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Creative Loafing readers and editors have been selecting The Best of the Bay since 1990. But it was only recently that we started bringing the winners together in one place and handing out plaques to them in person. These get-togethers were friendly affairs (Yuengling Brewery one year, American Stage the next) but not exactly gala (or public) events.

So in 2007 we got to thinking: Even on a small scale, the BOTB awards presentations had attracted a cross-section of the community — restaurateurs, artists, shopkeepers, you name it. What would happen if we spread the net even wider? Invited readers as well as the folks they voted for? Added music by some of the winning musicians? And even included an element of suspense? What if — shades of Judy and Mickey — we put on a show?

So that's what we did. On Sept. 24 at the Tampa Theatre, we laid down the red carpet, donned tuxes and gowns (or ironic versions thereof) and handed out the BOTB awards with more pomp and circumstance (or ironic versions thereof) than ever before.

In keeping with awards-show tradition, the awards had to have a nickname. The Academy Awards = The Oscars; the whatever-whatevers of Television Arts & Sciences = The Emmys. After seeing the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, we briefly considered calling our awards the Britneys — kind of a reverse good-luck charm. But ultimately, nothing seemed quite so right as ... The Loafies. (Please note that we've included photos illustrating various creative uses for our eponymous carbohydrate. Who knew Cuban bread was so handy?)

You can read what went down at the first Loafies awards show by clicking on the Readers' Poll link at left (where you'll also find a list of the Readers' Poll winners, which were announced for the first time during the show). The recipients of our critics' and staff awards can be found via the links at left, too.

Altogether, they represent a microcosm of Tampa Bay, a tribute to our extraordinarily diverse community: the Best (and okay, some of the Worst) of the Bay.

– David Warner

Watch the Show!

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