2014 Best of Butler County winners announced

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Winners of the first annual 'Best of Butler County' contest have been announced.

The competition, organized by WCPO's news partners at the Journal-News, has 20 categories — from Best Place to Find a Thrill to Best Burger.

Below are the results.

(To see the runner up in each category and how each winner was selected, visit Journal-News.com )

BEST FESTIVAL/EVENT

Winner: Butler County Fair

1715 Fairgrove Ave., Hamilton

513-892-1423; www.butlercountyohfair.org

Nothing says summer like the arrival of county fairs all across Ohio’s 88 counties, and Butler County is no different. Excitement grows as families and 4-H members gather at the Butler County Fair at the Butler County Fairgrounds. The Butler County Fair is the county’s biggest festival and attracts nearly 100,000 guests each year, including some 1,400 Junior Fair members. The fair boasts rides, games, livestock exhibits, and everyone’s favorite … fair food.

2014 event: July 20-26

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BEST PLACE FOR UNIQUE SHOPPING

Winner: Jungle Jim’s International Market

440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield

513-674-6000; www.junglejims.com

Jungle Jim’s International Market is a food lover’s paradise. With six acres of food all under one roof, Jungle Jim’s features an international selection of more than 150,000 items from 75 countries. After you’ve stocked up on ingredients, learn what to do with it at the The Jungle Jim’s Cooking School.

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BEST PLACE TO SHOP

Winner: Bridgewater Falls Lifestyle Shopping Center

3385 Princeton Road, Fairfield

513-895-6800; www.shopbridgewaterfalls.com

Bridgewater Falls Lifestyle Shopping Center has more than 45 stores, restaurants and services. In addition to great shopping and dining, Bridgewater Falls operates a farmers market and classic car cruise-in weekly during the summer. In addition to other outdoor concerts and events, residents enjoy the shopping center’s Walkers Club.

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BEST PLACE FOR COFFEE

Winner: True West Coffee

313 Main St., Hamilton (513-668-1488)

221 High St., Hamilton (513-668-5815)

www.truewestcoffee.com

True West Coffee has two location in Hamilton to serve you awesome coffee and great food. Even better, owners Chris and Vanessa Cannon do so while serving the community. Come by for live music on the weekends or for a mocha latte with a buddy in the morning.

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BEST PIZZA

Winner: Chester’s Pizzeria

2929 Dixie Highway, Hamilton

513-892-1973; www.chesterspizza.com

Chester Dadabo converted one of his grocery stores into a pizzeria in 1954, and the family never looked back. The current location is run by Dadabo’s four children — two sons and two daughters — and uses the Dadabos’ secret dough and sauce recipes to create the much-loved Hamilton pizza.

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BEST BURGER

Winner: Mad Mike’s Burgers

194 N. Brookwood Ave., Hamilton

513-844-6453; www.madmikesburgers.com

Mad Mike’s focuses on burgers and fries made from fresh ingredients, with everything handmade on site. Check out their gourmet burgers, including American Outlaw, the Rockefeller and the Pride of Zeus.

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BEST FARMERS MARKET

Winner: Hamilton Historic Farmers Market

315 High St., Hamilton (around the Historic Butler County Courthouse)

513-785-7000; www.hamilton-city.org

You can shop for more than fresh, local produce in downtown Hamilton during the Farmer’s Market every Saturday through the end of October. Children’s activities and live entertainment also are featured at the market on a regular basis.

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BEST PLACE TO ENJOY THE ARTS

Winner: Fitton Center for Creative Arts

101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton

513-863-8873; www.fittoncenter.org

Known as a “mecca for the arts,” the Fitton Center for Creative Arts offers activities for art lovers of all ages. The center features changing exhibitions in its galleries, luncheon lectures, a performing art series and much more.

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BEST PLACE FOR A SWEET TREAT

Winner: Flub’s Dair-ette

997 Eaton Ave., Hamilton

513-896-6696

539 Wessel Drive, Fairfield

513-939-3582

www.flubsicecream.com

Craving a cold treat? Stop over at Flub’s Ice Cream, home of the Dari-ette that has been serving Butler County for more than 40 years. With more than 30 variations of their famous Cyclones, you can have a new favorite every day of the month.

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BEST FAMILY RESTAURANT

Winner: Hyde’s Restaurant

130 S. Erie Highway, Hamilton

513-892-1287; www.hydesrestaurant.com

Hyde’s prides itself on delicious meals where servers know your name, your story, and your favorite pie. This family run business is built on family traditions and is one of the oldest eateries Hamilton. Hyde’s believes in “real food” — not off the back of a truck or out of a box.

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BEST FINE DINING

Winner: Jag’s Steak and Seafood

5980 West Chester Road, West Chester Twp.

513-860-5353; www.jags.com

Jag’s offers six distinct and richly appointed dining rooms steeped in mahogany and fine art that set the scene. Executive Chef Michelle Brown’s eclectic menu offers an extensive list of sushi and sashimi, Yellowfin Tuna, Chilean Sea Bass and Alaskan King Crab, just a few of the many selections delivered fresh every day.

