2021 Maggy Awards: Lifestyle

Doug Casteen, left, Jason Adamo, right

Best public school

Peak Charter Academy

Apex High School
Triangle Math & Science Academy

Best private school

Cary Academy

Cardinal Gibbons
Thales Academy

Best active adult community


Carolina Preserve at Amberly

Best nonprofit

Dorcas Ministries

The Carying Place
Triangle YMCA

Best preschool


The Cary School
Oak Village Academy

Best golf course

Prestonwood Country Club

MacGregor Downs Country Club
Knight’s Play Golf Center

Best interior design firm

Lauren Burns Interiors

Southern Studio Interior Design
TIE: Design Works Studio / Red Chair Home Interiors

Best virtual event

Sassy and Social Virtual Music Bingo

Carolina Circus Festival
The Carying Place Virtual Auction

Best local music group or artist

Jason Adamo

Mike MickXer
Delta Rae

Best elementary school principal

Steven Pond, Peak Charter Academy

Raleigh Bame, Laurel Park Elementary School
Dr. Rebecca Draper, Cardinal Charter Academy

Best middle school principal

Mithat Karabulut, Triangle Math & Science Academy

H. Trent Evans, Reedy Creek Magnet Middle School
Richard Williams, Alston Ridge Middle School

Best high school principal

Matthew Wight, Apex Friendship High School

A. Elaine Hofmann, Apex High School
Karen Summers, Green Level High School

Best high school coach

Adam Sanders, Apex Friendship football

Shane Barry, Athens Drive swimming
Paul Scruggs, Panther Creek track and cross country

Best place for outdoor recreation

Fred G. Bond Metro Park

William B. Umstead State Park
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Best place for a Friends’ Night Out

Whole Brain Escape

Andia’s Homemade Ice Cream
TIE: Board and Brush / Wine and Design

Best fitness club


Rush Cycle Morrisville
Fitness Together

Best yoga/Pilates studio

Pura Vida

Republic of Yoga
Downtown Cary Yoga

Best kids’ program

Premier School of Dance

Pura Vida Studio
Starpath Dance Academy

Best track-out or summer camp


Pura Vida Studio

Best local podcast

Bob and Lu Show

The Air That I Breathe with Jodi Howe
TIE: Holly Springs Deep Dive / 919 Beer

Best local TV personality

Don “Big Weather” Schwenneker, ABC-11

Debra Morgan, WRAL
Gerald Owens, WRAL

Best local radio personality

Erica DeLong, G105

Janie Carothers, WQDR
TIE: Bryan Lord & Kyle Smelser, WRAL-FM (MIX-101.5)

Best North Carolina hotel or resort

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville
The Mayton

Jason Adamo Band

Best Local Music Artist

Jason Adamo has been entertaining audiences since he moved to the area in 2003. The current lineup of the Jason Adamo Band emerged in 2009, with the addition of Doug Casteen. Other local musicians join the duo as they are available.

In 2013, Jason moved to Nashville to write songs, scoring some success with a song he wrote with country artist Brett Young.

“His first record, he put one of our songs on it and it went double platinum, which has been great and opened some doors in the songwriting world for me,” Adamo said.

He came back to the Triangle in 2015 and, within a week, met the woman who would become his wife. Their daughter Brooklyn was born two years later.

“Around here, it’s always been just a slow and steady build of followers, with social media getting the word out about my shows. The radio stations have been really good to me over the years,” Adamo said.

Lately, the Jason Adamo Band has been playing mostly small outdoor gatherings, online performances, and promoting their new album, “Looking Glass,” any way they can. You can also listen to Adamo on WQDR-FM, 94.7, every Sunday at 9 p.m.


Sassy & Social Virtual Music Bingo

Best Virtual Event

Brittany Vann Hogin

After Brittany Vann Hogin’s first Virtual Music Bingo game didn’t go well, she soon found her groove. Now she hosts roughly 20 games a month, and fans of her events voted her a Maggy winner.

“I was absolutely not expecting the Music Bingo (games) to blow up the way they did,” she said.

Vann Hogin launched Sassy & Social 14 years ago, doing real estate marketing, admin assistance and event planning. Most successful agents host quarterly or even monthly events for their clients, she says. But since in-person gatherings were impossible, Holly Springs-based Realtor Hope Tyler, asked Vann Hogin to come up with a virtual event.

