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  10 December 2017  |  Vol: 4 facebooktwitterrss  
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Bozeman's Best
Bozeman's Best 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010  
The Magpie Awards: Bozeman's Best

Best Bargain Bite  | Best Chocolate Dessert | Best Wine List  | Best Mexican Restaurant  | Best Burger  | Best Steak  | Best Sushi  | Best Coffee Shop | Best Quick Lunch

Best Dive Bar  | Best Bar for Live Music  | Best Place for a First Date  | Best Happy Hour  | Best Bar for Hooking Up  | Best Rainy Day Activity  | Best Sporting Event  | Best Art Gallery  | Best Freakish Local Tradition  | Best Atrocious Women’s Restroom

Best Alternative Bike Store  | Best Ski Shop  | Best Snowboard Shop  | Best Bookstore  | Best Recycled Clothing Store  | Best Jeweler  | Best Place for Buying Cheap Beer  | Best Wine Selection  | Best Outdoor Gear Shop  | Best Tattoo Artist  | Best Family Doctor  | Best Dentist  | Best Hot Springs  | Best Ugly New Building  | Best New Sign to Get 86’d by the City

Best Athlete  | Best Local Personality for a City Park Dedication  | Best Artist  | Best Author  | Best Band 

Best Two-Faced Political Grandstanding | Best Bozeman Police Log Entry  | Best Ridiculous Waste of Chronicle Ink  | Best Unofficial Medicinal Marijuana Dispensary Name

bozemans best award Best Bargain Bite
HomePage Happy Hour
HomePage Happy HourSo maybe you associate early evening dining with bluehairs fighting denture and cane to precede an early-bird-special buffet line. But this isn’t Florida, and the HomePage is no Golden Corral. With half off every item between 5 pm and 6 pm, happy hour at the HomePage offers hot paninis, gourmet salads, coffee, tea, and desserts for a pittance. My pick: The Internet - roasted turkey, homemade sun-dried tomato pesto, and gruyere served on herbed focaccia with salad or chips. At under $5, this delectable nibble tantalizes the tongue and is gentle on the wallet. AARP membership not required.
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bozemans best award Best Chocolate Dessert
The Sweet Pea Bakery’s Opera Cake
The Sweat Pea BakeryYour girlfriend’s birthday is coming up. You told your mom she might be The One, and you want to get her big day right. Well, the Opera Cake is definitely The One. With “layers of vanilla genoise, rich chocolate cake and chocolate mousse, all topped with mocha buttercream and coated with bittersweet chocolate ganache, then speckled with real edible silver leaf,” if the girl doesn’t fawn over this cake, it might be time to take up fly-fishing.
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bozemans best award Best Wine List
PlonkOwner Michael Ochsner takes his dedication to sharing good wine with Bozeman so seriously that he footed the bill for his key managers to attend sommelier school last summer. That professional education means each wine on Plonk’s list is there for a reason, and a very good one—it’s a great wine, picked by someone who knows.
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bozemans best award Best Mexican Restaurant
La Tinga
La TingaAlba and Curt Jeffries speak both English and Spanish behind the counter at La Tinga, their small restaurant in downtown Bozeman serving up fresh Mexican cuisine to hungry diners. Alba’s famous Tinga—shredded pork marinated in a spicy sauce—is how the place got its start, but the exceptional menu and daily specials are what make the joint 'standing room only' during lunch hour.
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bozemans best award Best Burger
Ted’s Montana Grill
Ted's Montana GrillThere’s seventeen burgers on the menu to choose from – seventeen. It’s democracy unparalleled: you can order yours any which way from “naked” to “kitchen sink,” you get the choice of bison or beef, and – a good omen to any burger fanatic – the servers ask how you want it cooked. As for me, I go for a medium rare “C.O.B” - that’s cheddar, onions and bacon - like a mosquito to a lamp, every time. I usually opt for bison; it’s plenty juicy and just healthy enough for me to eat a big burger and a copious amount of salty fries without the obligatory guilt trip.
