2024 Maggy Awards: Lifestyle

Best Public School
Dillard Drive Magnet Middle School

Peak Charter Academy
Green Level High School

Best Private School
GRACE Christian School

Cary Academy
Cary Christian School

Best Active Adult Community

Carolina Preserve at Amberly

Best Nonprofit
Dorcas Ministries

The Carying Place

Best Preschool
Oak Village Academy Read More

Primrose Schools
Ivybrook Academy

Best Interior Design Firm
Lauren Burns Interiors

ASF Interiors
Design Works Studio

Best Music Venue
Koka Booth Amphitheatre

Bond Brothers Eastside
Red Hat Amphitheater

Best Local Event or Festival
Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival Read More

NC Chinese Lantern Festival
Hauntacular at Bond Brothers Eastside

Best Local Music Group or Artist
Stray Volts

The Good Doods
Major Vice

Best Coworking Space
Blush Cowork Read More

Frontier RTP
Towerview Office Suites

Best Elementary School Principal
Steve Pond, Peak Charter Academy

Robin Hester, Resurrection Lutheran School
Lynnae Morris, GRACE Christian School

Best Middle School Principal
Margaret Feldman, Dillard Drive Middle School

Steve Pond, Peak Charter Academy
Michael Hokenberg, Davis Drive Middle School

Best High School Principal
Karen Summers, Green Level High School

Nolan Bryant, Cary High School
Alison Cleveland, Green Hope High School

Best High School Coach
DeShannon Morris, GRACE Christian School

Katie Pope, Green Level High School
John Green, Green Level High School

Best Place for Outdoor Recreation
Fred G. Bond Metro Park

Downtown Cary Park
William B. Umstead State Park

Best Place for a Friends’ Night Out
Bottle Theory

RBF, Your Authentic Champagne Bar
Home for Entertaining

Best Fitness Program
Elite Core Studios Read More

Expo Life Fitness
AKtivate Fitness

Best Yoga/Pilates Studio
Elite Core Studios

Pura Vida Studio
Expo Life Fitness

Best Kids Program
Cary Dance Productions

Starpath Dance Academy
Premier School of Dance

Best Track-Out or Summer Camp
Starpath Dance Academy

Lune Spark Center for Creativity
Pura Vida Studio

Best Local TV Personality
Debra Morgan, WRAL Read More

Don Schwenneker, ABC11
Tie: Elizabeth Gardner, WRAL & Diane Wilson, ABC11

Best Local Radio Personality
Erica DeLong

Ross Hayes
KC O’Dea

Best Hotel or Resort
The Umstead Hotel & Spa

The Mayton
The Fearrington House Inn

Best Social Media Account
JustMeWendyV Read More

Home for Entertaining
NC Eat & Play

Best Local Podcast
Hairapy with Wendy Vaughan

The Holderness Family Podcast
Planning Matters Radio

Elite Core Studios

Best Fitness Program, Best Yoga/Pilates Studio

“People come and try us because they want something different,” said Dr. Rachel Stewart about Elite Core Studios, the Lagree fitness studio she co-founded during the pandemic. “It took us a little while to get our name out there and to help people understand that we actually weren’t Pilates, but Lagree.”

A 45-minute workout that focuses on form, Lagree looks for “the shakes,” said Stewart. “When your body is shaking, you know you are doing it right.” In group classes with a specialized feel, muscle resistance, cardio, core, balance, and flexibility all sculpt and tone.

Whether the goal is sculpting muscles or recovering from an injury, Lagree is a safe and effective workout for all fitness levels.

Classes are full body, meaning legs, upper body, core, and obliques are worked — and no muscle is forgotten. As Stewart revealed, “You will wake up the next morning and realize that you worked muscles you didn’t know you had.”

Results are fast, with people quickly becoming addicted to feeling strong and empowered … which keeps them coming back for more.

“Once the word got out” about Elite, said Stewart, “we attracted the most amazing members. Winning this means that people are really seeing the benefits of Lagree. They love how the workout makes them feel, and they feel the bond that our community brings.”


Blush Cowork

Best Coworking Space

Alison Rogers, founder, Blush Cowork

As the first woman-focused coworking space with child care in Cary, Blush Cowork does more than tap into the 40 percent of remote workers in need of a coworking and collaborative space. With the post-pandemic launch and growth of so many women-owned and -operated businesses and nonprofits, at Blush women can work, collaborate, achieve, and flourish in a supportive space designed for them.

Founder Alison Rogers knows that when safe and reliable child care is covered, women are more productive and creative. “We provide not just a good everyday option,” Rogers said, “but that peace of mind of having a backup for child care needs, so covering that need doesn’t conflict with work or personal goals.”

With private and semiprivate office options, all Blush memberships, even the private offices, are on flexible terms — because work needs can change in an instant, and Blush meets users at their need. Day passes, packs of day passes, and conference room hours are also available, and there are even free phone booth options.

“The folks using the space are working on a variety of projects and businesses that I could not have even dreamed of before opening Blush,” Rogers said. About her win, she shared, “I am excited and grateful! It feels good to know that we are making an impression and having an impact.”


Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival

Best Local Event or Festival

Lazy Daze — a craft-tastic celebration of art, culture, and community spirit — continues to draw in visitors (and votes), year after year.

“I like to call Lazy Daze a kaleidoscope of creativity,” said Jenna Kostka, festivals and events supervisor with the Town of Cary. “From our curated artist market featuring almost 300 vendors, to live performances on multiple stages, delicious food, and a continually changing array of interactive art experiences for all ages, Lazy Daze has something for everyone!”

Appropriately named, Lazy Daze takes place the last weekend of August — but attendees are happy to brave the heat for a chance to experience and engage with art in a multitude of ways.

“Unlike some art festivals where visitors are passive observers, Lazy Daze offers a truly interactive experience,” said Kostka. “Attendees can engage directly with artists, participate in hands-on activities, and gain insights into the creative process. This interactive element fosters a deeper and ongoing connection between the community and the arts.”

Featuring nearly 300 artists from 16 states across the US, this top-rated contemporary crafts festival has clearly captured the hearts of our readers.

“Winning the Maggy Award is an incredible honor and a testament to the collective enthusiasm and support of our community,” said Kostka. “This recognition energizes our team to continue delivering exceptional festival experiences and reinforces the value of the arts in bringing people together.”

PSA: If you love Lazy Daze, you won’t want to miss this year’s Spring Daze Arts + Crafts Festival on April 27!

Oak Village Academy

Best Preschool

Alicia Fink and Adam Zablud, co-owners, Oak Village Academy

“We look forward to Maggy time every year — it’s one of the best feelings,” said Oak Village Academy owner Adam Zablud. “It’s an honor,” echoed co-owner Alicia Fink. “We take so much pride in being a Maggy winner.”

And Oak Village Academy has much to be proud of. As one of the first preschools in the Triangle area to emphasize Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE) as the basis of campus design, their interactive outdoor learning village features buildings fashioned to explore specific architectures.

But learning isn’t limited to the four walls of a classroom. At Oak Village, any activity that can be done inside is supported outside, in the natural environment, thereby expanding the learning opportunities for students and even teachers.

Learning in this way — the natural way — increases cognitive abilities, improves physical health, and heightens social and emotional connections. And while Oak Village Academy also offers its 187 students imaginative and encouraging indoor and outdoor learning with low child-to-teacher ratios, it’s the family feel Zablud and Fink most want families to experience.

“It’s like a living room,” said Zablud about a lobby that invites parents inside with comfy chairs and a cozy fireplace. It’s thanks to this caring and comfortable atmosphere that kids love going to school. Above all, said Fink, “we want it to be known that we love it, too.”


Debra Morgan

Best Local TV Personality

Contributed photo

“We’re in this together,” said WRAL anchor Debra Morgan about the news she reports daily. “I’m going on this ride with you — and I’m very proud of that!”

With most Wake County residents getting their news from TV, and nearly 70 percent turning to WRAL, Morgan’s is a familiar face. Since joining the station in 1993, she has been a vital part of the award-winning news team, a 10-time regional Emmy Award winner, and the 2017 NC Association of Broadcasters Anchor of the Year — and at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., a fixture in many local homes.

Although it can be challenging to cover and convey emotionally heavy information, “I want,” Morgan said, “to be that person to share it with you and keep you safe.” Like when Hurricane Fran hit the region and news broadcasts were simulcast, and listeners tuned in using battery-powered radios — which they later shared with Morgan was “a lifeline for them.”

Morgan also acknowledged, when it comes to serving the same community that she’s a member of, that she is “always looking for that balance” of informing, often in relation to crime, with fun and lighthearted human-interest stories.

Said Morgan of the win after multiple years as a runner-up, “I’m very humbled that people trust us so much. This is a reflection of that.”


Best Social Media Account, Best Local Podcast

Wendy Vaughan, justmewendyv (TikTok) and Hairapy podcast

“I’m always in on the joke,” said TikTok content creator Wendy Vaughan. Although many influencers are “held to the fire to make posts about serious topics,” @justmewendyv — the self-described blonde in the blonde jokes — knows that “laughter really is medicine.” And in her videos, Vaughan delivers it in heavy doses!

With her most popular content being “funny and light,” Vaughan said her platform is intentionally designed as an outlet for the pressure people often feel to buy something. “I really want my page to make people feel like are getting something out of it that isn’t something they have to buy.”

What @justmewendyv followers are getting is likability and relatability from a creator who finds humor and irony in situations, and who can’t resist a good pun, but who also recognizes that sometimes — like many of us — if she doesn’t laugh, she’ll cry.

From #preklife to #anxietyhumor to #husbandandwifecomedy and everyday events that she renders fun and funny, Vaughan admitted, “Nothing feels better than when my followers message me saying something was hilarious and made their day.”

Being from North Carolina, to be recognized for a local award is, for Vaughan, “so special. It’s also nice to feel like you get a pat on the back for all the hard work that goes into creating a social presence.”


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