“It took me about a week to figure out how to do it. And the first one I did for her was a disaster,” she said. “So I got some of my other friends together, and I did about 15 free ones to practice.”

The Bingo cards are emailed to participants, and they log into Zoom at the appointed time. Vann Hogin plays the first 30 seconds or so of each song, and if there’s a match, clients touch that square and a red X appears on the Bingo card. Clients can choose from a range of music, including Disney tunes, Christmas music or ‘80s hits.

“They’re all like, ‘This is so much fun. It’s so good to be able to hang out with each other,’” Vann Hogin said. “Everybody’s so Zoom fatigued for meetings, and everybody is virtual everything right now, so it’s nice to get everybody together for just fun.”


Bob & Lu Show

Best Local Podcast

Bob Dumas helmed the wildly popular morning show, “Bob and The Showgram,” for nearly 30 years at G105, gaining a loyal fan base and a reputation for earthy humor. After he was fired in 2019, he regrouped, and he and his wife, Lu, launched their podcast in December 2019.

“We share our lives with people just like we were sitting at a backyard barbecue with them, just hanging out,” said Lu Dumas. “Listeners really do become family. Plus, listeners/followers know we are genuinely appreciative of their support.”

Roughly three times a week, episodes drop — about marriage, family, food, shopping and anything else that tickles their funny bones. In addition to the podcast, Bob Dumas continues to raise money for Bob’s Buddies, the nonprofit he founded to help kids with pediatric brain tumors.


Erica DeLong, G105

Best Radio Personality

As the longtime co-host of G105’s “The Showgram,” Erica DeLong has been entertaining listeners for more than a decade. She currently shares the microphone with Danny Meyers, and you can hear them every weekday morning starting at 5 a.m.

You’ve been involved with “The Showgram” since college. What keeps it fresh and interesting?

“You never know what you’re going to get each day. We always have a ‘guide’ and prep daily before the show, but things unfold according to what we say on air, through callers and news updates.”

Erica DeLong

What’s your secret to connecting with listeners?

“Because I’m from the Triangle, I care deeply for the people in our community, so connecting to the audience feels natural. We’re family.

“I love people so much! I love hearing their stories, from all walks of life. I adore our community and seeing others and businesses thrive. That’s one of the reasons I began the Free Friday giveaways each week. It has helped boost locals and get their name out there during this crazy time.”

Premier School of Dance

Best Kids’ Program

Premier School of Dance founder Monica Derrenbacher, center left, and her daughter, Taylor, take the stage at Koka Booth Amphitheatre with dancers, from left, Sydney Sapp, 17, Ella Grey London, 12, Lily Morgan, 11, Annika Froberg, 11, and Chloe Griffin, 17.

Monica Derrenbacher has trained generations of dancers at Premier School of Dance in Cary, which she founded nearly 30 years ago. One of those dancers is her daughter, Taylor, who joined the staff full-time in 2017 after graduating college with a degree in Dance Performance.

“It’s been so nice that I’ve got a daughter that’s so talented, and she could come in and help me with every age group at the studio,” Monica Derrenbacher said. “She’s a really good teacher and choreographer, so she’s been just awesome for the studio.”

Arranging classes and performances was challenging in 2020, but instruction continued over Zoom and during classes held in the parking lot.

“In June we did a recital at the studio, one class at a time, one parent came in and watched, just so our recreational kids could perform their dances they had worked on all year,” said Taylor Derrenbacher. “Most of them learned either their entire routine or finished their routine through Zoom, so that was pretty impressive.”

The mother and daughter have tried to create a safe and positive environment so dancers of all ages can have fun.

“We’ve always tried to make it like a second family for all the dancers and all the parents, that have come in and out for these 30 years,” said Monica Derrenbacher.


Triangle Math and Science Academy

Best Public School, Honorable Mention

Mithat Karabulut, Triangle Math and Science Academy

Best Middle School Principal

Mithat Karabulut

The parents, staff and families of Triangle Math and Science Academy showed up in a big way to support their school and Principal Mithat Karabulut. Their votes earned the Cary charter school an Honorable Mention in the Best Public School category, and “Mr. Kara” was voted Best Middle School Principal.

Established in 2012, Triangle Math and Science is rated among the top-performing charter schools in North Carolina by Niche.com, coming in at 10th place on its 2020 list. With a focus on science, technology, engineering and math, the school serves around 900 students from kindergarten through high school. The school graduated its first high school seniors in 2019 and is already planning to open a stand-alone high school in 2022.


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