training and mesmerizing performances. Now a household name in dance throughout the Berkshires and beyond, they have reached thousands through not only critically-acclaimed performance but also guest workshops, public master classes, lecture demonstrations for area school children and outreach programming.

Best Poet
Michael Houlihan
Great Barrington
Known as “The Bard of Barrington,” Michael Houlihan’s personal poetic style and dedication to the medium has earned him a reputation as the poet laureate of South County. Landing for a second year on our list for Best Poet, he has pursued his mission – to bring poetry to the community he lives in – with commitment and vigor, hosting many poetry nights and groups as well as inspiring young poets across the county since becoming a Berkshire native in the 1960s.

Best Band
Higher Organix
Great Barrington
They just keep pouring on the Operating within the self-appointed genre of “organic-livetronica,” this dynamic power trio prides themselves on their nigh indefinable style, incorporating dance rhythms and electronic experimentation into a jam-band foundation evolved by jazz-like improvisation. Focusing on a delivery that is as spontaneous as humanly possible, they never plan their sets – flowing in form from heavy rock to ethereal ambient to twitchy house-trance – and they are a live experience that must be heard to be believed.

Runner up
Static
Pittsfield
It was necessary to give these guys a shot out for their farewell tour this summer, and the readers obliged. Static called it quits after years of rocking the Berkshires this summer, but went out on a high note with a fantastic farewell tour across the area. Even with their reliquishing their space on the stage, it will be hard to top them as one of the best in the Berkshires.

Best Emerging Artist
Teruko Kushi
Great Barrington
Teruko Kushi’s imaginative and one of a kind paintings and drawings reflect a style that is at once vivid and dark, both playful and filled with visual depth, and reveals a colorful artist’s perspective that echoes a reverence for the natural world and beyond. Simultaneously ethereal and psychedelic, her subjects burst off the page.

Best Artist
Huckleberry Delsignore
Pittsfield
Huckleberry Delsignore’s unique approach to crocheting has made her one of the most talked-about creators of wearable art in the region. Pushing the structural and sculptural boundaries of the common craft into exciting new frontiers, her work creatively walks the line between fashion and performing arts, and her work has been proudly worn far and near – from residencies at Berkshire Museum and Mass. MoCA to being featured in the Huffington Post, the Three Letter Man Gallery in London, BASE in Miami and an episode of MTV Extreme Cribs, just to name a few.

Best Music Festival
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival
Norfolk, Conn.
The readers and editors see eye to eye on this one. Building on the rich musical tradition surrounding Norfolk since the 19th century, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival continuously draws audiences from all over the country to scenic Northwest Connecticut to take in compelling aural art produced by world-class artists. The passion for some of the best music ever heard by human ears results in one of the most pretstigious musical gatherings in the nation.

Best Scenic Design
Carl Sprague, “A Christmas Carol” at The Colonial Theater
Pittsfield
A repeat winner, Sprague once again dazzled with amazing set design work on “A Christmas Carol” – on a low budget, no less – brought an imaginative and detailed visual aesthetic to the classic holiday story put on at the Colonial. From the grandiosity of the cathedral and the streets of London to the dark, intimate corners of the bedrooms of the poor, Sprague’s scenic design didn’t just bring the setting to the audience of 19th century London – he brought the audience into the setting.

Best Cover Band
Who Are You
Pittsfield
A great coverband can make you forget that you aren’t seeing the actual group whose songs they are performing. Who Are You makes you think you are back in 1970 watching Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle. One of the Berkshire’s most entertaining bands, Who Are You perform a career spanning set of The Who’s greatest hits. Craig Simmons, John Kiernan, Vincent Lane and Garrett Lechowski put on a hell of a show. If you are at a bar in the Berkshires you’re sure to come across this gem of a group that you can tell really love the band they pay tribute to night in and night out.

Best Venue Across The Border
Upstate Concert Hall
Clifton Park N.Y.
This spot may still be Northern Lights to many in the area, but new name or not this venue is a beloved spot to New York’s capital region concert go-ers. Catch some of the top alternative acts and old favorites as well as local showcases and more. The general admission format allows anyone to get close, and the venue offers a well stocked bar and concessions. Only a short drive from Pittsfield, this venue is the best bet when looking across the border for a show.


NIGHTLIFE: Editors' Choice (Return to The Best top)

Best Beer Selection (South)
Moe’s Tavern
Lee
Some places just know what they are good at. Moe’s is one of those places; all they do is beer and whiskey, and no one does it better. Craft beers on tap change weekly, the bartenders are friendly, and the place is also known for the fact that the always popular Dog Fish Head 60 Min is always $4. Not to mention that the place is a little bit off the beaten path, which prevents that well known touristy, yuppie crowd from taking over. 

Best Beer Selection (North)
Thistle & Mirth
Pittsfield
The statement “Most Beer $5,” chalked visibly on the wall at the end of the dark wooden bar, sums up Thistle & Mirth quite nicely. The bar, of 44 West Street, is pretty no-nonsense when it comes to craft beer, priding themselves on their constantly rotating selection of microbrews, with 12 taps of draft beer and a variety of cans and bottles on hand. They often incorporate seasonal beverages from local breweries like BBC, Berkshire Mountain Brewers, Big Elm, and Wandering Star.

Best Wine List
Brava Bar
Lenox
Lenox doesn’t equate to “late night”, but Brava took a chance and opened there as a late night restaurant and that gamble has paid off. But perhaps even better than the food is the wine list that is artfully crafted by owner Whitney Asher, who searches the world to pick true winners.

Best Place To Drink With Friends
Olde Heritage Tavern
Lenox
In a town that can be known as being stuffy and full of tourists, the Heritage shines as a true drinkers bar. Good cheap food, a big selection of beers and great bartenders. If you’re looking to catch any game featuring the boys from Boston, this place will have it on multiple screens and a crowd egger to watch with you, if you want a game of pool, they have that, too.

