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By STEVEN NALLEY
The Greater Starkville Development Partnership will hold its annual banquet Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Mississippi State Universityâ€™s Hunter Henry Center.
The theme of this yearâ€™s banquet is â€śStarkville: Then and Now,â€ť and Austin Shafer, GSDP vice president of membership and the chamber of commerce, said the theme will manifest in the form of a presentation projected on three screens at the venue.
â€śWeâ€™re doing a great little photo montage of businesses and people from the past and present and seeing how their businesses have grown,â€ť Shafer said. â€ś(The theme was) chosen to show how far Starkville has come throughout even the past decade. (The presentation will) play as people are filing in and eating. Itâ€™s just a great conversation starter ... a walk down memory lane.â€ť
Shafer said GSDP President Jon Maynard will give a speech on the GSDPâ€™s vision for Starkvilleâ€™s future in 2012, and GSDP Board Chairman Steve Langston will serve as emcee. Shafer said the GSDP will present a number of unique awards at the banquet, including the Crystal Pineapple Award, given to an entity which promotes tourism through events or contributions to the community. Past Crystal Pineapple recipients include the Starkville Area Arts Council, the Mississippi Horse Park, the Mississippi State University athletic department and, most recently, the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum. Other awards include the R. Clay Simmons Exemplary Service Award, the T. E. Veitch Community Service Award, the Service to Military Award, the Steve Langston Downtown Revitalization Award, the Industry of the Year Award and Ambassador of the Year Award.
In previous years, Shafer said, the GSDP has held its banquet in the Colvard Student Unionâ€™s ballroom.
â€ś(The Union) was a wonderful venue, but being at the Hunter Henry Center affords us some amenities we couldnâ€™t have at the ballroom,â€ť Shafer said. â€śTickets sold out in less than four days. Technically, it is a first. It has never sold out.â€ť