Tribune-Courier Guest Columnist
The Benton Kiwanis Club has named Jimmie Lovett as Grand Marshal for the 171st Annual Tater Day which will be held April 7.
A lifelong Marshall Countian, Lovett was born on Jan. 8, 1940, to Roy and Lucille (Nimmo) Lovett in the Olive community. He attended school at Olive, Fairdealing and Hardin before graduating from South Marshall High School in 1958.
Upon graduation, Lovett drove a gravel truck for the Marshall County Road Department before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1963. Lovett was honorably discharged in 1965 and returned home where he became a self-employed backhoe operator.
Since a very early age, Lovett has had a love for old cars, especially Model A Fords, purchasing his first at age 14. Lovett is a member and active supporter of the West Kentucky Model A Restorers’ Club and is frequently seen driving his antique cars on Saturday mornings in Benton or in local parades and other community events throughout the area including the Tater Day Parade.
The Kiwanis Club selects Grand Marshals based on a person’s history of involvement with the local celebration and Lovett certainly fits the criteria. He has been a fixture of the Tater Day celebration for many years, usually smiling from ear to ear while driving his Model A Ford in the parade.
“I have attended every Tater Day of my 74 years, except for two years I served in the army,” Lovett said. “I am proud to have been asked to be this year’s Grand Marshal.”
Lovett’s father, Roy Lovett, who served as First District magistrate from 1954 to 1974, was chosen as Tater Day Grand Marshal in 1984.
Lovett married Paulette Taylor on Oct. 25, 1968. They have two children, David Lovett and Christy Bollinger; two grandsons, Eric and Adam; and one great-grandson, Ryder.
Celebrated on the first Monday in April, Tater Day has been a Marshall County tradition since 1843 when local farmers came to Benton to trade sweet potatoes to boost local agriculture.
The event eventually developed into a festive trade day and is now regarded as one of the oldest celebrations of its kind.