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bozemans best award Best Steak
The New York Strip at the Rib & Chop House
Attributed to Mark Twain, an old cliche for the West goes, “Whiskey is for drinking; and water is for fighting over.” Whether or not Mr. Twain coined the phrase is immaterial, since the real squabbling around here is over the veritable Best Steak award. This year, the nod goes to the New York Strip at Livingston’s Rib and Chop House. It’s not too lean, not too mean, but this 14-ounces of Certified Angus beef always shows up rip-snorting hot on the plate. And the flavor? Good gracious.
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bozemans best award Best Sushi
Dave’s Sushi
Dave's SushiGroovy beats and chill sushi rolls flow from behind the bar at this fish spot that packs the customers in like sardines. The wait for a table on weekend nights sometimes tops an hour, but the staff makes it bearable by serving sake and Sapporos to those queued up until tables clear. Opt for the “Omakase” or “chef’s choice” for a custom sushi experience.
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bozemans best award Best Coffee Shop
Rockford Coffee
Rockford CoffeeThe Timex of Bozeman’s esteemed coffee houses, Rockford takes a licking and keeps on dripping. On July 14th, 2009, a Cut Bank woman was arrested in the wee hours of the morning for intentionally crashing an F-150 through the front wall of Rockford’s location on West Main Street. Gritty folk, the owners of the shop saw it as a remodeling opportunity and even came up with a new sticker and tagline for the resurgent business, one resembling the truck’s grill emblem with the tagline: “Crash Proof Coffee.”
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bozemans best award Best Quick Lunch
Mary’s Snak Shak
Mary's Snak ShakListen up, ya mooks. Dis bracket got some heavyweight competition, so how did dis broad Mary and her Snak Shak take da belt? First, dere’s da overt attention to detail in her hot dogs: she serves ‘em up Chicago style, meaning real-deal Vienna beef franks, poppy seed buns, special order Marconi sport peppers, and all da fixins. Even dis guy, a South Side original, was impressed, and dat ain’t easy. T’row in Italian beef sandwiches – also Windy City aut’entic – and Italian shaved ice for desserts. You got yaself a contender, Mack. And here comes da knockout – da food is cheap and right across 20th Avenue, Kirk Hill Park makes a cozy picnic spot for la Famiglia.
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bozemans best award Best Dive Bar
The Eagle
Rockford CoffeeThe neon sign broadcasts in red-white-and-blue, and it’s twice as big as any one of the Harley’s lined up out front. Inside, the florescent lighting is sterile enough for surgery and the faux-wood paneling was dated during the first Bush Administration. With no windows - and I mean none - you couldn’t find daylight in the joint if the sun was parked on Mount Baldy. But we all keep going back for the $1.50 beers and the big dance floor. One piece of advice to newcomers: don’t go betting the paycheck on the pool tables. Even the ladies can whip your scrawny tail.
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bozemans best award Best Bar for Live Music
Filling Station
Rockford Coffee The stage at the back of the Filling Station is guarded by a vintage Mobil 1 Pegasus, the symbol for strength and flexibility. The Filler exhibits both through its staying power as one of Bozeman’s classic bars and the eclectic mix of musicians that perform regularly in its limelight. The drinks are cheap, the atmosphere genuine, and the music as unique and entertaining as the writing on the bathroom wall.
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bozemans best award Best Place for a First Date
Sizzling Salsa at the Baxter Ballroom
Before I lose credibility with all you cowboys out there, allow me to preface with this fact: nothing rouses a woman like a little Latin rhythm – well, except chocolate. Regardless, Sizzling Salsa at the Baxter offers free dance lessons most Wednesday evenings at 8pm and an open dance from 8pm–10:30pm. The climate is friendly, and while a few folks can really shake it, most are focused on learning and fun. So buck up boys, call that girl you’ve been eyeing and prepare to get spicy; she’ll totally dig your creativity and confidence.*
(*Mandatory precursor: Shots of Patron at the Bacchus.)
