Community shines at Best of Sumter 2022


The red carpets rolled. The drinks flowed. The celebration was joyous and a welcome sight.

The Sumter Item held the red carpet gala for Best of Sumter 2022 at Sumter Original Brewery on Tuesday night, celebrating more than 300 winners in the newspaper's annual multimedia readers choice contest. More than 260,000 votes were cast by friends, family, coworkers and customers for businesses, professionals, medical services, education, auto and community events during the span of several weeks in a contest that is open annually to the public, regardless of whether they have a subscription to the newspaper.

There were special moments amid the general sparkle, the ovations for Peyton Way and her four-legged partner, K9 Tara, as they accepted their award for best law enforcement officer and for Anita Carter as she accepted her husband's award posthumously for best car salesperson. Jay Carter, of Jones Buick GMC, a longtime winner of The Sumter Item's readers choice contest, died in February.

The thanks were plentiful, maybe none more than from Monica Phan, title sponsor of the event, who showed appreciation for her staff at Tanners Gas Station, which has a location in Sumter and Manning, and for her mentors, friends and the Sumter community as a whole for its support through the pandemic. Her optimism and positivity glowed like her sunshine-yellow dress as she smiled and cheered her fellow winners.

The winners and guests may each represent their individual business or venture, may each be varying ages, genders, races, may not mingle with the person seated next to them outside the brewery walls, but together they are Sumter. The best of it.