More than 300 guests attended the Log Cabin Democrat’s first ever Best Of Faulkner County Gala on Thursday at the Brick Room and Events Center in Conway.

Business leaders from all varying walks of life came together to celebrate each other during the event.

LCD Publisher Kelly Sublett said the event was incredible and that the LCD staff was thrilled to celebrate those businesses that the community chose as the best of the best.

“It was a night of fun and laughter and a great way to honor businesses in more than 140 categories,” she said. “We thank all our local business[es] for contributing to our growing community.”

In addition to it being the LCD’s first Best Of event, it was also the first time the community was able to vote online — in years past, the newspaper distributed paper ballots in the print editions leading up to the final announcements.

“This year, the contest was designed on a third-party application in coordination with our company, GateHouse Media,” Sublett said. “The digital voting first took nominations from the community, and in a second round of voting, narrowed the categories to three finalists and an overall winner in each category.”

She said opening up the contest online brought an increase in participation — in total, 221,000 votes were cast.

During the event, Miss Arkansas Claudia Raffo emceed and called out the winners' names, including Person of the Year, Lori Melton, who said she was surprised and honored to be recognized.

Melton was up against two others and said she was honored to even reach the final nominations.

“It was a really cool opportunity,” she said.

Melton, who has won other awards in her career, said this one took her off guard.

She said she even had trouble getting out of her seat.

Come Friday, Melton said she was still thinking about the win, especially after having so many people, even ones she didn’t know, tell her how well-deserved the selection was.

“That makes me feel good to know some of the things I’ve done over my career have meant something,” she said.

Melton spoke highly of her overall experience attending Thursday's event, adding that along with having a great time, she got to see people she doesn’t usually see like friends that she’s worked with in the 33 years she’s been a banker.

One of the things that struck her the most was those same friends and former coworkers who were standing up rooting and yelling for her when her name was called, she said.

“That meant the world to me,” Melton said. “It made my night. It was the cherry on top.”

She said it was really unique to see everyone together and be in such a great mood to celebrate the success of the community.

Also selected was the University of Central Arkansas as the Best Place to Work.

"Conway is a fantastic place to live and work, so it is especially an honor to have UCA recognized that way in light of the many fabulous companies and organizations that call Faulkner County home," UCA President Houston Davis said. "Our faculty and staff take great pride in educating and supporting students and do indeed make UCA a great place to work."

Sublett said the LCD is already looking at next year and seeing the new tradition growing.

“We hope that the best of the best program will educate and encourage customers to keep coming back to your businesses or maybe even try you out for the first time,” she said. “The people in this room are the leaders of the Faulkner County business community and your creativity and potential will ensure this county’s continued growth and success.”

2018 Best Of Faulkner County Winners

Beauty and Heath

Allergist: Central Arkansas ENT Clinic.

Audiologist: Dr. Collie Shaw, Central Arkansas ENT Clinic.

Barber Shop: SportClips Haircuts.

Best Spa/Medical Spa: Solutions Day Spa.

Chiropractor: Bledsoe Chiropractor.

Cosmetic Procedure: Noydeen Beauty.

Dentist: Fulmer Family Dentistry.

Dermatologist: Dr. Shelly Russell, Russell Dermatology of Conway.

Drug Store: Smith Family Pharmacy.

General Practice Doctor: Tilley Family Medicine.

Hair Salon: The Beauty Bar.

Hair Stylist: Lauren Cook, The Beauty Bar.

Hospital: Conway Regional Health System.

Manicure: European Nails and Spa.

OB/GYN: Dr. Michael Wood, Renaissance Women’s Center.

Optometrist: DeBlack Eye Care Center.

Orthodontist: Dr. Barry Quick, Orthodontic Associates.

Pediatric Dentist: Gerald Friend, DDS Conway Pediatric Dental Group.

Pediatrician: Dr. Alan Lucas, Arkansas Pediatrics of Conway.

Physical Therapist: Kane Moix Incite Rehab.

Weight Loss Center: Conway Regional Health System.

Clothing

Children’s Clothing: Rhea Lana’s.

Consignment: Yours Truly Consignment, Inc.

Men’s Clothing: Bell & Sward Gentlemen’s Clothier.

Show Store: Wilkinson’s Mall.

Women’s Clothing: Angie Davis Lingerie Store.

Dining

Bakery: Julie’s Sweet Shoppe & Bakery.

BBQ: Whole Hog Cafe.

Breakfast: Stoby’s Restaurant.

Brunch: Stoby’s Restaurant.

Buffet: Holly’s Country Cooking.

Burger: David’s Burgers.

Business Lunch: Mike’s Place.

Caterer: Tacos 4 Life Grill.

Chicken Wings: Wingstop.

Chinese Restaurant: China Town Restaurant.

Dessert: Julia’s Sweet Shoppe & Bakery.

Diner: Stoby’s Restaurant.

Dining Experience: Mike’s Place.

Dinner Under $10: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop.

Doughnuts: Julie’s Sweet Shoppe & Bakery.

Food Truck: Southern Hibachi Express.

Fried Chicken: Holly’s Country Cooking.