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bozemans best award Best Happy Hour
Dry Fly Saloon, Holiday Inn
Dry Fly Saloon, Holiday Inn A taco bar during happy hour, really? That’s just one of the many perks offered daily at the Dry Fly Saloon. Located in the Holiday Inn off Baxter Lane, this watering hole has become a locals' hotspot—an average afternoon sees the joint filled with customers swapping tales of big fish or deep powder depending on the season. It’s also worth noting that Dan, the iconic and long-standing bartender, can whip up an authentic Pisco Sour.
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bozemans best award Best Place for Hooking Up
The Bar IX
The Bar IXRecipe for a one-night stand:
Mix one fake tan, a forged smile, and overly white teeth with two Gold’s Gym carved biceps and expensive hair gel. Toss in a couple trendy tattoos, and blend with overplayed hip-hop and copious Ron Ron Juice. Fist pump like you mean it and shake the booty. Repeat once. Then again. Remove all aforementioned ingredients from the Bar IX and place in the nearest apartment. Or car. Bake thoroughly for desired outcome. Serve and enjoy, dismissing any notion of tomorrow morning’s walk of shame.
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bozemans best award Best Rainy Day Activity
Museum of the Rockies
Museum of the Rockies Does the Montana spring have you trapped indoors? Shun the computer, resist the Wii, grab the youngsters, and head to the Museum of the Rockies. With kid-friendly displays forecasted like ‘Explore Yellowstone,’ exciting collections like the upcoming ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion,’ a planetarium, and a world-class Paleo exhibit, MOR has a slice of education for the entire family. Memorial through Labor Day, be sure to check out The Living History Farm that features costumed interpreters depicting daily life in turn-of-the-century Gallatin Valley.
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bozemans best award Best Sporting Event
Livingston Roundup Rodeo
Livingston Rounup Rodeo With calf roping, barrel racing, bull riding, fireworks, live music, dancing, and enough booze to satiate Hunter S. Thompson, nothing screams Montana party like the Livingston Roundup. A PRCA event since 1924, the Roundup showcases North America’s most talented cowboys (and cowgirls) every July 2 – 4 in Livingston’s airy arena on the banks of the Yellowstone. Grab your boots and hats, and join the Roundup’s 10,000 spectators to celebrate the 4th in style.
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bozemans best award Best Art Gallery
Visions West Gallery
Vision West Galleries Montana is a land created for gutsy types - the climate and remoteness virtually guarantee them privacy. Nonetheless, we applaud Nikki and Jeb Todd, the owners of Visions West Gallery, for their brand of professional bravery. It takes some pluck to face the winds of contemporary art amidst the sweeping landscape of Russell’s own Montana. Yet, they’ve done more than survive – they’ve flourished. VWG has the most stylish gallery in Bozeman with an even more spectacular venue in Livingston, and recently they threw in for the big game in Denver. Hats off.
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bozemans best award Best Freakish Local Tradition
Saluting the Whale
Saluting The Whale It’s a tradition born of Bozeman’s skiers, one that’s been passed down for dirt-bag generations: salute the whale. Everyone knows giving the whale a nod of respect brings good luck, staves off season-ending injury, and causes the powder gods to rain down cold smoke glory on Bridger Bowl. The whale was stolen once, but a horrific fate befell the thieves, and the mythical whale miraculously returned to keep watchful eye over local powder-seekers.
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bozemans best award Best Atrocious Women’s Bathroom
The stench alone is warning enough. It’s one of only two conditions in this lethal loo: either bleach-induced light-headedness immediately post-cleaning, or nausea producing puke post-I-just-got-done-with-finals-bender. This bathroom is one to avoid at all costs, especially if it’s late on a Friday or Saturday night. Peeing in the alley might be safer.
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bozemans best award Best Alternative Bike Store
The Bike Peddler
The Bike Peddler The makings of an “alternative bike store,” you ask? Start with a store that sells used bikes to new bikes at a ratio of 2:1. Then, include a repair shop rate of $35 – roughly half the stick-up prices at Main Street locales. Don’t forget details like “the only shop in town to sell locally designed Day 6 Bicycles” and “include rim-truing with the cost of a bike tune” and Voila! The Bike Peddler is as homegrown as you can get, and the Pea Cannery location on Oak provides a generous spot for a test ride.
