October 04, 2022

Marshall-Putnam Counties: ‘Watermelon Crawl,’ dueling pianos and tractor pull highlight 100th Marshall-Putnam Fair

HENRY, Ill. — Visitors to the 100th Marshall-Putnam Fair can do the “Watermelon Crawl,” and sip wine as they watch pianos duel.

The first night of the fair, July 14, opens with a full slate of festivities.

“We will have our kickoff dinner, we have harness racing, a wine tasting and this year, along with the wine tasting, we have dueling pianos,” said Lori Deeworth, fair board secretary.

Deeworth said fair organizers had a committee to plan the events to make the 100th fair extra special.

“We have been planning since August and September of last year. We wanted to get it all in motion. We were hoping for the best and that we could have a fair in 2021,” she said.

After the 2020 fair was canceled, many of the events, including the country concert planned for the 2020 fair, were moved forward a year.

“It would have just been devastating if we couldn’t have had a fair this year,” Deeworth said.

Drew Herridge, the concert organizer for the Marshall-Putnam Fair Board, has been waiting since 2019 to see the country concert become a reality.

It was in August 2019 that Herridge and the fair board approached country singer Tracy Byrd about performing at the 2020 Marshall-Putnam Fair.

“We started talking to him in August 2019. We originally had him for the 2020 fair. That was canceled. So, I have been holding on since August 2019, trying to get Tracy Byrd to come to Henry, Illinois,” Herridge said.

Byrd hit the charts with his second album, “No Ordinary Man,” released in 1994. Five songs from that album made it into the top five in 1994, including “Watermelon Crawl,” “Keeper of the Stars,” “Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous,” and “The First Step.”

Byrd went on to further fame with hits such as “Don’t Take Her, She’s All I Got,” a cover of the 1971 Johnny Paycheck hit. His other hits include “I’m From the Country,” “Drinkin’ Bone” and “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo.”

Byrd will perform along with the Joe Stamm Band and Craig Gerdes on Thursday, July 15.

The Lucas Oil America’s Pull tractor pull will return to the Marshall-Putnam Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 17.

On Friday, the motorsports madness begins at the Marshall-Putnam Fairgrounds with the demolition derby.

“It’s always standing room only for our demolition derby. The grandstands are full. The bleachers are full. It’s a hugely popular event for us,” Deeworth said.

On Sunday, the last day of the fair, the attention turns to family fun.

“There’s a church service in the morning. And then we have a Sunday Funday. We will have different games and activities for kids and games and activities for adults, like bags. It’s just a leisurely Sunday with something for everyone to do, and then the antique and stock tractor pull is Sunday afternoon,” Deeworth said.

Deeworth said ticketing information for all of the grandstand events, including the country concert, is available at marshallputnamfair.org, through the Marshall-Putnam Fair’s Facebook page or by calling the fair office at 309-364-2814.

Marshall-Putnam Fair

July 14-18

915 University Ave., Henry, Illinois