Best Local Brewery
Big Elm
Sheffield
There has been an explosion of local breweries in recent years, even better than that is the fact they are all really good. But right now Big Elm seems to be putting out the best brew around. Gerry Dog, 413 and their IPA have all become big time favorites at local watering holes and their special beer at the Red Lion is the kind of local connect that makes the Berkshires so great.

Best Live Jazz
The Gateways
Lenox
This beautiful inn in downtown Lenox is also home to a terrific whisky selection, over 200 types, and behind the always classy bar is a ton of options for wine, grappa and spirits. The smooth sounds from the piano always make for the perfect evening atmosphere. The host live music three days and week and keep a great list of artist on deck.

Best Place To Drink Alone
Old Forge
Lanesboro
The Old Forge up in Lanesboro is one of those bars for everyone really could know your name. One of those down-home pubs everyone loves. If you have had a long day and need a stiff drink, this is the place to head to, in a hurry.

Best Pickup Line
Can I buy you a drink or do you just want the money?
Berkshire County

Runner Ups
They say dating is a numbers game... so can I get your number?
Are you a magician??? Because Abraca-DAYUM!

Best Sports Bar
The Locker Room
Lee
If you are going to have a name like that you better bring it on game day. With a dozen beers on tap and as many big screen TVs lining the walls, plus $.50 cent wing nights on Sundays and Mondays; it’s hard to imagine a better place to be for the big games. And if you’re there for a doubleheader, move beyond the standard pub fare and appetizers and grab a meal from their incredibly cheap, incredibly delicious lunch and dinner selections – massive grinders, mouth-watering pizzas and lunch specials galore.

Best Thursday Night Bar
Down County Social Club
Sheffield
Why Thursday you might as. Well, because this great little dive, located under the Stagecoach in Sheffield, is only open on Thursday nights. The place always has some eclectic live music and great drinks to go with a young and hip crowd. I mean who doesn’t need a bar to go to every Thirsty Thursday?

Best Gay Friendly Bar
rumpy’s tavern
Lenox
With a name like Rumpys you will more than likely attract a certain clientele. But this place is no “gay bar” it’s a great place for everyone party the night away. They have karaoke, trivia and some crazy dance parties if you get there on the right nights. How could anyone not want to dance in a dark bar with a smoke machine and always a good DJ?

Best Place To Meet Men
Patrick’s Pub
Pittsfield
Ladies, if you’re looking to find a guy you need to look in their natural habitat. That means a place with good beer, wings and other fried things. The bar is a good size and they can draw a pretty nice crowd. If you want to see the place really get full of young Irishmen hit it up early and often next St. Patty’s Day.

Best Place To Meet Intelligent Men
Distinguised Lecture Series
Lenox
Always a hotbed for thought provoking conversation, the distinguished lecture series brings in some of the best authors and thinkers from the region and beyond to talk about important issues and topics that always bring out a great crowd. With such a wide array of conversations being held, its sure to be easy to break the ice with him.

Best Place To Met Women
Chameleons
Pittsfield
With a great dancing scene, the ladies love to dance, and some stiff drinks, they can only help your case; this is the place to try. On a Friday or Saturday night the place can attract a pretty good singles crowd for a Berkshire County club.

Best PlaceTo Meet Intelligent Women
Green Drinks
Great Barrington and Pittsfield
The dating scene can be a rough game, but if you are looking for a little more substance that what you might find at the club take a trip to a green drinks event. An open discussion forum on mostly environmental issues, each week encourages meeting and talking with new people at the events, talking issues in an intellectually stimulating environment. A great way to meet new people in general, and even better if you are hoping for some really engaging conversations.

Best Open Mic
Gypsy Joynt
Great Barrington
Sometimes there is nothing better than seeing an unknown musician, with no idea what to expect, completely blow you away. The place to see these stars before they were stars is at your local open mic and no one does it better than the Gypsy Joynt. There are numerous talented musicians tucked away in our humble Berkshire region and they turn out for this one. Led by Jordan Weller, who will occasionally perform as well, the nights bring out all sorts of styles and ages. You’ll see guitars, ukuleles full bands, stand up bass and cello, and vocalists performing their favorite covers or personal songs. Its a great hub of talent and entertainment and a fantastic way to spend a Wednesday night.

Best Bar Food
The Well
Great Barrington
When you head out to the bar, the hunger pangs may very well follow you so having a solid bar menu is a must. The Well delivers above and beyond. They could win it all with their wings alone, the best in the Berkshires, but that’s just the start. Mouth watering burgers made with grass fed beef that will hit the spot, a plethora of sandwiches, and quesadillas and nachos packed with cheese are still only the tip of the iceberg. House specials include Biff’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken that comes with bacon-whipped potatoes. Bring on the food coma.

Best Place To Bring A Date
Mission
Pittsfield
There’s a lot of stress that can come in choosing where to bring your guy or girl for a date. Do you want to share a candle light dinner, grab a few drinks, go see live music? Mission makes that decision easy with plenty of great beers and spirits as well as an excellent atmosphere featuring single and bench tables both candle lit to help add a dash of romance to the evening. Mission also boasts an impressive lineup of weekly musicians including Andy Wraba and Friends playing Jazz and the Picky Bastards supplying an always enjoyable dose of live music, there is plenty to entertain your suitor or suitor-ette.

Best Atmosphere
The Brickhouse pub
Housatonic
The Brickhouse Pub is one of the best spots you will find not just in the Berkshires but within the surrounding region. It is a contender for almost every nightlife category but its overall excellence lands it in the best atmosphere. There is a comforting vibe as you enter with plenty of spots to sit either at the bar or surrounding tables. Enjoy live music with and staff that are both friendly and helpful to navigate their incredible beer selection and a menu stocked with great bar food and entrées its easy to relax while inside. This is a place that can easily become a favorite after just one visit.