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BEST HAPPY HOUR

Winner: El Mariachi

787

NW Washington Blvd., Hamilton

513-892-6300;

El Mariachi boasts some serious salsa and tempting margaritas. Just to spice things up a bit more, a mariachi band performs in the restaurant on certain nights.

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BEST LATE NIGHT SPOT

Winner: Rick’s Tavern & Grille

5955 Boymel Drive, Fairfield

513-874-1992; www.rickstavern.com

Rick’s Tavern is a neighborhood establishment featuring a sports bar, restaurant, and night club all in one. Its sports bar area boasts more than 70 televisions; while the nightclub atmosphere can be enjoyed every night of the week. Entertainment includes local bands and a DJ. And don’t miss weekly Trivia/Feud every Wednesday and Friday.

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BEST LUNCH SPOT

Winner: Jolly’s Drive-In

210 N. Erie Highway, Hamilton

513-894-7541

If you go to Jolly’s Drive-In, you gotta have the root beer. Paired with a cheeseburger or chili burger, it’s amazingly good. Jolly’s has been around for 70 years, still keeping up the old-fashioned drive-in spirit alive. You can order your hot dogs, burgers, popcorn and root beer from the car and have it delivered with a smile to your window. Or come inside, where there’s a booth for dining in. Believe us, the root beer is so good, you’ll want to take more home with you, which is why the creamy goodness is available in cups, quarts, half-gallons and gallons to-go.

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BEST DATE NIGHT SPOT

Winner: Hanover Winery

2121 Morman Road, Hanover Twp.

513-863-3119; www.hanoverwinery.com

Featuring a variety of wines, from dry to sweet dessert wines, you’re sure to enjoy one of the many flavors Hanover Winery has to offer. Located on beautiful grounds, Hanover Winery also has a Tasting Room where visitors have a chance to sample and find their perfect wine.

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BEST LOCALLY OWNED RESTAURANT

Winner: Walt’s Barbeque

746 NW Washington Blvd., Hamilton

513-868-9258; www.waltsbarbeque.com

What started in 1996 as a Father’s Day present of a Brinkman smoker has become an award-winning, mouth-watering barbeque restaurant. Walt’s boasts Ribs rubbed and slowly smoked for up to six hours; beef brisket seasoned and cooked for up to 14 hours; and pork smoked for up to 14 hours and hand-pulled. Don’t forget to add the “To Die For” Sweet Potato Casserole to your order.

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BEST OUTDOOR SPOT

Winner: Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park

1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road (State Route 128), Hamilton

513-868-8336; www.pyramidhill.org

One of just 10 sculpture parks in the United States and the only sculpture park of its size in Ohio, Pyramid Hill is a 265-acre park and outdoor museum showcasing beautiful works of art. Displaying more than 50 pieces of monumental art, Pyramid Hill’s scenic setting provides a peaceful getaway for every visitor. The park also features hiking trails, an arboretum, indoor pavilion, wall garden, lakes, picnic areas, amphitheater, and activities for both adults and children.

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BEST PLACE TO GET A THRILL

Winner: Paintball Country at Niederman Family Farm

5110 Lesourdsville West Chester Road, Liberty Twp.

513-779-3228; www.paintballcountryohio.com

The region’s largest outdoor paintball arena features woods, a lighted field and plenty of obstacles for a challenging, fun game. Perfect for large groups, Paintball Country also has open play on weekends.

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Best Place to Enjoy Nature

Winner: Hueston Woods State Park

6301 Park Office Road, College Corner

513-523-6347; www.parks.ohiodnr.gov/huestonwoods

Your days can be spent picnicking in the park, boating and fishing on Action Lake, playing golf, cross-country skiing, or simply relaxing in the lodge. The park features a year-round educational program at the nature center, nature hikes, bird and flower walks, slide talks, movies, fossil hunts, and more.

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BEST PLACE FOR RAINY DAY FUN

Winner: Great Miami Valley YMCA

East Butler County YMCA, 6645 Morris Road, Hamilton; 513-892-9622

Fairfield Family YMCA, 5220 Bibury Road, Fairfield; 513-829-3091

Fitton Family YMCA, 1307 NW Washington Blvd., Hamilton; 513-868-9622

Hamilton Central YMCA, 105 N. Second St., Hamilton; 513-887-0001

Middletown Area YMCA, 1020 Manchester Ave., Middletown; 513-422-9622

www.gmvymca.org

With five Butler County locations, the Great Miami Valley YMCA offers programs and special events that cover a range of ages and abilities. Continually updating and renovating, today’s YMCAs are high-tech places that serve a variety of interests. Great Miami Valley YMCA also operates a Warren County location in Franklin (Atrium Family YMCA) at 5750 Innovation Drive.

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