AWARDS were handed out in 30 categories, but everyone walked away feeling like winners at the Southern Highlands Local Business Awards.
"We conduct 25 awards throughout the year and I have to say the standard is very high in the Southern Highlands," said awards convenor Steve Loe.
"It's something you should be very proud of," he told the sold-out room of 400 finalists, guests and dignitaries at Mittagong RSL on October 21.
Mr Loe's company, Precedent Productions, this year independently managed, judged and hosted the awards commending quality customer service.
Realtors Highlands Property won Business of the Year as well as their Real Estate category, and took to the stage twice to thank their staff and clients
"It's a huge privilege to be invited into someone's home and we never take that privilege for granted," said the company's licensee in charge, Peter Walker.
Several category winners took the opportunity to celebrate how they employ local people and successfully run independent businesses in a tough market.
"Keep supporting local businesses, it's important," said Austruss founder Andrew Fowler, who took home the category award for Best in Manufacturing.
"We employ 50 local people and it's good to see others rewarded for their efforts in this," he said, such as Harris Farm Markets (Best in Fresh Food), with more than 70.
Mic Mac Boutique (Best in Fashion) owner Kim Macdonald said she was "proud to be one of the individual shop owners in this field".
United Culture's Patrick Glanville (Businessman of the Year and Best in Hairdressing) echoed the sentiment with a call for a return to small shops over chains.
Jane Crowley of Dirty Jane's (Best in Specialised Retail) agreed, recalling recent times when her business "was going to cease to exist".
"Developers wanted to move in, flatten us and put a huge mall in the middle of Bowral. But thanks to our customers and supporters, that didn't happen," she said.
The teams from Mittagong Charcoal Chicken (Best in Fast Food) and Capital Chemist Bowral (Best in Pharmacy) thanked customers for sharing "smiles" and "fun".
But perhaps Phil Forrester of Le Mans Motors (Best in Automotive) spoke for all when he said: "There's only one way to do it, and that's to do it as best you can."
Emcee Paul Hancock (Channel Nine) and entertainers Damn Good Divas and Australian Idol finalist Hayley Jensen kept the night going on a sweet note.
Mr Loe thanked the awards' major sponsors Hume Coal and TrueLocal, and support sponsors Harper Entertainment Distribution Services, Clifton Accountants, Boral Cement Berrima, Wingecarribee Shire Council and the Southern Highlands Business Women's Network as well as exclusive media partner Southern Highland News.
CATEGORY and OVERALL WINNERS
Accommodation: Peppers Manor House, Sutton Forest
Antiques, Art, Crafts & Gifts: Mittagong Antiques Centre
Automotive Services: Le Mans Motors, Bowral
Bakery/Cake Shop: Stones Patisserie, Berrima
Beauty Services: The Vogue Room, Bowral
Cafe: Il Pranzo, Moss Vale
Child Care Services: Gibbergunyah Long Daycare, Mittagong
Fashion Shop: Mic Mac Boutique, Bowral
Fast Food/Takeaway: Mittagong Charcoal Chicken
Fitness Services: BENt On Crossfit, Mittagong
Fresh Food: Harris Farm Markets, Bowral
Hairdresser: United Culture, Bowral
Health Improvement Services: Hill Top Surgery
Home Furniture & Furnishings: Bed Bath & Table, Bowral
Manufacturing: Austruss, Willow Vale
New Business: Ten Thousand Paces (retail gallery), Bowral
Not For Profit: Interchange Australia, Bowral
Pharmacy: Capital Chemist Bowral
Professional Services: RMB Lawyers, Bowral
Real Estate Agency: Highlands Property, Bowral
Restaurant: Eschalot, Berrima
Service & Trade: G.J Gardner Homes Southern Highlands, Mittagong
Specialised Business: Mali Brae Farm, Moss Vale
Specialised Retail Business: Dirty Jane's, Bowral
Tourism Services: Small Farm Expo, Bowral
Business Man of the Year: United Culture, Bowral
Business Woman of the Year: Nest Children's Physiotherapy, Bowral
Youth Award: Jack Smith of A.T. Roofing, Bowral
Environmental Sustainability Award: Tammie Ash @ Exclusive Hair & Beauty, Mittagong
Environmental Sustainability Award (Highly Commended): Book Us Bookkeeping, Mittagong
Environmental Sustainability Award (Highly Commended): Irelands Machinery, Braemar
Business of the Year: Highlands Property