Best Place To Catch Up With Old Friends
20 Railroad
Great Barrington
Bars offer a great palce to see people and congregate. But the right bar is crucial for an experience centered around conversation like catching up with old pals and the spot to rendezvous is 20 Railroad in Great Barrington. With an inviting atmosphere that offers both comfortable social encouragement with a relaxed overtone no place to chat over a beer can compare to the offerings of the Railroad street establishment. The bar offers a great list of craft beers from across the country as well as local favorites, as well as a menu for both light dining and full meals to reconnect with the people in your life. It’s location is another bonus in the middle of one of the most bustling points in the Berkshires to guarantee a great time to be had.

Best Unique Menu
Gypsy Joynt
Housatonic
The Gypsy Joynts menu is a wild ride fit for the atmosphere of the restaurant and bar. Delicious offerings involving combinations that you could have only dreamed of while battling the munchies are available in quantity. Burgers come covered in mac and cheese and chilli and one “the Pizza” turns your patty into a pie with pepperoni, mainara sauce and mozzarella. Sandwiches stuffed with everything imaginable and dozens of styles of 10, 14 and 18 inch pizzas with even more toppings to build your own. The entree names themselves are just unique with dishes like “Yo Adrian” “Ya, Jerk” “Wiseguy” and “Hen Party” reading the menu is almost as appetizing.

Best Dive Bar
Bucky’s tavern
Lee
A great dive bar can be crucial to enjoying your night out in town. There is nothing better than a place that embraces itself with an “I am what I am attitude” not full of air and pompousness like so many bars and restaurants fall into. Bucky’s Tavern in Lee is that type of place. A straight forward get a beer and hang out type of establishment that can be a much needed breath of fresh air. And with the occasional appearance by Inferno, the Berkshire County’s resident Bull, nights can be unpredictable but always entertaining under its roof. If you find yourself in Lee, make sure to check it out and grab a beer at the dive bar alter.

Best Place To See A Movie
The Beacon Cinema
Pittsfield
Quite possibly the heart of Pittsfield’s downtown revitalization process, The Beacon Cinema is the definitive moviegoing destination in Berkshire County, with six large digital-3D screens showcasing a nice mix of both critical and commercial properties. The theater’s now-popular “$5 Tuesdays” discount offering has helped it pull nearly 200,000 patrons per year. The Beacon Cinema often broadcasts live sporting events and holds screenings of popular television premieres and finales. As an added bonus, they also serve beer and wine, including a few nice local selections.

Best Weeknight Bar
Mission
Pittsfield
A relatively subdued atmosphere and ongoing weekly music events make Mission Bar + Tapas the perfect weeknight bar spot. Jazz Night with local musician Andy Wrba takes place every Monday at 8 p.m., while Jordan Franklin hosts open mic every Tuesday night at 8 p.m., as well. The Picky Bastards, a popular local collective of rotating folk/bluegrass/Americana musicians, also play every Thursday at 8 p.m. Their selection of affordable tapas, extensive wine list, and local beer options don’t hurt either.

Best Wings
Cim’s Tavern
Pittsfield
People can get pretty defensive over their favorite chicken wings in Berkshire County, but with multiple Wing Fling wins under their belt, Cim’s Tavern takes the cake. Their saucy, classic take on traditional hot wings come in orders of 10, while the crowd favorite, brandy-glazed Cim’s Wings come in smaller orders of 8 (big things come in small baskets). By using a higher grade, meatier chicken wing, Cim’s succeeds at balancing the elusive sauce versus wing meat ratio. Pair them with some draft beer and enjoy watching sports on their massive LCD screen.

Best Place To Get A Slice Of Pizza After Last Call
Teddy’s Pizza
Pittsfield
Open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and having won the title of “Best Pizza in Berkshire County” at the Moment’s House Slice of Life competition three years in a row, Teddy’s Pizza and Family Restaurant may be the best place to combat those late night munchies. Complimenting the addition of a new wooden bar and countertop, Teddy’s recently acquired a full liquor license and serves a full menu of food and mixed specialty drinks. Last call in Berkshire County is generally around 12 a.m.; so continuing your night at Teddy’s might be the best move.

Best Spot To Go After 5 On Fridays
The Well
Great Barrington
When it’s quittin’ time, it’s time to go to The Well. No matter how packed this place gets - anyone with a pulse who’s going out on Friday or Saturday is bound to end up here at some point - the staff manages to crank out the cold ones and tasty bar food with uncompromising friendliness. For a bar that’s easy on the wallet, they have some awesome munchies, from personal pizzas and burgers to some of the best wings in the area. And their drink selection ain’t too shabby, either - any place you can get $2 bottles of beer AND a glass of Oban scotch is pretty nice. Their motto is simple and rings true: Eat, drink and be Well.

Runner Up
20 Railroad Street

Best Trivia Night
Morgan House
Lee
Thursday nights at the Morgan House mean two things - great food and free fun. If you’re up to flexing your trivia knowledge, their free-to-play trivia is a good mix of local tidbits and international head-scratchers, ranging from the super-easy to some questions only the hardened factoid freaks will get (can you name the six countries in the world whose name have only one syllable? I certainly couldn’t). If you win, you get $20 knocked off your bill, so fill up on their excellent comfort food and pub fare, as well as their huge beer and wine selection.

Best Place to Shoot Pool
Bogie’s
Great Barrington
Three words: Free. Pool. Mondays. There’s no better place to stop off after work or on the weekend and shoot some pool for a few games, or a few hours. With super-affordable drinks and pub fare, as well as some kickin’ music geared for dancing on weekends, Bogie’s is the billiards destination.

