Several times last spring, I was approached by friends and strangers wanting to know if “it was too late to vote.” Being the dullard that I am, I would then dutifully launch into a recitation of all the various deadlines for June’s primary election, along with unsolicited explanations of super-hot things like legislative districts and term limits (it’s actually amazing anyone ever talks to me).

Of course, folks weren’t asking about governmental politics. They were asking about SFR’s annual Best of Santa Fe Readers’ Poll. Anecdotal evidence of their interest was born at this year’s “polls.” We had some of the highest participation levels of the past decade, and a couple of notable incumbents lost their top spots.

Finding out the winners is always interesting, but talking to them is even more so. Across the board, we heard a lot of appreciation, particularly from the city’s local business owners, many of whom acknowledged the economic challenges they faced over the last year. Despite feeling the squeeze, they kept on keeping on, and their efforts were rewarded by the support of the thousands of Santa Feans who took time to vote.

But what is recognition without a toast and a hearty handshake (or even a hug, if things get really crazy)? We invite all of our readers to celebrate the city’s best tonight, Wednesday, July 28, at

. From 6-9 pm, it’s a winners-only party, and after that, everyone is invited to come hear SFR readers’ choices for best rock band and best DJs as they perform at the best bar for live music and dancing.

Oh—and in case you were wondering, early voting for the Nov. 2 general election begins Oct. 16. Just sayin’.

—Julia GoldbergHere are links to all the 2010 winners in various Best of Santa Fe categories:ARTS & CULTUREFOOD  & DININGSHOPPINGSERVICESLOCAL LIVINGSTAFF PICKSAnd the link to the digital version of the print copy, for those who prefer to turn a virtual page, is HERE.