TATER DAY Tradition claims Tater Day was established in 1842, the year Marshall County was founded. At that time first Monday in April marked the beginning of county court. Local people took this day to come to Benton and transact their business. Many traded for their needs and one of the main items traded was sweet potato slips, hence 'Tater Day.' Old timers can still remember when mule buyers came from the South and nearby states to trade and buy livestock. A special section of the court square was set aside near 13th and Poplar for the trading ring for horses, mules, hogs and sheep. This horse-swapping ring was usually the busiest part of Tater-Day but plenty of other entertainment could be found around the court square. A favorite with the children was the movie. To accommodate them the Benton Theater ran continu- ously to a full house from 10 a.m. on through the day with a western as the main attraction. Across the street from the theater the women's club conducted a sale on the courthouse grounds and often near them was a traveling preacher offering his special message to the people. Probably the most popular event was the Indian medicine- man selling his cure-alls, performing his tricks or just giving advice to his audience. It wasn't until 1960 that Tater Day began to change and lose momentum. There seemed to be too many modern ideas and not enough of yesterday to draw the people. Even the old swapping-ring had been moved to the city park. The medicine man was missing as well as many other features that had made a sort of carnival atmosphere attractive to the people. Then in 1962 a renewed interest was sparked by the Kiwanis Club when they recognized the possibilities of Tater Day becoming a drawing card for business in Benton. The Kiwanis Club formed a committee to plan new activities for the revival of the fading tradition. The committee led by Dr. Robert McCrory, Burl Flatt, and Earl St. Marie planned a day of celebration. A band concert on the court square, a parade featuring antique cars, buggies, vintage farm equipment and people wearing old style clothing made up a big part of the morning program. Later in the day an auction was held with a percentage of the sale price going to the Kiwanis Club. Following the auction a horse show was featured at the racetrack. Many classes of horses competed for the prize money. From this initial push by the Kiwanis, Tater Day seems to grow larger each year. Some resistance to the growth of Tater Day developed. A law banning hand bills was enforced when they advertised the activities for the day. Even the schools objected when the children "played hooky" in droves. The school bus drivers seemed to be in on the conspiracy as they conveniently made stops up town both morning and afternoon for children to get off or board the buses. Tater Day continues to grow and all of Marshall County welcomes it. To cooperate the school board passed a resolution to dismiss school for the occasion. Each year new activities are added until just a day isn't enough time but a weekend is needed. A "Miss Tater Day" contest elects a queen to reign over the festivities, and a giant 'Flea Market' is the antique lovers' delight. Horse races, pony pulling contests, and a Four-Wheel Drive Drag Race have been added to the popular horse show. Tater day is still a trade day, as dogs, knives, farm tools, horses, junk, and even some potatoes can be found but it is also a time to come back home and visit with friends while you have fun. from pg. 33-34 History of Marshall County, 1984 (C) Marshall County Genealogical Society.