Runner Up
Casey’s Billiards
Pittsfield

Best Place For Dirt Cheap Drink Deals
The Sheffield Pub
Sheffield
Try as you might, you just can’t beat this place’s deals. Once again, the spot to get your dirt cheap drinks is The Sheffield Pub. One of Sheffield’s best-kept secrets also happens to be the best place to pay for a beer in pennies. With draft beer prices as low as $1, it’s a great place to sit back and relax or shoot some pool. You don’t really see a whole lot of bars with “No Cussin’” signs any more (the actual enforcement rate of this rule notwithstanding), but it adds to the downhome feel of this no-frills establishment. They’ve got a couple of pool tables, which you should have plenty of quarters for given how thrifty the drink prices are.

Best Bartender
The Well, Biff
Great Barrington
The best bars rely on having the best bartenders to keep their customers happy, entertained, and brighten their spirits when you really need a beer after work. Lucky for those of us in Great Barrington we have Biff. While he is co-owner, he also serves from behind the bar and boy are you lucky if you are there when he is. He’s a warm, kind hearted man who will be sure your pint is full and you’ve had a laugh before you head out the door. There may be plenty of mixologists and wizards at making cocktails throughout the Berkshires, but I’ll put my money on Biff everytime.

NIGHTLIFE: Readers' Choice (Return to The Best top)
Best Lounge/Restaurant
Brick House
Housatonic
Our readers love this place. With a casual atmosphere that’s both quaint and hip and entertainment ranging from folk pop and hip-hop MC’s to burlesque shows, The Brick House is the go-to place for a no-frills night on the town once again winning best lounge. While you take in the evening’s choice entertainment, you’ll have your druthers of delectable pub fare (if you’re feeling adventurous, go for the deep-fried, bacon-wrapped hot dogs) and a top-notch, ever-rotating selection of craft brews (Dogfish Head, Smuttynose, Green Flash, oh my) as well as an impressive list of spirits.

Runner up
Club Helsinki
Hudson, N.Y.

Best Karaoke Bar
Michael’s Restaurant and Lounge
Stockbridge
With a song bank of thousands upon thousands upon THOUSANDS of hits ranging from Michael Buble to Metallica and every possible tune in between, Michael’s Restaurant and Lounge is the place to go in the Berkshires if you want to scratch the Karaoke itch. They’ve even got 46 different iconic TV show theme songs if your idea of a night on the town is a couple of brews and serenading the night away to theme of All in the Family. With outstanding service and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Michael’s is the place to sing your heart out.

Best Hangout (South)
The Well
Great Barrington
The Well has all the things to look forward to every Friday night – great food and drink, hospitable service and a fun, casual atmosphere for young and old alike. Aside from a formidable spirits selection and a choice round up of familiar and unique bottled and draft beer (try the Blue Point toasted lager), it’s got some bang-up bar food: Probably the best pizza you can get at a pub and some of the best wings in the Berkshires. Throw in a couple of dartboards, some occasional live music and a great bar and wait staff, and you’ve got a place you can go every weekend – or weeknight.

Best Little Bar
The Well
Great Barrington
The Well may be the best little pub around, but it’s a big draw for a reason: A quality selection of affordable drinks and grade-A bartenders pouring them – it’s as simple as that. Even when it’s inevitably packed every Friday night, the friendly and more-than-competent staff make sure every customer is satisfied. So whether you’re there for the best Guinness pour in town, a specialty “Well-tini,” or if you brought your appetite for their oft raved-about pesto pizza or award-winning wings, you’ll quickly see why The Well is the place for a low-key night on the town.

Best Sports Bar
The Locker Room
Lee
With a name like The Locker Room, they’d better be a good sports bar – lucky for them, they are indeed the place to go to catch the game with some friends, or just for a quick, scrumptious, no-frills meal. With a dozen beers on tap and as many big screen TVs lining the walls, plus $.50 cent wing nights on Sundays and Mondays, it’s hard to imagine a better place to be on gameday. And if you’re there for a doubleheader, move beyond the standard pub fare and appetizers and grab a meal from their incredibly cheap, incredibly delicious lunch and dinner selections – massive grinders, mouth-watering pizzas and lunch specials galore.

Best Live Music
Gypsy Joynt
Great Barrington
For some audiophiles, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a good cup of joe and taking in some great live music in a café setting – and the Gypsy Joynt is the place to do it. Their warm, local community atmosphere is comforting and welcoming, and their dedication to satisfying their customers on both the grub and music fronts makes them hands down the go-to music club in the area. Their lineups frequently feature the cream of the crop of local talent, as well as some well-known favorites – this spring, look out for underground Gypsy folk giants Bella’s Bartok, local folk hero Annie Guthrie and Berkshire favorites the B.T.U.’s.

Best Local Bar
The Brick House
Housatonic
A close runner up for best Live Music, this fantastic bar in Housatonic, is the perfect place to casually tie one on after a day at the office, or head over with friends for a fun evening out. An eclectic beer list that is constantly rotating with some of the best craft brews around will bring you in but their menu also features some great bar food and entrees. But their expertise is in their live entertainment with night after night of great local and regional bands. The Brick House should be at the top of your list when looking to go out.

Best Local Hangout (Central)
Mazcots Sports Bar & Grill
Pittsfield
While still relatively new, Mazcots Sports Bar & Grill has all the makings of a great local hangout—fun, food, and games. In addition to multiple flat screen HDTVs for watching the game, Mazcots has two pool tables and a digital jukebox to boot. They also have 20 beers on taLp, as well as various cans and bottles. Walls papered in Sports Illustrated covers compliment the spacious layout, complete with plenty of seating. They also offer a variety of bar food and entrees for lunch and dinner.

Best Local Hangout (North)
Old Forge Restaurant
Lanesborough
With its cozy, inviting environment and extensive beer selection, the Olde Forge Restaurant is the perfect spot to curl up during the cold weather. However, as warmer weather approaches, their big deck and outdoor seating prove just as inviting. Touting the “finest and largest selection of imported and domestic beer in the county,” the Forge also has TVs to watch sporting events and an event room downstairs to host parties. To top it all off, they also have an array of award winning hot wings, making it one of North County’s busiest spots.


