Best of Utah 2018 | An ode to the people, places, products and services that make life the Beehive State exceptional. | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City

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ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • Enrique Limón

Best Fight-Or-Flight LGBTQ Ally

Terrance Mannery
Times when we wholeheartedly agree with a statement from Gov. Herbert are few and far between. But we completely endorse his labeling Terrance Mannery as a "local hero." Earlier this summer, Mannery—at the time an employee of a downtown dessert café—came to the defense of four gay men walking back from the Utah Pride Festival, who were being chased by a slur-slinging mob. "Thank you ... for supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community when they were in peril, and for making Utah a better place for everyone," the governor tweeted. The dusted settled, Mannery is still surprised by the national headlines caused by the incident. "I was taken aback by it, because I wasn't expecting that much coverage from it," the technology management student at Neumont College tells City Weekly. "At the end of the night, I kind of was all, like, 'Well, I'm going to go to work tomorrow, and everything's going to be just normal. And then everyone was talking about it." Asked whether he'd do it again, he answers an unflinchingly, "Yeah, definitely." (Enrique Limón)

RAY HOWZE
  • Ray Howze

Best Transparency Crusaders

Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge
Both formerly devout congregants in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge are spending their adult lives fighting to make the church more transparent, an effort high-ranking Mormons have resisted throughout the faith's history. McKnight and Dodge founded the Truth and Transparency Foundation and FaithLeaks after McKnight's MormonLeaks, broadening their transparency crusade to include more faiths than just the LDS Church. By carefully vetting documents and selectively publishing leaks that align with their mission, the pair are doing their best to keep religious institutions and their leaders honest—one leak at a time. (KL)

FRENCHIEINPORTLAND
  • Frenchieinportland

Best Utah Poster Child

Donovan Mitchell
Frankly, poster "child" doesn't do the Utah Jazz's Mitchell justice. Sure, he was just a rookie last season, but he made others look on in awe as he made jaw-dropping play after play and announced to the world he deserved a seat at the adults' table. Mitchell helped bring national relevance to the team and put the new-era Jazz on the map. He shows his love for Utah and the team all the time with an infectious grin. It's impossible not to like the guy. He might not have won Best Utahn, but he sure has captured the hearts of many in the state and elsewhere. Here's to continued success and wins! (RH)

MAKELE WHITE
  • Makele White

Best Inclusive Feminist Ceramicist

Makele White
"I think ceramics teaches you patience, and tells you it's OK to mess up. No matter how many times you mess up, you can always make something again," says Makele White, owner of Little Volcano Ceramics. She hopes that her work—ceramic flower planters ($40), mugs ($30), cups in various sizes, shapes and colors, all depicting feminine torsos and breasts—empowers others to love their bodies in a world where we are often told we shouldn't. "You're worth it to take up space," White says. "Appreciate yourself." White initially began working with ceramics as a mental-health outlet, while fulfilling various roles in Planned Parenthood clinics and pursuing her bachelor's in gender studies at the University of Utah. "My whole life revolved around the female body, in one way or another," White says. Naturally, the female form made its way into her art. Splitting her time—throwing and firing—between her home and Art Haus, White intends to donate a portion of proceeds to breast-cancer research once Little Volcano gets some more traction. Oh, and the name Little Volcano? A friend once told White that her name, Makele, in Hawaiian, means "little volcano"—a happy translation. (ZS)
etsy.com/shop/lilvolcanoceramics

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • Enrique Limón

Best Business Owner Making CBD And Hemp More Appetizing for the Cannabis-Averse

Daniella Lucero
Marguerite Blakey is a 17-year veteran of soap-making, a craft she passed on to her daughter, Daniella Lucero. Gardner Village's M Soaps by Marguerite used to be a mom-and-child shop, but since M retired, Daniella is the sole owner. Although the matriarch is out of the game, Lucero's business continues to sell CBD-infused lotions, bath bombs and oils, making cannabis-based products more palatable to people whose early understandings of marijuana come from Reefer Madness. Picking up where her mom left off, Lucero is keeping up the family tradition of helping people relax by providing them with bath goods that don't get them stoned. (KL)

DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Comedians

Our readers
February 2018 was a simpler time (not really), but smack in the middle of the 63rd state Legislature and with ever-increasing buzz (bud?) that this was medical cannabis' year, we asked our readers to come up with names for Utah-centric marijuana strains. Your answers had us all in stitches (which we promptly treated with some high-octane opioids). Here are some of our faves:

