Food, glorious food! When it comes to the top stories for 2021, updates about local restaurants nabbed half the spots on the list. They were joined by meeting recaps, a police officer profile and a certain anonymous figure who made a big splash at the start of the year.
Overall, the Lowell’s First Look website logged about a quarter of a million visits from readers in the last 12 months. They were overwhelming from the U.S. – and more specifically West Michigan – but people from around the globe also seemed to land on our page. For some inexplicable reason, for instance, we had 1,664 views originating from The Netherlands.
We published 530 articles and updates in 2021, and here are the top ten in terms of website views.
Rio Plano Taqueria was one of the most popular stories from last year too. At that time, the concept of a Mexican restaurant in the historic downtown had just been announced.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and people wondered if the restaurant would actually happen. This article from September 2021 confirmed the eatery is a go and was the 10th most read story on Lowell’s First Look for the year.
The Lowell Riddler burst on the scene in January 2021 and quickly earned a loyal following. The anonymous Riddler hid a medallion each week and issued a clue to its location. The first one to find the medallion won a prize pack of gift cards.
Riddler clues and answers were regularly some of the most popular monthly articles in 2021, but none got as many clicks as the second riddle. It was viewed enough times to crack the top ten list for the year.
The Police Beat is another perpetually popular feature. It provides a round-up of monthly police activity and highlights any notable cases.
The January edition of the Police Beat received the most views of any this year, making it the 8th most read story on Lowell’s First Look for 2021. It outlined the ongoing issues law enforcement had encountered in connection to one specific property in town.
In food news, this January article highlighted a new food truck that was making regular stops at Lowell’s New Union Brewery. Not only was the article popular, but the food was too based on the many people who lined up to order.
The Voodoo Foodoo Truck has since rebranded as The Spot Food Truck and now has its home base in Rockford. Since its debut, other food ventures, including Around Baking Company and Sabor Mexicano, have set up shop at New Union Brewery at various times.
For the past year, the Lowell Planning Commission agendas have been dominated by permit requests for marijuana businesses. However, there have been some other businesses interested in coming to town. One of those was Culver’s.
News that Culver’s received permission to build a restaurant in Lowell was well-received by readers, and this was the 6th most-read article for the year.
If all goes well, Lowell will have not one, but two, Mexican restaurants in its historic downtown. In addition to Rio Taqueria Plano mentioned previously, a different developer is putting the final touches on Ripple, a restaurant moving into the former Springrove Variety location.
The pandemic turned life upside down for practically everyone, and the 2020-2021 school year was far from normal. Masks were required, playgrounds were zoned and routines were adjusted to keep kids socially distanced and safe.
Heading into the 2021-2022 school year, parents had concerns – would masks be required? Or wouldn’t they? And then there were questions about curriculum, vaccines, and bathroom access. All these and more were brought to the school board over the summer, and our recap of the meeting was the year’s fourth most-read story on Lowell’s First Look.
Slowly, but surely, we have been working to publish profiles of all the members of the Lowell Police Department. While all have been well-read, none more so than the profile of Sgt. Scot VanSolkema.
Of course, VanSolkema is no stranger to being in the public eye. He was the face of the department for interviews with news stations across the globe after a Christmas video went viral in 2014.
Culver’s again! While the report that the restaurant would be coming to town was met with enthusiasm, news of its groundbreaking sparked even more joy. This article took the second spot on our annual top ten list, despite being published only a month ago.
The restaurant should be ready next spring, and we’ll keep you posted when the doors finally open.
By a large margin, this June edition of Scenes from Lowell was the top article for 2021. Unlike many articles which get a burst of readers immediately after publication and then relatively few after that, this round-up of new businesses has been steadily accessed during the second half of 2021.
While these are the top articles for 2021, they don’t even scratch the surface of the news published last year about the Lowell community. Never miss an article again by signing up for our weekly newsletter, and you’ll get links to all the week’s articles in your inbox each Sunday morning.