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bozemans best award Best Ski Shop
The Round House at Bridger
Okay, so they don’t actually sell skis. Or bindings. Or boots. In fact, they don’t really sell much of anything that we can see. Dice and his friends operate a rental shop primarily, but they’ll tune your boards nice, if you ask nice. The main reason we picked ‘em: Round House has the sweetest of locations at the foot of our beloved Bridger Bowl. With The Grizzly Bar waiting right down the stairs, the shop’s got a deck that rakes warmth from the winter sun, they grill up super-juicy cheeseburgers, and the house dog – Bella the one-eyed Boxer – she’s a total doll. Plus, if you really gotta splurge, the Round House Sports on Main Street has everything a powderhound needs.
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bozemans best award Best Snowboard Shop
World Boards
World Boards Jay and the crew at World Boards have been at the game awhile, and they pretty much run the table at will. These guys were honored by Transworld Snowboarding Business as the ‘Shop of the Year – 2002.’ So, once you’re in the door, don’t bother protecting your wallet, the money’s already gone. Just enjoy the moment of shopping euphoria and cherish that recurring thought: maybe you are the man to school Shaun White in Sochi.
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bozemans best award Best Bookstore
Country Bookshelf
Country Bookshelf The Bookshelf may lack the extensive magazine racks and internal coffee shops that typify big box fare like Barnes & Noble, but, for the committed Bozeman reader, this locally owned shop is your destination. As one of Montana’s oldest independent bookstore, it offers a great selection of both literature and nonfiction, and is the definitive choice for all books local. The approachable and knowledgeable staff provides a level of customer service that no strip mall store can replicate. Bonus: the Main Street location precludes battling North 19th or the Gallatin Valley Mall to get to the door.
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bozemans best award Best Recycled Clothing Store
SacksIt’s a thrift store junkie’s paradise complete with hipster shopping music. The racks at Sack’s are filled with current trends and even select vintage pieces for completing that perfect costume, all at bargain prices. In addition to bringing Bozeman everything from recycled Patagonia to polyester, Sack’s is a major supporter of the Help Center and the Sexual Assault Counseling Center, both worthy causes.
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bozemans best award Best Jeweler
The Gem Gallery
The Gem Gallery There aren’t many jewelers out there with the Do-It-Yourself attitude of Gem Gallery owner, Don Baide. Designing and goldsmithing are common enough among the masses, sure, but Don gets hands-on with the tools to extract sapphires himself from the hills near Lewistown, MT. For good reason, too, the Yogo sapphires found there are rarer than diamonds, and they’re renowned for the unique, cornflower blue color. Bonus: the Gem Gallery gets the Yogo pick-of-the-litter.
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bozemans best award Best Place for Buying Cheap Beer
Town & Country Foods
Town & Country Foods Many writers speak of a muse – the spirit that is a source of inspiration. Mine works at T&C, a nameless, faceless person who hand-selects the daily beer specials. Always a mystery, the day’s offering could be Pabst Blue Ribbon, in which case my words are likely to be sullied by a blue-collar bend. Once in a long while, Newcastle Brown Ale is the muse’s choice, and off I go with the refined diction of a blueblood. I don’t hope to know what tomorrow will bring; I have only thanks for today.
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bozemans best award Best Wine Store
Wine Gallery
Wine Gallery A friendly cocker spaniel greets customers at the Wine Gallery, pointing them in the direction of sake or champagne, $150 cabs or featured wines under $12. The rest of the staff is great for suggesting expensive-tasting wines that sell for a fraction of the price or what to pair with the halibut planned for tonight’s dinner. In addition, the selection is amazing, offering everything from small, craftsman labels to the big boys of wine country.