Trax Wax.
Nick McConochie
Via Facebook

Reffer Society.
Cindy McBride Gibbs
Via Facebook

Funeral POTatoes
*cue drums*
Mitch Bragg
Via Facebook

Great Salt Bake.
@thischarmingmum
Via Instagram

High Sauce!
Ronette Nelson Knight
Via Facebook

Latter-day Strains (but that's more of a brand name. It would have to have sub strains to make any sense).
Simon Harwood
Via Facebook

Diet Coke Smoke.
Pix801
Via Instagram

Federal Highs.
William Boyd
Via Twitter

The other green casserole with crunchy stuff.
Rob Rodgers
Via Facebook

Seagull Diesel, Provo Gold, Kolob Kush.
Gililland Daymon
Via Facebook

Es-cush-lante.
@sweet_clarity
Via Instagram

The Real Housewives of Salt Lake Hash.
Megan Hansen
Via Facebook

Prophet's Private Stash, Temple Hemple, Holy Toke. High-n-Zion.
Alan Peterson
Via Facebook

Bee-high State, Porter Smokewell, Modab.
@badonkeyrocks
Via Instagram

Seer Stoned.
Jon Allen
Via Twitter

Ta-BURN-acle.
Ashley Jones
Via Facebook

Joseph Spliff, Temple Recommend, Bonneville Blunt.
Dustin Dabb
Via Facebook

City-Creek Creeker.
David Butler
Via Facebook

Zion Curtain 3.2.
Kelly O'Hara
Via Facebook

Capitol Reefer, Foot Lucid, Latter-day Dank, Jon Bluntsman Jr., Greatest Grow on Earth, Multi-level Marijuana, Doobie a Favor and Use Your Turn Signal.
Julie Radle
Via Facebook

Inversion Therapy.
Regie Thompson
Via Facebook

Never-gonna-happen
High.
Kerry Knowles
Via Facebook

Smog.
Sarahjane Aleta
Morrison
Via Facebook

"God's Will."
Clinton Reid
Via Facebook

Elder Dankerson.
Rob Rodgers
Via Facebook

As long as it's legal ... who cares?
Scott Meade
Via Facebook

SARAH ARNOFF
  • Sarah Arnoff

Best Sign The Future—and the Present—Are Alright

March for Our Lives Salt Lake City
A month after 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Fla., 8,000 students, teachers and parents marched on the Utah Capitol to demand lawmakers pass bills that would decrease instances of gun violence in the Beehive State. Organized by March for Our Lives Salt Lake City, a student-led local chapter of the national movement started by survivors of the Florida shooting, the Utah youth have since held several town halls and public forums, urging citizens to elect lawmakers who will represent their interests, not the National Rifle Association's. In the words of one state legislator quoted in an August City Weekly cover story, "It always amazes me when adults say, 'This is our future.' They're our present." (KL)

SARAH ARNOFF
  • Sarah Arnoff

Best Artivist

Saida Dahir
She describes Somalia, her home country, as "the land of the poets." A 17-year-old student at the Academy for Math, Engineering and Science in Salt Lake City, Dahir is frequently seen at rallies that underscore the need for gun reform and praise immigrants for their economical, societal and historical contributions to the U.S. and Utah alike. Not content to merely chant or give a speech at these gatherings, Dahir combines her love of activism and art—"artivism," as she describes it—by performing spoken-word poetry. Her blistering polemics suggest a wisdom beyond her years, complementing her peers' fiery passion and adding an artistic flair to protests across the metropolis. (KL)

Best Proponent of Utah Love
Dan Reynolds
In 2018, the Imagine Dragons frontman expanded his LoveLoud Festival, which celebrates Utah's LGBTQ youth and raises awareness about the staggering suicide problem they face. With a new venue (University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium), an attendance that more than doubled (from 17,000 to 42,000 fans) and a fundraising haul 10 times higher than in 2017 ($1,000,000 vs. $100,000), Reynolds made a huge impact on his adopted state. But the money was secondary to LoveLoud's main goal: spreading an inclusive brand of Utah love that treats everyone—gay, straight, religious and not—equal. "Growing up Mormon, you're quick to close your door if you feel like someone's attacking you," Reynolds told City Weekly in June. "If we're going to have this dialogue, it needs to come from within." (NM)

Best Hollywood First Amendment Proponent
Jane Fonda
A headline-grabbing fixture since her 1960 big-screen debut in Tall Story, two-time Oscar-winner Jane Fonda has gone through several reinventions (Spandex-clad workout, anyone?) giving ample material for a documentary based on her life, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, which premiered during the Sundance Film Festival. Apropos of Park City's Respect Rally—a gathering that commemorated one year since national Women's March—the actress took the stage and asked for attendees to support the Freedom of the Press during a passionate speech. "Let's find a way to protect and expand public media, both national and community-based," she told the crowd. We couldn't agree more. (EL)

