Despite a lack of universal holidays, January is a big month for Graham. The Young County Junior Livestock Show brings in over a hundred young contestants and more than triple the amount of spectators to the Young County Arena. Held at the same time in the same venue, the Young County Fair also attracts hundreds to Graham.

And at the end of the month, there is the annual Graham Chamber Banquet, which celebrates and awards noteworthy people, businesses and other entities within the city of Graham. This year, among the many honorees at the banquet, a city manager, a dental clinic and a beloved drive-in theater were all paid tribute as some of the best in the community for 2013.

And the winners are...

Citizen of the Year: Larry Fields For over three decades, Fields has played a key role in bringing impressive attractions to Graham, including the Young County Arena, the Graham Memorial Auditorium and the Library of Graham. He became city manager of Graham in 1979. Prior to his appointment here, he served as the city manager in Panhandle in 1973 and Abernathy in 1975. He announced at the beginning of 2014 that he would be retiring in April.

“I’m very comfortable with making this decision, because I feel that the city is in good condition and I have so much confidence in the present employees we’ve got and in the elected officials we’ve got,” Fields said. “I think it’s the right time.”

Business of the Year: The Graham Drive In

Speaking of local businesses, The Graham Drive In was the Cinderella story of the year. After learning that companies would no longer be making and distributing 35 mm film at the end of 2013, drive-ins throughout the country were left wondering how they would pay the near $100,000 to convert their formats to digital.

The Graham Drive In caught a glimmer of hope when it entered Honda’s “Project Drive-In” contest early in 2013. After a long campaign to raise awareness of its predicament, the local outdoor theatre learned in September that it was one of five winners of a digital conversion package paid for by Honda.

President’s Choice: Marlene Edwards

Edwards is one of several people who helped to bring new life to the Old Post Office Museum and Art Center on the Graham Square. As executive director of the OPOMAC, she and other dedicated staffers have brought in some amazing artists this year, helping to pique interest and invigorate attendance.

Volunteer of the Year: The Rock (Wayne Ramsey and David Flynn)

Through The Rock, Ramsey and Flynn have done their part in ensuring that this community’s youth are provided a safe environment to just hang out and be themselves. The Rock isn’t a church, and isn’t a part of any religious denomination, but it was founded upon faith-based principles, and the visionary hangout spot put forth by Ramsey and Flynn seeks not to compete with church youth groups, but to enhance them in a tobacco, alcohol and drug-free environment.

Beautification Award of the Year: 12 Oaks Dental

In late 2013, Keep Graham Beautiful, along with Progressive Waste Solutions, presented the Chamber Beautification Award to 12 Oaks Dental, whose property helped enhance the beauty of Graham. 12 Oaks continues its legacy with the annual award by keeping its overall presentation beautiful, and allowing for passersby and customers to see why Graham businesses have pride in their community.