HOME & DESIGN (Return to The Best top)
Best Top Selling Broker of 2013
Chapin Fish
Chapin Fish of wm. Brockman Real Estate
Great Barrington
Chapin Fish, broker and partner of wm. Brockman Real Estate, is the powerhouse of Berkshire County real estate. No other real estate broker in the county sells more than Chapin. Whether you’re looking for a multi-million dollar estate or a comfortable family home, Chapin’s experience, expertise and track record make him the first choice. His innovative marketing techniques and leading technology assures you success in buying, selling or renting Berkshire County real estate.
Phone: (413) 528-4859
Website: www.berkshiresforsale.com

Best Internet Marketing
lance vermuelen real estate
Lance Vermuelen Real Estate, Inc.
Great Barrington
As a local industry leader, Lance Vermuelen Real Estate, Inc., is a master of designing and developing short- and long-term Internet marketing campaigns.  The Internet marketing team at Lance Vermuelen Real Estate, Inc., works closely with their clients to customize and develop effective Internet campaigns that are specifically tailored to their clients’ needs.  Utilizing the latest in Internet technology, they can locate prospects within a generic or a specific target audience.  Lance Vermuelen Real Estate’s Internet marketing team can help you successfully promote your Berkshire County real estate on the Internet today.  By giving their clients the best and most comprehensive Internet marketing available in the area, they are constantly exceeding expectations and getting properties effectively listed and sold.
Phone: (413) 528-6011
Website: www.lancerealestate.com

Best Trusted Real Estate Company
Wheeler & Taylor
Real Estate
Great Barrington & Stockbridge
As a trusted Berkshire County institution since 1871, Wheeler and Taylor Realty is and has always been an expert at redefining the local real estate industry standard. For more than 140 years, Wheeler and Taylor Realty has been helping people find their ideal property(s), homes, farms, lands and businesses, throughout Berkshire County. Committed to excellence and solid knowledge of the local market, the real estate professionals at Wheeler and Taylor are well known for providing over-the-top service to all their clients. Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling a property in the Berkshires, you need to look no further than the Berkshires most trusted the real estate company, Wheeler and Taylor, the Berkshires Best Trusted Real Estate company – since 1871.
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Full Service Real Estate Company
Barnbrook Realty
Great Barrington
Mary White and Maureen White and their company Barnbrook Realty have been the driving force behind South County real estate over the last 25 years. Since 1984, the company has diligently served clients in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate. If you’re looking for a company that can help you with everything in Berkshire County real estate from finding, buying, selling property as well as relocation services, than Barnbrook Realty is your complete, full-service real estate company solution. No other company in Berkshire County can match their experience, connections and hardworking staff and overall support network.
Phone: (413) 528-4423

Best Interior Designer
Sue Schwarz
Sheffield
Working with clients throughout New York, Connecticut and the Berkshires, Gallery315 HOME has extensive expertise in interior design. Rave reviews support our philosophy of partnering with our clients and translating their vision into comfortable, uncluttered homes. We’ve helped clients update their spaces, find furniture and lighting, re-upholster furniture that feels “dated,” and integrate the old with the new. In addition to hosting free seminars on home design, Sue Schwarz makes scheduled trips to wholesale resources in NYC with individuals and small groups of area residents. Call to inquire and to schedule your complimentary home consultation.
Phone: (413) 917-701-3841

Best Up & Comers
Rose Baumann & Chuck Gillett
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Great Barrington
As Berkshire County natives, Rose Baumann and Chuck Gillett are well on their way to establishing themselves in the local real estate scene. With a solid background in sales and hospitality Rose Baumann understands the importance of accentuating the positive aspects of each and every individual property.  Chuck Gillett, with a background in marketing and is well versed in all aspects of Berkshire County properties and works to help both buyers and sellers find the perfect fit. 
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Fuel Company
Kimball Fuels
Great Barrington
You won’t get left out in the cold next winter with Kimball Fuels, a leader in home heating oil, diesel fuel, propane and heating services. Kimball Fuels has been warming homes and businesses for many years. Built on the strong tradition of providing excellent products and first-rate customer service, it is no wonder that Kimball Fuels is a leader in providing Berkshire County full and part-time residents with heating fuels. They also have a 24-hour service department that can repair, maintain and install a full range of boilers, tanks and other home heating related products.
Phone: (413) 528-1410

Best #1 Selling Real Estate Agency in Berkshire County
Berkshire Property Agents
Great Barrington
What does it take to be number one? It takes a lot of hard work, determination and success. And in Berkshire County that company is Berkshire Property Agents. As the county’s number one best selling real estate agency, Berkshire Property Agents has sold more real estate in 2013 than any other real estate company. The fact is, if you’re looking to sell your Berkshire County property, there’s really only one choice - Berkshire Property Agents.
Phone: 413-528-6800

Best Historic Home Specialists
Elyse Harney Real Estate
Salisbury, Conn.
If you’re looking for the ideal historic home in the tri-state area, Elyse Harney Real Estate should be your first and only stop. Well-known for their understanding and unparalleled appreciation of the area’s most desirable historic homes, the real estate professionals at Elyse Harney Real Estate can help even the most discerning buyers find that perfect historic home. Stop by and see why they often exceed customer expectations and successfully maintain their reputation as the best at finding, buying and selling historic homes throughout the tri-state region.
Phone: 860-435-2200