Best Conservation Warriors
Utah Recycling Alliance
Between Fix-It Clinics, Sustainability Summits and Pop-up CHaRMs (collections of hard-to-recycle materials), the Utah Recycling Alliance is doing its part to keep Utah as green, and habitable, as possible. By encouraging a zero-waste lifestyle, these tree-hugging, earth-loving recyclers are helping people reuse their old and busted keepsakes by giving them the skills they need to make future repairs at home. Embrace your inner "Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor" and learn how to fix broken blenders and messed up bicycle chains at a Fix-It Clinic, or recycle your old tires or DVDs at a Pop-up CHaRM; whatever URA program you do, you'll be giving the earth, and Utah's environment, a much-needed hug (KL)
utahrecyclingalliance.org

Best Nature-Loving Ladies
Women Who Hike
Mom always cautioned you to never talk to strangers on the street. But talking to them on the internet and hiking into the wilderness with them is totally fine. I mean, we can't all be axe murderers, right? That's just statistics. Women Who Hike was started as a way to connect women who just want to hang out in nature with each other, and has exploded to chapters all across the U.S. The Utah Facebook group has more than 1,300 members, and state ambassadors familiar with off-the-beaten-path trails lead hikes several times per year. You don't have to be a dedicated backpacker to join—women just getting into the hobby are welcome to post questions and seek beginner hiking buddies. Hiking solo is no excuse to stay off the trail. (SA)
womenwhohike.com

Best Failled Australian Import
Great Salt Lake Whales
Now for some history. Mr. James Wickham, upon first stepping foot onto the Great Salt Lake's banks must have surely—eyes squinting, scanning the watery horizon—said, "Call me Wickham." He, like Melville, had a whale to sale. The story goes, at least according to a June 24, 1890, article in the now-defunct Utah Enquirer, that in 1865 a "scientific English gentleman," Mr. Wickham, got it in his head to launch the Utah whaling industry within the Great Salt Lake's confines. He and a few like-minded men went a whale huntin' off the shores of Australia, plucked two whales from the depths, and brought them to Utah courtesy of a freightliner from Australia to San Francisco, and a train from San Fran to these parts. In a scene straight out of Whaling for Dummies, Wickham made a chicken-wire enclosure for his new pets and casually plopped them in. After about five minutes, the whales saw their chance, burst through the wire, and swam out into the depths. Needless to say, Wickham's Whaling Co. never quite took off, but if you sit along your favorite bank near dusk—eyes squinting, scanning the horizon—you might see a little geyser spout up from a whale descendant, proudly claiming the Great Salt Lake for itself. (ZS)
utah.com/great-salt-lake-state-park/facts

CALLISTA PEARSON
  • Callista Pearson

Best Pet Detectives

Salt Lake County Animal Services
Scenario: Your dog manages to wiggle out of his collar and escape your yard when you're not home. Someone finds him and calls animal control. The animal-control officer is unable to retrieve your information because your dog's chip has come out (yes, it's a thing that can happen!). So, it's kennel prison for your pup, right? Not when Salt Lake County Animal Services' sleuths are on duty! Taking the time to knock on doors and peek over fences, putting the empty house, empty doghouse and open gate pieces together, these officers will find a way to contact you, reunite you with your doggo and save the day. (SA)
511 W. 3900 South, slco.org/animal-services

ENRIQUE LIMÓN
  • Enrique Limón

Best Playful-Yet-Serious Podcasters

Trent Morrison and Chris Glaittli
Masc4Masc started as a passion project for two friends seeking the artistic nourishment that had been missing from their day jobs. After almost a year, co-hosts Trent Morrison and Chris Glaittli have taken their queer-themed podcast to the next level, interviewing local fixtures of LGBTQ communities and interspersing joyous, often hilarious conversations with serious topics and concerns. But you don't have to be a "queerio"—to borrow a word used frequently on their site—to enjoy the show. Some episodes are addressed to straight listeners, humanizing queer issues for the few Utah County listeners who might have never met a real-life gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person. (KL)

STEVE CONLIN
  • Steve Conlin

Best Pre-Pride Moment

E. Cooper Jr.
Inclusivity and representation was in the air this past summer during the ninth annual Miss City Weekly pageant. All nine contestants across the gender spectrum shone in an elegant display of creativity, self-love and unabashed visibility. But it was one in particular, E. Cooper Jr., who brought the house down during the evening's talent portion. Singing a live version of power anthem "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman, Cooper's spirit, vulnerability and defiance made the venue tremble and the children gag. In a move that upset no one, he also ended up taking home the crown. All hail the queen. (EL)

