Prologue: It's that time again!

February may be for lovebirds, but it’s also the perfect time to kick off our annual Best of the Pine Belt Award competition and show some love to all of our favorite people, places, and things.

Now in the contest’s 11th year, Signature Magazine has proudly partnered with FestivalSouth since the very beginning and this year’s contest is back bigger and better than ever with several noteworthy improvements to the wildly popular annual contest.

This year, the BOPB season officially kicks off on Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14 with a new, abbreviated 10-day nomination period.

From Feb. 14-23, you can visit to nominate your favorites. Just click on “Best of the Pine Belt” and follow the instructions. As always, the top five vote getters in each category will advance to the final round of voting, which begins Feb. 29.

Be sure to tune into WUSM 88.5 (or find us on Facebook) on Thursday, Feb. 27 for our annual “Live Reveal Show’ when Jamie Massengale and I will announce this year’s finalists, Last year’s event garnered more than 25,000 views and was shared hundreds of times across social media.

When it comes to the actual voting, we took heart to some of the feedback we have received over the years and have impleted several changes this year – including an effort to greatly decrease the number of actual voting days for each category. When it’s all said and done, each category will only have about 30 actual voting days.

This is a Leap Year and to celebrate, finalist voting officially begins at 12:01 a.m. on “Leap Day,” Saturday, Feb. 29 and for two days only, all votes will count double. A complete schedule is included at right.

This year’s star-studded Best of the Pine Belt Award Show will be held on Saturday, May 30 so mark your calendar and plan on joining us once again for one of the Pine Belt’s biggest nights of the year as we celebrate this year’s winners.

Until then, happy voting, y’all.

- David Gustafson, editor and publisher


  • Nomination Period: Feb. 14–23.
  • Finalist Reveal live on WUSM 88.5 and streamed on Facebook: 6 pm Thursday, Feb. 27.
  • Voting begins for ALL categories**: Feb. 29–March 1.
  • Voting begins for MUSIC: March 2–15.
  • Voting begins for PERSONALITIES: March 16–29.
  • Voting begins for BUSINESS: March 30–April 19.
  • Voting begins for FOOD: April 20–May 3.
  • Voting resumes for ALL categories**: May 4–17.
  • Voting for SHOW CATEGORIES ONLY: May 18–22.
  • Best of the Pine Belt Awards, 7:30pm Saturday, May 30.

** all votes count double