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The Best of the Inland No#5186C 

by Joel Smith & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ince The Inlander's first "Best of the Inland Northwest" issue back in 1994, we've faithfully reported back to you -- our readers -- on the people, places and phenomena that you voted for in our readers' choice contest. The best hamburger in town. The best sportscaster. The best car dealership. But if we have to write about Boo Radley's one more time, we're going to jump off the Monroe Street Bridge.

Not that there's anything wrong with Boo Radley's. We love it there. But after winning the Best Gifts category for the last 12 years, it's become clear that you don't need us to tell you about it. You're already hip to it.

So we're going to try to tell you something you don't know this year. Instead of simply reporting back on the winners of the readers' contest, we assembled a dozen writers and asked ourselves a couple of questions: What are people missing? What are the little jewels of day-to-day life in the Inland Northwest that aren't being recognized? And what makes up the fabric of our lives? What secrets do we have that we can share with you?

A lot of what we came up with are things that we love about living here -- old ads on the sides of buildings (page 33), Thin Air Radio (page 61), the chocolate-orange scones at BitterSweet Bakery (page 51). But we've also included stuff that we can't stand -- that's ugly or unfortunate or just laughable. But as much as we dislike the Spokane Public Schools building, for example (page 32), we recognize that it is every bit as central to our lives here as Boo Radley's, Schweitzer and Lake Coeur d'Alene.

We've also included a section on stuff we'd like to see in the future. Inlander editor Ted S. McGregor, Jr. offers a few ideas on new uses for Ankeny's (page 84) and the Boeing Amphitheater (page 81), for example.

Of course, this isn't to suggest that your votes went for nothing. We've still included all 84 of the winners in our readers' poll -- with quotes from you wise voters -- as well as the runners-up and the top vote-getters from North Idaho, when North Idaho contestants didn't make the top three.

The rest of it is highly subjective and totally biased. There's a lot that we love, hate and hope for in the Inland Northwest. We'll tell you about the rest of it next year.

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