Best New Agent
Elle Villetto
Elle Villetto
Lance Vermuelen Real Estate, Inc.
Great Barrington
Born and raised in scenic Sheffield, Elle Villetto grew-up a native of the Berkshires. A graduate of Mt. Everett high school, Elle went on to attend the Sante Fe University of Art and Design where she studied art history. After completion in 1999, Elle moved to Austin, Texas where she lived for ten years and ran two successful women’s retail fashion companies. In 2009, she returned home with her daughter, Evie, and was quickly attracted to the Berkshires’ thriving real estate industry. Now living in Lenox with Evie and her son, Asher, Elle specializes in several Berkshire County neighborhoods including Lenox, Great Barrington and Sheffield.
Phone: (413) 528-6011
Cell: (413) 717-7534
Fax: (413) 528-1837
ellevillettolynch@yahoo.com

Best Home Insurance
Frank Consolati Insurance, Inc.
Lee
Serving Berkshire County families since 1942, Frank Consolati Insurance is a family-owned independent insurance company with a small, efficient staff that focus on providing personalized service to each individual client, allowing customers to work with the same experienced agent throughout the process from start to finish. They offer homeowners insurance, mobile home insurance, renters insurance and floor insurance, and bring their 71 years of experience to meeting the home insurance needs of Berkshire families.
Phone: (413) 243-0105

Best Real Estate Broker
Lisa Bouchard
Kinderhook
Real Estate Group
Stockbridge, Pittsfield

Best Service In Real Estate
wm. Brockman
real estate
Great Barrington
The first step in finding your dream home in the Berkshires, or selling your property, is finding the right real estate company. One that gives unparalleled and unmatched service to their clients is essential. Here in the Berkshires, that company is wm. Brockman Real Estate. Founded more than 35 years ago by Bill Brockman and Jack Jefferson, the firm has diligently practiced Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy of “Be true to your work, and your word, and your friend.” And that rings true today. Under the leadership of Chapin Fish, Broker-Partner, wm. Brockman Real Estate is just as committed today to provide the finest, 5-star personalized service in the Berkshires. If you’re looking for a cutting-edge, authentic real estate firm with market expertise and decades of success and experience with a complete and comprehensive solutions-based approach to your next real estate transaction, call wm. Brockman Real Estate today. Web: berkshiresforsale.com
Phone: 413-528-4859

Best Top Producer
Tim Lovett
Berkshire Property Agents
Great Barrington
Tim Lovett has been and continues to be a major part of Berkshire County’s real estate growth. As one of the owners and a broker at Berkshire Property Agents, Lovett is, year after year, a consistent top producer in his company and in the county. Lovett’s individual annual sales place him consistently in Berkshire County’s top 1% of Realtors. Whether you’re looking for a comfortable first or second home or a luxury estate, Lovett’s keen knowledge of the local real estate market combined with his company’s leading edge technology give him the ultimate tools assuring that his clients will have the best services when it comes to buying or selling their home.
Phone: (413) 528-6800

Best Architect
Pamela Sandler, AIA
Stockbridge
Pamela Sandler has been working with clients to create living and working spaces in the Berkshires for a quarter century. Extremely well-versed in code compliance and experienced in the local permitting process, she is registered in Massachusetts as well as New York and Connecticut, and has worked on every conceivable project type, from residences of all shapes and sizes to lodging, spa, worship and well-being spaces. An early adopter in the use of green building materials and techniques, her portfolio includes award-winning historic preservation and residential work that has been published in Boston Magazine.
Phone: (413) 298-4227

Best Website
Lance Vermeulen
Real Estate
When it comes to searching the web for Berkshire County real estate, there are many options available. But if you’re looking for the best designed and maintained website that has access to the finest listings throughout the Berkshires, there’s only one site to visit - lancerealestate.com.  Designed with the end user in mind, the website for Lance Vermeulen Real Estate, Inc., is easy to navigate and features mobile and smart device versions as well.  Once on lancerealestate.com, you’ll find their latest listings including residential, commercial, land, condos, multi-family, and rentals, and also have access to all Berkshire County MLS Listings. So, if you’re searching for Berkshire County real estate, there’s only one site you need: lancerealestate.com.
Phone: (413) 528-6011

Best Realtor Of Hard To Sell Properties
Tim Donnelly
Great Barrington
It might sound easy to sell Berkshire County real estate, but the truth is that Tim Donnelly is the local Realtor that many count to sell some of the Berkshires’ hardest to sell properties. With his professional and steadfast enthusiasm, Tim is successful because he not only understands his clients’ needs but also  understands the market and sets realistic prices to help sellers sell their properties sooner than later. “I work with my clients to manage expectations and set realistic goals while at the same time present successful marketing of their properties which yields results.”
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Realtor For 1st Time Homebuyers
Marji Keefner-West
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Great Barrington
As a first time homebuyer, one might feel intimidated by the whole process of buying Berkshire County real estate. Fear not, Marji Keefner-West, with over 20 years experience in Berkshire County, is your practical and experienced Realtor who specializes in working with first-time home buyers. Marji knows what it takes not only to help buyers understand the buying process, but to also feel comfortable throughout the process and fully satisfied with the end results.
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Development Agency
Berkshire Property Agents
Great Barrington
If you’re planning to build in the Berkshires, Berkshire Property Agents is your complete solution for both residential and commercial projects. They help you throughout the entire process from start to finish. They work daily with local engineers, designers, architects and builders to achieve your dream home. Berkshire Property Agents can help you with any and all aspects of a project and have the expertise and experience to back it up. Call them today if you’re planning to build in the Berkshires.
Phone: 413-528-6800

Best Second Home Specialist
Barbara Schulman
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Stockbridge
Barbara excels at finding the right vacation home in the Berkshires for her clients. She is dedicated, focused and in tune with their needs and concerns.  She has a strong record of successfully matching her discerning buyers with  properties which will be perfect for them., always keeping in mind the property attributes which are important to them…location, price, home style, necessary square footage and the like. She has a proven success rate and would love to hear from new clients. 
Phone: (413) 298 3786

