30 Years of Bean
The First Tennessee Soybean Festival was held September 6-11, 1994 through joint efforts of city leaders and UTM officials. Dr. Jerry Gresham, Martin Mayor Larry Taylor, and Park Wells of the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council played an integrate role in the creation of the Soybean Festival. In 1994, the first ever Soybean Festival was proud to host a little more than 25 events. The first big name performers were Tim McGraw and Suzy Bogguss. Events such as a tractor rodeo and toy pedal tractor pull showcased the spirit of agriculture that is prevalent today.
During its inception, leaders such as Taylor, Gresham, Wells, former UTM Chancellor Margaret Perry, Richard Kelly, David Hopkins, Suzanne Speight, Teresa Johnson, Nick Dunagan, and Sharon Wade molded ideas to coordinate what is now the largest tourist event in the City of Martin.
Through the partnership with UTM, visitors were treated to a UTM campus tour led by former grounds manager and green thumb enthusiast Guy Robbins. Visitors traveled in tractor drawn wagons filled with hay bales during the tours. The first ever festival boasted a cheerleader competition as well as an antique tractor pull. The festival has grown tremendously since its inception in 1994; however, the tradition of celebrating agriculture and one of the country’s biggest cash crops are the common bond that keeps the festival strong. With the idea that the festival truly is at the “crossroads of good living”, the celebration of the soybean continues to allow people to pay homage to a tiny yet worthy vegetable that is capable of feeding and fueling everyday lives.
Tennessee Soybean Festival history from 1994-2022
1994 – 1st TN Soybean Festival
The First Tennessee Soybean Festival was held September 6-11, 1994, through joint efforts of city leaders and UTM officials. Dr. Jerry Gresham, Martin Mayor Larry Taylor, and Park Wells of the Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council played an integral role in the creation of the Soybean Festival. The September date was chosen after careful consideration of the weather patterns throughout the year, and September had the least amount of rain. In 1994, the first ever Tennessee Soybean Festival was proud to host a little more than 25 events. The first big name performers were Tim McGraw and Suzy Bogguss. Events such as a tractor rodeo and toy pedal tractor pull showcased the spirit of agriculture that is prevalent today.
1995 – 2nd TN Soybean Festival
Japan is one of the leading importers of soybeans, the soybean rep from Japan with the title of “Mr. Soybean” was the Grand Marshall at this year’s festival parade. New events that were added to the festival line-up were Agriculture Day and the Downtown Merchants Sidewalk sale. This year also saw a Thursday night UTM game with postgame fireworks and concert by “The Windows” as part of the festival.
1996 – 3rd TN Soybean Festival
Several events have by now become annual events including the BBQ cookoff, Bicycle Rodeo and the 5K race. New additions for this year were a fashion show sponsored by Weldon Library and a Kennel Show. The Grand Marshall for the parade was founding organizer Jerry Gresham. The festival has a tradition of inviting up and coming artists to perform and this year’s headliner was Trisha Yearwood.
1997 – 4th TN Soybean Festival
“A Great Place for a Great Time!” Celebrate life in a small town. The biggest addition to the festival came this year in the form of the first street fair downtown complete with vendors and a carnival. The parade had a special route down Lindell and then on to Oxford to accommodate the street fair. The Grand Marshall was Larry Taylor. The first annual MTD car show makes an appearance in the Skyhawk parking lot and the American Legion hosts the first annual Pancake Breakfast. Concerts included local talent Barbara Bailey Hutchison and Grand Ole Opry star Mike Snider, who would go on to make many appearances, and Club 51.
1998 – 5th TN Soybean Festival
Pageants are one of the first events to kick off the festival each year with Little Mr. & Miss Soybean, Junior Miss Soybean and Senior Miss Soybean Festival crowned in three separate pageants. The Carl Seale Tennis Tournament and the High School Rodeo Championship continue to draw participants. Other yearly events are the “Pig-Out in the Park” and the Saturday night Street Dance following the UT Martin Soybean Festival Football Celebration. The Grand Marshall for this year’s parade was Dennis Suiter.
