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

from pg. 33-34 History of Marshall County, 1984
 (C) Marshall County Genealogical Society.