Voting in the Finals of the 2021 Nappie Awards begins at noon on Wednesday, April 28 and runs through Sunday, May 23 at midnight. You can vote once per day at votenappies.com. For those of you who may be new to town, the Nappies are this newspaper’s readers’ choice awards. The Nappie Awards issue (this year it’s July 21) and awards ceremony (July 23) always coincide with the anniversary of our first paper, which was printed on July 24, 2002. This year marks 19 years of giving Mobile “a little something extra.”
Even though we have been doing this for 19 years, we still get a lot of questions every year on how the awards process works, so I thought I would take my column space this week to answer some of those.
So here goes ….
Why are they called the Nappies?
For some reason we decided to name our publication a word that most people could not pronounce or spell. In all honesty, on our prototype issue, we had it misspelled until about a week before we sent it to the printer. Lagniappe, pronounced “lan-yap,” is a French Creole word that means “a little something extra for free.” Since we aimed to give our area just that, it seemed to fit. But when we first started, many people called it Lag-NAP. They still do to this day. And so we just ran with that and decided to call the awards the Nappies, you know, the Lag-NAP’s readers’ choice awards.
How do they work?
Back when we first started, you just cut the ballot out of the paper, filled it out and mailed it in. And we counted them by hand. That was possible when we were new and small. But as the paper grew, along with the number of categories, the counting process became impossible, and it also caused “ballot stuffers” to go around town and raid all of our boxes so they could tear the ballots out of the paper.
While we love the Nappies too, there are other things in the paper besides the ballot, like important news stories and advertising, that we would like our other readers who are not as interested in the Nappies to be able to see. So for both of these reasons, we ultimately moved all voting online and off our main website (so the voting wouldn’t cause it to crash, which happened several times) to votenappies.com.
There are two periods of voting. First, we have the Nomination period. This year, that was in March. During this period, you can vote for ANY person, place, business, animal, idea, whatever in their respective categories. Obviously, it has to make sense. We aren’t going to let a barber be a finalist for Best Chef, but other than that the voting process is open and unfettered.
At the end of the Nomination period, we determine the top vote-getters in each category. Usually, we declare six finalists. But some categories don’t have that many — for instance, in the local TV station categories, there are only three choices. But, this year, in the “hot categories” we allowed up to eight finalists because there were ties or near ties for the sixth, seventh and eighth positions, and even the bottom three had received hundreds and hundreds of votes, so it seemed more fair to give all eight a shot in the Finals.
So, once again, now through May 23 we are in the Finals period. You can only vote for the listed nominees. No write-ins are allowed. You can vote once per day per category. Once the voting is over, we will declare the winners and start quietly notifying them in June.
How many categories are there? Why doesn’t my business have one?
These two questions are directly related. The answer to the first one is 366. Yes, 366. Yes, that is way too many. Why do you have that many? Well, because of the second question. Just when we think we have a category for everyone, every year during this time we get flooded with suggestions for new ones. And when we are already honoring so many different types of businesses, it’s hard to justify excluding something.
So, our general rule of thumb is as long as there are enough competing businesses in the same category, then we will add it. But say there are just one or two people in town making handcrafted, artisanal soaps, we aren’t going to create a new category for that until there are at least five or six people doing it. But we do have a new category this year that we hope will fill the void a little on this issue.
Under City Life, we have “My Business is Awesome but there is no Category for Me.” And the finalists are so varied, I just love it. We have everything from a custom balloon maker to personal firearm instruction service for women.
What are some of the new categories this year?
The last year has been pretty insane, to say the least. And we have all been focused on our health, or rather staying healthy. So we added a lot of new medical categories, including Best Doctor to Kick COVID’s ass, Super Nurse, Best Lung Doc, Best Allergist, Best ENT and Best Therapist/Counselor.
In Arts, we have Best Local Art Photographer and Best Classical Musician, among others. In City Life, we ask our readers who or what, if anything, should be the replacement for the Admiral Semmes statue. You guys had some really interesting suggestions! In Music, we have Best Brass Band. And in Politicos, it’s a municipal election year in Mobile, so we ask “Who Will Be Our Next Mayor?” And we look ahead to the 2022 Senate race for Richard Shelby’s open seat. Secretary of State John Merrill was a finalist but we DQ-ed him for obvious reasons.
When will the winners be announced? When is the awards ceremony?
The winners will be announced in the July 21 issue of Lagniappe. The ceremony will take place Friday, July 23 at the Mobile Civic Center Theater, as the Saenger will be closed for repairs. This year we are changing up the awards presentation a bit. Instead of having everyone walk up on the stage to accept their award (and share a microphone, as we are coming out of a pandemic), we will be asking all winners to send in a video acceptance speech ahead of time.
It can be funny and include your whole staff. The more creative the better. We will take them all and produce one super sharp video for each group. It should be highly entertaining and make the ceremony move along much faster. If you ever been to a Nappie Awards ceremony, it’s a great time, attended by our area’s movers, shakers and troublemakers. You will see the mayor and the best metal band mingling, as well as the best spiritual leader and drag queen performer. It really gives you a full glimpse at the rich, diverse and vibrant spectrum that is our beloved home.
But, the awards do start to drag at the end and especially with this many categories, we needed to make it more efficient and punchier. We think the video presentation will do just that. And we can’t wait for you all to see yourselves and your creations up on the big screen.
So, that’s pretty much it in a Nappie nutshell. Happy voting!
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