Best Real Estate Team
David Walker-Price & Melissa Jacobs
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Great Barrington
David Walker- Price and Melissa Jacobs of Wheeler and Taylor Realty are a team with over forty four years of proven experience.  They are savvy top producers with extensive knowledge of the Southern Berkshire real estate market.  Both sellers and buyers have greatly appreciated  their sophisticated and ultimately successful approach in helping to achieve their real estate goals.  Both David and Melissa are well travelled ex-urbanites who have solid roots in this beautiful part of the world. 
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Property Management
Berkshire Property Agents
Great Barrington
Berkshire Property Agents manages Berkshire County residential and commercial properties with the highest standard of professionalism and attention to personal service. Berkshire Property Agents handles everything from general maintenance to weekend party production. They can help you.
Phone: 413-528-6800

Best Realtor For Homebuyers That Want To Rent Their Home
Claudia Laslie
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Great Barrington
Have you considered buying and then renting your home? Well look no further. Specializing in second and vacation homes along with the associated rental of that property, Claudia Laslie acts as liaison between tenant and homeowner. Managing both vacation sales and long-term rentals since 2005. For more information, please call Claudia Laslie today.
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Realtor For New Marlborough
Freddy Friedman
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Great Barrington
New Marlborough, a township of five villages, is a great place that many first and second homeowners love to call home and are passionate about the seclusion the area offers. This passion for New Marlborough real estate is embodied by Freddy Friedman. As both a resident and expert in New Marlborough real estate, Freddy Friedman knows the local real estate market well and can help almost any buyer with small, medium or large budgets find the property of their dreams throughout New Marlborough.
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best Realtor for Land Use, Conservation & Development
Jonathan Hankin
Wheeler & Taylor Realty
Great Barrington
Buying or selling land in Berkshire County takes a Realtor with expertise and hands-on experience in land use, building and zoning. Jonathan Hankin, with over 35 years experience in architecture and real estate, is considered one of the best when it comes to finding and acquiring land throughout Berkshire County. The fact is, no other Realtor has the knowledge or insight into land and land development. If you’re considering buying land in the Berkshires, whether for farming, building a new home, or development, then the person you need to call first is Jonathan Hankin. 
Phone: (413) 528-1006

Best One Percenter
Christian Deckert
Berkshire Property Agents
Great Barrington
Hailing from Berlin, Germany, Christian Deckert has lived in Berkshire County since 2000. He studied Hotel & Restaurant Management in Lower Saxony while living on the East Frisian Island. After living in the Cotswolds in England he moved to the Berkshires to work at Wheatleigh and Pearl’s before joining Berkshire Property Agents in 2008. Based on his annual sales, Christian is part of the elite 1% club where his sales rank him in the top 1% of all Berkshire County real estate professionals. If you haven’t met Christian yet, you just might spot Christian around town in his cream colored vintage Mercedes Benz or on his Ducati motorcycle as he’s off on his way to another closing. The fact is, Christian moves fast so you can, too.
Phone: (413) 841-2813.

Best Nursery
Ward’s Nursery
Great Barrington
Supplying gardeners in the Berkshires, eastern New York, and northwestern Connecticut, Ward’s grows over 1,400 perennial selections and 700 different houseplants. Founded in 1957, they opened a new garden center as recently as 2010, becoming more energy efficient and sustainable in the process. They also carry soil, seeding supplies, tools, pottery, and fertilizer, among other garden needs.
Phone: (413) 528-0166

Best Pool Construction Co.
Aqua Pools
Berkshire County
When it comes to designing and building your custom dream pool, Aqua Pool is your total pool construction solution with over 44-years of experience. Working with you every step of the way from the planning, designing and permitting phases throughout the construction of your custom pool, the professionals at Aqua Pool are there to help and guide you every step of the way. And remember, behind every great home is an Aqua Pool. It is not just the company’s slogan, it’s how you’ll feel in your new Aqua pool.
Phone: (800) 722-2782

Best Rental Services
Taylor Rental
Great Barrington
They’ve got a phrase over at Taylor Rental: Rent the equipment, keep the advice. Not only do these guys have just about any equipment you could possibly want to rent - from contracting and contruction vehicles to wedding and party equipment to moving and shipping necessities - they also have the knowhow to hook you up with just what you’re looking for, and make sure you know how to use it properly for whatever job or event you need it for.
Phone: (413) 528-1770

Best Plumbing
LePrevost
Lee
Over 5,000 satisfied customers are reason enough to flush your worries down the drain when you’ve got the professionals at LePrevost handling your plumbing needs. For the past 16 years, they’ve been offering nationally-recognized oustanding service to seasonal and year-round Berkshire residents.
Phone: (413) 243-1777

Best Landscape Design
passionflower
Southfield
Named not for the flower, but for the love of the work, Passionflower’s donation gardens and wildflowers in Southfield, as well as her work in private gardens and lush planters around the Southern Berkshire region and Westchester County, N.Y., are a vivid testament to their careful and quality work. Passionflower does everything from consultations to sketches, scale drawings, contracting, design/build, maintenance and interior floral design.
Phone: (413) 229-2818

Best Propane
Carlson Propane
Sheffield
The family-owned and operated Carlson Propane uses the most durable, cost-effective and efficient products available. They provide both a commitment to service and a well-trained staff that can meet all needs, no matter how large or small. As a result, they are able to provide clean, efficient propane to fit everyone’s needs.
Phone: (413) 229-3328

Best Electrical Appliances
Henry’s Electric
Lee
Henry’s sets itself apart from the competition as the appliance specialist of Berkshire County by means of its sheer breadth of knowledge and selection for any and all appliance needs. Family owned and operated since 1946, they’re authorized dealers of over 40 brands, which allows them to offer something for every budget. They also service what they sell, and have a full service department that consists of factory-trained technicians who are able to repair and maintain all the quality appliances they sell for many years.
Phone: (413) 243-0690