Best LGBTQ Advocate From an Institution You Wouldn't Expect
Richard Ostler
A faithful Latter-day Saint and former bishop, Richard Ostler encourages fellow devout Mormons to embrace LGBTQ people, groups the LDS church has historically stigmatized and demonized. Ostler hosts a podcast called Listen, Learn & Love and posts respectably trafficked Facebook statuses advocating for Mormons to respect and engage with LGBTQ people. Al though not affiliated with the church in any official capacity, Ostler's advocacy is an encouraging step forward, as it represents a radical set of actions that are all too rare in 2018—ditch your preconceived notions, seek out and talk with people whose experiences are vastly different from your own and, most importantly, listen. (KL)

BO YORK
  • Bo York

Most Enigmatic Socks-and-Sandals-Wearing DJ

Bo York
No matter where you see him—winning a City Weekly Battle of the DJs contest, gliding effortlessly between crowds at the afterparty or riding his BMX cruiser around town—there's something about Bo York that defies easy categorization. With style for miles, the dude easily slipstreams between fashion sensibilities while seamlessly blending up genres behind the ones and the twos. Trying to understand this enigma wrapped in a mystery (or, more commonly, a towel or a hoodie) is as impossible as capturing lightning in a bottle. But once he starts spinning, it all makes sense: York hits a primal musical nerve that most of us didn't know existed. As local icon Jesse Walker recently said while watching Bo work his magic, "That guy's the coolest person I know." (NM)

Best Local Duped by Sacha Baron Cohen
Janalee Tobias
British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen tricked conservatives and progressives into acting out embarrassing situations while filming his Showtime series Who Is America? Among the group was Utah gun rights activist and Women Against Gun Control founder Janalee Tobias, who fell for Cohen's prank after he told her his son had been killed by a terrorist and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted toddlers to be trained with firearms so they could join the war against terrorism. While singing about killing militants with guns hidden in stuffed animals, Tobias was goaded to endorse using a "Dino gun," "Puppy pistol" and "Uzicorn" to fight the good fight. (KL)

Best Boneheaded Group Standing up for Their Second Amendment Rights
Utah Gun Exchange
Shortly before the survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School came to Utah in July, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bryan Melchior, one of the owners of the Utah Gun Exchange, had been following the students around the country in a militaristic armored vehicle. As the school shooting survivors advocated for gun regulations, Melchior held counter-rallies, protecting his civil rights by stalking teenagers. "The hostile environment created toward gun advocates in the Northeast is not unlike the hostile environments a black man would have experienced in the South hundreds of years ago," he told the Trib. Alrighty then. (KL)

Best New Social Media Follow
@utahsidebar
Utah's liquor stores can't advertise what's on sale. That doesn't stop Park City resident Kirsten Park, though, who runs the @utahsidebar account on Facebook and Instagram. Park takes away the pain of navigating the state's inventory online by doing it for you, posting the latest wine or liquor listed at a discount. She also includes a story about each item she posts, such as a $17.99 bottle of Hell-Cat Maggie Whiskey named after a Dead Rabbits gang member in Manhattan in the 1800s. So, not only do you learn about the best deals in Utah, you also read the history and inspiration behind the product—something you won't get from the state. (RH)

Best Political Brawl
Mia Love and Ben McAdams
Arguably the most interesting election in the Utah 2018 midterms, the Mia Love/Ben McAdams race had it all—allegations of both candidates using illegal campaign donations, political operatives masquerading as reporters to spy on the opposition and, of course, the specter of President Donald Trump, who won Love's district in 2016 with a mere 40 percent of votes. Final numbers haven't been tallied at press time, so we'll go ahead and issue two predictions: If McAdams wins, the Democrats gain another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, adding to a potential blue wave that would give the minority party a much-needed boost of political power. If Love wins, her Republican star continues to rise for two more years until she does the same dance in 2020, when both she and Trump would be up for reelection. (KL)

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION DEREK CARLISLE
  • Photo Illustration Derek Carlisle

Best Impression of the Monster From It Follows

Mitt Romney
Much like the supernatural beast from David Robert Mitchell's 2014 film, Mitt Romney started slowly but surely slinking his way to political gatherings across the Beehive State since getting overlooked for a cabinet position in the Trump administration. Chances are if you found yourself at an event even loosely related to politics, Romney's ageless mug was there, giving a carefully worded speech that both praised and expressed concern for Trump's policies. Chasing Sen. Orrin Hatch's seat, the Utah transplant was seemingly everywhere leading up to the November midterms, where he faced off against Democratic opponent Jenny Wilson. (KL)


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