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bozemans best award Best Outdoor Gear Shop
ProLite Gear
Prolite Gear As a small shop tucked away on Bozeman’s industrial Griffin Drive, ProLite Gear remains foreign to long-term residents and gear aficionados alike. Despite its understated profile ProLite competes with Bozeman’s more prominent shops with an extensive website, a unique selection of gear, and unprecedented customer service. From technical outerwear to camping and climbing equipment, owner, Craig Delger, and buyer, Brad Braumann, thoroughly research and test their offerings to help their customers find the gear best suited to their needs.
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bozemans best award Best Tattoo Artist
The Boys at the Lazy SR
Ozzy Osbourne, an inke-up soul if ever there was, recently told Time Magazine, “If you want to be somebody special now, don't have a tattoo, because everyone's getting them, you know.” But since we had to choose, we’re going with the branding crew at the Lazy SR over in Wilsall. It may not be ink, but it ain’t goin’ anywhere and it’s a guaranteed conversation starter.
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bozemans best award Best Family Doctor
Dr. John S. Patterson, MD
This guy suggests a neti pot for chronic sinus infections and yoga to help ease the pain of depression. His approach is multi-faceted, involving prescriptions and everything from homeopathy to exercise for getting patients healthy and back to living their lives. Dr. Patterson can be found showing off his infamous beside manner at Medical Associates where he makes even the grumpiest flu patient crack a smile with his jokes.
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bozemans best award Best Dentist
Hays Dental Group
There’s a new sheriff over at Hays Dental Group. Actually, Dr. Chris Hall started wearing the star a while ago, though Dr. Hays remains a practicing member of the team. While they employ some of the most extensive panoramic x-ray software and equipment in the state, it’s the support staff at Hays that put them over the top. So thorough and friendly, the girls at Hays make it impossible to miss a check-up, even if you really want to.
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bozemans best award Best Hot Springs
Norris Hot Springs
Norris Hot Springs A body would be hard pressed to find another hot spring that’s as colorful in history as Norris (two words: Naked Tuesdays). The place has undergone a massive fixing-up since those days—now serving up grub in addition to local beer and wine. After a day of skiing at Big Sky or fishing on the nearby Madison River, nothing beats hitting Norris for a bluegrass serenaded soak in the big wood tub.
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bozemans best award Best Ugly New Building
First Security Bank
First Security Bank Seems like there’s a long line of downtown building owners eager to destroy exceptional examples of period architecture under the banner “returning Main Street to former glory.” Main Street is an evolving, organic mixture of styles, each representing layers of this town’s and this country’s architectural fabric. Hard to say what the architect was thinking, but the result looks like a Clint Eastwood movie set ill-mated to a suburban office building for a life insurance company. Oh, how I’ll miss perusing under the concrete mushrooms at the drive-thru (though I never banked there).
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bozemans best award Best Pet Store Sign to Get 86’d by the City
DEE-O-GEE It was a heavyweight match comparable to likes of ‘Holyfield versus Tyson.’ In this corner, we present the challenger, Bozeman, Dog Town and in opposite corner is the reigning champ, Bozeman, the Socialist Republic of. The fisticuffs started flying over a couple of large-scale photos of dogs that the business owners placed in their Main Street storefront. Just big, sweet puppies – a doe-eyed Shetland and a couple of dachshunds – they’re cute, no harm to anyone. Last we heard, the city compliance officer was threatening fines, but the dog folk were standing tough. Sick ‘em, Fido.
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bozemans best award Best Athlete
Heather McPhie
Heather Mcphie The competition’s tough this year – like every year in sport-obsessed Bozeman. Nikki Kimball made a fearsome charge as a former World Cup Team gold medalist, recently named as the ‘Female Ultramarathoner of the Year,’ and a Western States 100-mile Ultramarathon champion (I get winded just saying that). This year’s award goes to Olympian bump skier Heather McPhie – she simply couldn’t be held out of the top ten on the World Cup tour. With four podiums and a win at Deer Valley, she moved from 27th in World Cup points in 2009 to 2nd in 2010. Word has it that she’s getting better, too, with bigger airs and faster splits. The Magpie is looking forward to watching her fly down the zipper lines this coming winter.
