Messenger Post Media celebrates the region's finest in 146 categories

CANANDAIGUA — Finger Lakes residents crowned their favorite businesses, organizations and service providers Wednesday as Messenger Post Media hosted its 3rd annual Best of the Finger Lakes Awards Celebration. 

Upwards of 107,000 online voters chose Best of the Finger Lakes winners in 146 categories, including retail, destination, dining, health care, education, home and personal services, shopping and recreation. Awards were presented Wednesday at the Messenger Post gala hosted by Canandaigua Country Club and catered by Nolan’s on Canandaigua Lake. 

“We’ve got a lot of new faces this year, which is really exciting,” said Messenger Post General Manager Beth Kesel. “There were a lot of regulars, too, but voters definitely mixed it up this year.”

This selection process is not something that’s decided by a few people sitting around a table, she said.

“This is really the public speaking,” Kesel said.

“I think the best part of this was that we got a lot of small, local businesses this year like Fitzgerald Limousines and Potter Heating, Cooling and Plumbing — people we didn’t have last year,” she said. “And it’s always wonderful when we see our local hospital take so many awards. Thompson did that again.”

As much fun as it was to have so many winners under one roof overlooking Canandaigua Lake, it was a treat to visit a few honorees who couldn’t attend the Wednesday gala to hand-deliver their awards.

“I went into Pontillo’s to let them know they won best pizza and best chicken wings,” said Kesel. “I’m telling you, six guys came running out of the kitchen screaming, they were so excited. It was wonderful to see.”

Best Server Award went to Patricia Loiacono of Peppers Deli and Pasta, who said she never expected to receive recognition for her work. 

“It’s awesome,” she said after receiving her plaque. “I do that as kind of a side thing so it’s really cool that people recognize that I do a good job. It makes me feel really good.”

She added a special shoutout of thanks to her employer, Nichi Ellis.

“She’s given me these opportunities and treated me so well and brought me in and I appreciate that,” Loiacono said.

4H Camp Bristol Hills Manager Jim Hooper was on hand to receive the Best of the Finger Lakes Education Award in the Summer Camp category. He was happy his camp was recognized and hopes “to build bridges” and “connect with other agencies in our community.”

UR Medicine Thompson Health CEO Michael Stapleton was surrounded by colleagues who accepted multiple Best in the Finger Lakes awards for best hospital, physical therapist, nursing home, assisted living, and urgent care.

“We greatly appreciate the trust the community puts in us,” said Stapleton. “We’re very proud to be the leading employer in this community, and it’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

The award for Best Education in the Area, college category went to Finger Lakes Community College.

“It’s an honor for us to be surrounded by all of these great local organizations and businesses,” said FLCC Public Relations and Events Coordinator Jessica Youngman. “It’s a really cool networking opportunity, and of course it’s nice to be recognized in the education category — it’s what we’re all about.”

Sweet Expressions owner Denise Chaapel, after being voted Best Specialty Shop in the Finger Lakes, also expressed her gratitude.

“We are continually humbled that we have such an incredible following and the businesses are continually supported by the community,” she said.