Besides being a good party, the annual Portland Buy Local Indie Biz Awards are a testament that independent businesses are better together.

“It’s a really tight community for a big city,” said Tony Cox, owner of Casco Bay Frames and Gallery and president of Portland Buy Local’s board of directors. “We have such a diverse following of people who understand that buying local can make an impact on our economy, and everyone can do it.”

Nearly 300 people turned out to Portland House of Music and Events for the free event, in which 50 nominees waited to hear the winners in 10 categories.

“I’m super honored to honor other local businesses and entrepreneurs that overcame the fear of starting something new,” said longtime event emcee Erin Ovalle, host of the “MaineLife” television show and co-founder of Style Me Portland. “Independents are the heart and soul of what makes Portland and Maine what they are.”

The Buy Local Champion award – the only board-appointed award – went to Mary Allen Lindemann, longtime owner of Coffee by Design. “Vote with your money and keep local business in Portland,” she said.

The Made in Portland award went to Anchorpak founder Colin Sullivan-Stevens, wearing one of the company’s ergonomic over-the-shoulder bags.

Food was a persistent theme among the winners: Portland’s Best Kept Secret award went to Treehouse Cafe. The Best New Business award went to Sisters Gourmet Deli. The Flavor of Portland went to Aurora Provisions. The Portland Icon went to The Holy Donut. And the Better Together award went to the Portland Farmers’ Market.

Not to worry about the thriving beer scene being left out, the Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind award went to Maine Beer Tours.

The Business to Business award went to Xpress Copy, and the Environmental Hero award went to Garbage to Garden.

“The people in this room do so much for the city,” said Jenn Thompson, Portland Buy Local program manager, the nonprofit’s sole employee. “And we’re super excited to be here at Portland Home of Music and Events, because they’re a member.”

Former Indie Biz Awards host SPACE Gallery received the Creative Crusader award.

“It feels incredible to have so many people gather in one place,” said Buy Local board member Elise Loschiavo. “The energy is wonderful. Local business is what makes Portland special. It’s truly different from other cities that feel homogeneous.”

Jay and Karina Garcia, who moved from Los Angeles to Portland in the spring, thoroughly enjoyed their first Indie Biz Awards night.

“This is the grooviest town,” he said. “We’ve been supporting all the restaurants. It’s a fat man’s dream.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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