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bozemans best award Best Local Personality for a City Park Dedication
Greg Mortenson
Greg MortensonGreg Mortenson by the numbers:
Initial donation: $100 (Tom Brokaw, 2003)
Latest notable donation: $100,000 (Barack Obama, 2010)
Best-selling books: 2
Schools built: 141
Teachers supported: 1,200
Students educated: 58,000
Nobel Peace Prize nominations: 1
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bozemans best award Best Artist
Rocky Hawkins
Rocky Hawkins Rocky Hawkins turns 60 this year. He lives with his wife, Kat, on the east side of the Tobacco Root Mountains. He likes old cars. And he’s an artist who uses a lot of paint. That much we know. But how to scribe from that Spartan bio to the brilliant paintings he does, capturing the spiritual nature of Native Americans and wolves, among others – we have no idea. You have to see and experience his work for yourself; you really do. He’s featured in Bozeman at Visions West Gallery (the Magpie’s 2010 ‘Best Gallery’ by no coincidence).
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bozemans best award Best Local Author
Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison Born and raised in rural Michigan, Harrison’s roots don’t warrant “native” status but his raw, rugged, prose epitomizes nothing less than pure Montana. Sometimes harsh and disagreeable, yet always authentic, Harrison possesses the unique ability to both repel and seduce. With an approach reminiscent of Hemingway, Harrison laces simple yet lyrical storytelling with intelligence, humor, and intensity to explore human nature and its deepest emotions. Check out his latest novella: "The Farmer’s Daughter".
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bozemans best award Best Band
Ten Foot Tall and 80 Proof
10 Foot Tall and 80 Proof New favorite song: "Princess of Doom". Artist: Ten Foot Tall and 80 Proof. These guys have been bringing their honky-tonk sound to dance floors and bars around Bozeman and as far away as Oregon since 2006. When they start playing, everyone in the joint grabs the closest member of the opposite gender and starts dancing in a whirling, countrified mess of awesomeness.
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bozemans best award Best Two-Faced Political Grandstanding
Governor Brian Schweitzer v. Bozeman Tennis Courts
Brian Schweitzer First, he ambushed a local City Commission meeting in early January. Then, Governor Schweitzer appeared on Campbell Brown’s CNN show and said, “Look what they’re doing in Bozeman (with the tennis court resurfacing) … they violated the rule of common sense.” While we don’t agree that the project warranted federal stimulus money, we certainly won’t be caught on the side of the governor, who signed off on the state expenditures including the tennis court money and, according to Mayor Jeff Krauss, funding for twelve similar projects around the state.
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bozemans best award Best Bozeman Police Log Entry
(choice of two)

Police LogIt seems like every day brings more deadpan reports starring some idiot conversing in a flowerbed or possessing the wrong colored garbage can, all incidents worthy of the police blotter in this town. While many are moderately entertaining, these two are pure Montana gold.
Option A: “A woman was cited for a hit and run after she backed into a motorcycle and dragged it approximately one mile.”
Option B: “A man was warned for shooting gophers with a bow.”
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bozemans best award Best Ridiculous Waste of Chronicle Ink
The Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus
Green Coalition We like a good joke as much as the next bird. And we downright love a good spoof. At first blush, Brian Leland’s pseudo-political faction fit the bill on both counts. Then, they hit the same joke and symbol again and again – with Amanda Ricker and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle as the back-up band. In late December, the Chronicle listed the Gay Loggers among their ‘Top Ten Stories of 2009,” leaving us to wonder at all the potential for the coming year.
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bozemans best award Best Unofficial Medicinal Marijuana Dispensary Name
marijuana Though we’ve no intention of diversifying the Magpie offerings, we spent fifteen whole minutes trying to come up with some original names for the dispensaries springing up around Bozeman. Here are two of our favorites: “Mary Jane’s Apothecary” and “The Safety Meeting Supply Store.” Anything, anything but another word play off of “Green.”
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