Ice Cream: Andy’s Frozen Custard.

Italian Food: Pasta Grill.

Local Coffee Shop: Julie’s Sweet Shoppe & Bakery.

Mexican Food: Patron Mexican Grill.

Pizza: U.S. Pizza Co.

Ribs: Whole Hog Cafe.

Sandwich Shop: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop.

Seafood: Mike’s Place.

Steakhouse: Mike’s Place.

Sushi/Hibachi: Fuji Steak House.

Entertainment & Leisure

Art Gallery: Art on the Green.

Dance Studio: Sonshine Academy.

DJ: J R Runyon of Y107.

Family Amusement: Cinemark Towne Centre and XD.

Karaoke Bar: Kings Live Music.

Place to Have a Birthday Party: Urban Air Adventure Park.

Home, Home Services & Finance

Accountant: Lisa Stephens CPA, PLC.

Apartment Complex: Centerstone Apartment Homes.

Architect: Rick Sowell - Sowell Architects.

Assisted Living Facility: StoneBridge Senior Living.

Attorney: Beau Wilcox.

Bank: First Security Bank.

Electrical Company: Kordsmeier Electric.

Home Builder: Scott Lucas Construction & Custom Homes.

Home Contractor/Repair/Remodeling: Scott Lucas Construction & Custom Homes.

Home Security: ADT Home Security System.

Insurance Agent: State Farm - Jay Bernard Agency.

Investment Firm: Conway Wealth Management.

Law Firm: Lucas Law.

Lawn Care: GrassRoots LawnCare, Inc.

Mortgage Lender: Centennial Bank.

Moving Services: Cams Containers & Mobile Storage.

Nursing Home: Greenbrier Nursing & Rehab Center.

Real Estate Agent: Pam McDowell - ERA Team Real Estate.

Real Estate Company: ERA Team Real Estate.

Retirement Community: College Square Retirement Community.

Swimming Pool Contractor: Luxury Pool & Spa.

Kids Education

Dance School: Sonshine Academy.

Day Care: Grace Learning Center.

Karate School: ATA Martial Arts.

Music School: Palmer Music Company.

Pre-School: Grace Learning Center.

People & Places

Event Venue: The Brick Room Event Center.

Green Business & Organization: Arkansas Outdoor Concepts.

Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Conway.

Person of the Year: Lori Melton - First Service Bank.

Place to Work: University of Central Arkansas.

Place to Worship: First United Methodist Church.

Wedding Venue: Jamestown Ranch.

Services

Car Wash: Deco Detail.

Carpet Cleaning: The Carpet Center.

Cleaning Services: Moppin Mommas.

Customer Service: First Security Bank.

Divorce Attorney: Barger Law Firm.

Dry Cleaner: Classic Laundry & Dry Cleaners.

Employment Agency: Express Employment Professionals.

Funeral Home: Roller-McNutt Funeral Home.

Heating & A/C Service: Dewees HVAC Heating & Cooling.

Locksmith: A-1 Lock & Security.

Pest Control: Delta Pest Control.

Pet Groomer: Chestnut Animal Clinic.

Photographer: Strain Photography.

Plumber: Salter Plumbing.

Satellite or Cable: Conway Corporation.

Self-Storage Company: Safely Tucked Away Mini Storage.

Siding/Windows/Roofing: Arkansas Roofing Company.

Tattoo Parlor: Primal Urge Tattoos.

Veterinarian: Hartman Animal Hospital.

Shopping

Antique Store: Jenifer’s Antiques.

Floor Covering Store: The Carpet Center.

Florist: Ye Olde Daisy Shoppe, Inc.

Furniture: Cajun Brothers Furniture & Mattress.

Garden Center: The Plant Outlet.

Gift Store: The Kitchen Store & More.

Hardware Store: Haynes ACE Hardware.

Home Electronics Store: Zellner’s Appliance & TV.

Jewelry Store: Francis M. Fine Jewelry.

Lawn Equipment: Tractor Supply Co.

Mattress Store: Cajun Brothers Furniture & Mattress.

Pawn Shop: Braswell & Son Pawnbrokers.

Spirits

Happy Hour: JJ’s Grill.

Sports

Fitness Center/Gym: Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center.

Golf Course: Centennial Valley Golf & Country Club.

Personal Trainer: Tiffeny Crow - Hendrix College.

Yoga Studio: Burn Studio.

Top Employers

Best Boss: Johnny Adams - First Security Bank.

Best Employee Recognition Plan: Salem Bank Nursing & Rehabilitation, Inc.

Best Overall Leadership: Conway Regional Health System.

Vehicles Dealers & Services

Auto Body/Collision: Halter’s Body Shop.

Auto Dealer Service Department: Smith Ford.

Auto Glass Repair: Linn’s Auto Glass.

Auto Repair-Independent: Barkley’s Auto Service.

Boat/Marine Dealer: H2:4 Outdoors.

Car Salesperson: Courtney Mallett - Crain Certified Pre-Owned.

Motorcycle Dealer: Toad Suck Harley-Davidson.

New Car Dealer: Smith Ford.