Best Place for Remodeling
Morrison’s Home Improvement
Pittsfield
A fully licensed and insured General Contracting Company (GCC) established in 1992 by Steve Morrison, Morrison’s Home Improvement handles all parts of the home improvement process from handyman services to refurbishing and new construction. They specialize in saving customers energy and money through the installation of energy efficient windows and offer a large selection of products in every price range. They also guarantee quality work and customer satisfaction.
Phone: (413) 442-3001

Best Retailer for Modern Home Furnishing
Sue Schwarz
Sheffield
Under the direction of Sue Schwarz, Gallery315 HOME provides designers and their clients with unique pieces that will complement their specific style and aesthetic. While the collection is weighted heavily in 20th century design, Sue and her team enjoy showing great piece of folk art or a richly grained antique that will add substance, texture and interest to the vision you have in mind. The store tries to showcase local artists and designers, as well as icons like James Mont, Milo Baughman, and Vladimir Kagan. 0pen Thursday-Sunday, 11-5 and by appointment. Always good to call ahead.
Phone: (917) 701-3841

Best Pools
Leisure Pools
Great Barrington
Serving the tri-state area with quality workmanship and innovative design, Leisure Pools is the place to go whether you’re just starting to contemplate a pool or you’re ready to construct and install. Beautifully constructed pools all over Berkshire, Columbia and Litchfield counties are a testament to the pride that Leisure Pools puts into each and every pool they painstakingly design.
Phone: (413) 528-1765

Best Pest Control
Catseye Pest Control
Berkshire County
Catseye Pest Control is a family-owned business servicing residential and commercial institutions. Catseye has been protecting homes and families for over 25 years and is one of the few elite companies in the nation to receive the Quality Pro Badge, the Mark of Excellence in Pest Management. Catseye’s mission is to provide clients in the Berkshires with the best pest management service experience from beginning to end. We eliminate and prevent pest infestations, while maintaining protection to our clients’ homes and families along with being stewards to the environment.
Phone: (518) 732-7378

Best Commerical Real Estate Agent
Kim Wilder – Barnbrook Realty
Great Barrington
While she is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in Berkshire County residential real estate, Kim Wilder has become a “guru” of Berkshire County commercial real estate. As a commercial specialist with Barnbrook Realty, Kim knows and understands every aspect of commercial real estate - everything from buying, selling and developing commercial property in Berkshire County. Whether your project is large or small, Kim is your contact for commercial real estate throughout Berkshire County.
Phone: (413) 528-4423.

Best Condos
Lenox Condos
Lee
Devon Meadow, conveniently located in Lee, MA on the Stockbridge/Lenox line in the beautiful Berkshires. Only 5 minutes to Tanglewood, Devon Meadow is close to all Berkshire attractions, including cultural venues, shopping, dining, golf and a full service hospital. Enjoy maintenance free living on spectacular scenic grounds. 3-5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 baths, Fireplaces, Screen Porches, Oversize Decks,2-Car Garage, Central Air Units starting from $775,000. Financing available.
Phone: (413) 637-0843

Best Place for Vintage Furniture
Circa
Pittsfield
Circa, the Berkshires’ self-proclaimed “resource for Big City Style,” is a unique mercantile in downtown Pittsfield that buys and sells vintage collectibles and Danish and mid-century furnishings from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Opened in the summer of 2012, owner Rebecca Barnini has tapped into a thriving niche market, taking advantage of the growing opportunities on North Street.
Phone: (413) 445-7200

Best Boutique Real Estate Company
Berkshire Country Home & Properties
Great Barrington
Berkshire Country Homes Real Estate was founded with the guiding principal of customer driven service, integrity, creativity and hard work. Whether buying, selling, or looking for a vacation or investment property, we make every effort to understand where you are in life right now,  We strive to understand your personality and your aspirations, taking pride in helping guide you to fulfill your vision for living.  Enjoy our award winning website: berkshirecountryhomesrealestate.com.
Phone: (413) 528-4311

Best Lenox Townhouse
Lenox Woods at Kennedy Park
Lenox
Lenox Woods at Kennedy Park is only 5 minutes to Tanglewood and close to all Berkshire attractions, including cultural venues, shopping, dining, golf and a full service hospital. These two floor units are approximately 1,800 square feet and each have a large first floor Master Bedroom with a 10-foot ceiling with crown molding. The spacious Great Room has a gas fireplace, 10-foot ceiling and connects to an open kitchen. Other features include central air conditioning and rear deck with sliders from the great room. All units have attached garages are Energy Star Rated. joggers, cross-country skiers, bird watchers and mountain bikers.
Phone: (413) 637-0843

Best Pittsfield Townhouses
The Pines at Bousquet
A luxury townhome community comfortably nestled at the foot of historic Bousquet Mountain Ski Resort. Centrally located near golfing, hiking, boating, cultural and historic destinations, shopping, hospital care, schools and major employment centers. In the summer, Bousquet is transformed into an adventure and water park.Features include first floor master suite, fireplaces, central air, lovely common grounds, maintenance free living, oversized open decks, 2-car garages.
Phone: (413) 637-0843



The Best 2015

Finding the Best the Berkshires has to offer is certainly no easy task.
So to help, the Berkshire Record is now featuring the best the Berkshire has to offer in The Berkshire Record Magazine Best 2015. You'll discover the best parts about living, working and playing in the Berkshires.
Each survey submitted will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate from a local participating restaurant. Pickup a copy of this week’s Record to find a complete survey and help us identify the Best in the Berkshires. You can also download a survey by clicking the link below. See survey for details.

Download The 2015 Best Reader Survey (PDF)
 

Submitting your complete survey:

Send us your completed survey by one of the following methods:
1. Mail: P.O. Box 868, Gt. Barrington, MA 01230
2. Drop Off: 21 Elm St., Gt. Barrington, MA 01230
3. E-Mail: scan & send to best@berkshirerecord.net
4. Fax: Fax to 413-528-9449