1999 – 6th TN Soybean Festival
“A Labor Day Week Tradition Continues”. Each year events are added that become annual events. This year’s event is the Pet Show sponsored by the Weakley County Animal Clinic. This year was the only year to have the addition of the Walker Brothers Circus in YMBC Park. The Friends of the Weldon Library hosted the first full day of free activities for children. Concerts this year included a Wednesday night Gospel concert at UTM and a Friday night Concert in the Park in Virginia Weldon Park featuring “Party of 5”. The Soybean parade sponsored by City State Bank made its permanent move to Tuesday night this year and the Grand Marshall was UT Martin Chancellor Philip W. Conn.
2000 – 7th TN Soybean Festival
This year’s festival kicked off with a UT Martin Community Appreciation Picnic in the Quad as UTM athletes and fans got ready for the upcoming sports season. Other great meals this were the Cajun Dinner at St Jude Catholic Church, and the “Pig-Out in the Park” becomes the “Chicken Crazy and Hog-Wild BBQ Cook-off.” This year’s concerts included “Train” at the UTM Elam Center and “Forever Friends” in Weldon Park. Grand Marshalls of this year’s parade were the MMS Cheerleaders. Martin closed the festival with a Community-Wide Church service on Lindell Street.
2001 – 8th TN Soybean Festival
This year’s festival occurred just prior to the events of 9/11, ending Sept 8th. Little did we know. This year honored the first “Big Bean,” an individual or organization honored for their outstanding contributions the TN Soybean Festival. The first recipient of this prestigious award was Larry Elgin of Reelfoot Bank. Two prayer breakfasts were added to the schedule, the Soybean Festival Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday morning, and the Farmer’s Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning. Nick Dunagan was named as the Grand Marshal of the parade. The concert line-up included Clay Crosse with “Quickchange” at Westview, “1964 The Tribute”, a Beatles tribute band at the UT Martin Appreciation picnic, and free concerts on Friday and Saturday night featuring country artists John Anderson and Mike Snider on Friday, and rock band Carol Plunk and “27B Stroke 6” on Saturday, performing on the Main Stage now located in Historic Downtown Martin.
2002 – 9th TN Soybean Festival
David Belote was appointed as the Executive Director of the Tennessee Soybean Festival. A UT Martin Soybean Program was presented for middle school and high school children, and the public. The UT Martin Football game and Community Picnic continued Thursday night. New additions were “What’s It Worth?” antique appraisal with WPSD’s Mike Mallory, Soybean Festival Music Trivia sponsored by WCMT and a Central Business District Auction. Mayor Larry Taylor and Police Chief J.D. Sanders were featured in “Kiss the Chicken.” This year’s Grand Marshall for the parade was The Fire Dept and the Military and the “Big Bean” was Jim Schuster and MTD Products. Free country concerts featured Doug Kershaw and Earl Thomas Conley.
2003 – 10th TN Soybean Festival
Governor Ned Ray McWherter was the Grand Marshall for the parade, and the Big Bean was Connie Betz and Tyson Foods. Sodexo hosted a community meal downtown. The Children’s Street Fair officially kicked off to become an annual event where the Primary and Elementary School children walked downtown to spend a few hours in separate groups. The first annual Quilt Show also brought adults to the Weldon Library on Friday. The Soybean Golf Tournament, a part of the festival from the beginning, celebrated its 10th year. An Antique Tractor Pull added to Saturday’s fun. The concerts for this year were Chris Cagel with Craig Morgan on Wednesday night, “The Animal Band” and “The Soul Shockers” on Friday and Jessica Andrews with special guest Marcel.
2004 – 11th TN Soybean Festival
This year saw the beginning of the tradition of honoring our local heroes following 9/11 with breakfasts for the Martin Police Dept and Fire Depts hosted by Mike and Kathy Barnette at Our Backyard Town. Special acknowledgements this year were Nick and Cathy Dunagan as Grand Marshalls of the parade, Big Bean Newell Graham and Union City Bottling Co, and the first inductee into the Hall of Fame former Mayor of Martin, Larry Taylor and Former TN Soybean Festival Director Jerry Gresham. (The Hall of Fame was set up to honor citizens of Martin who, among other things, have contributed significantly to the ongoing success of the festival.) The Dale Earnhardt Jr Car made an appearance downtown and the first annual Soccer Jamboree was held at the Martin Recreation Complex. Another first was the annual Faith and Community Night, sponsored by the Martin Area Ministerial Alliance, was held which included a concert by Larnelle Harris and the Community Choir. This year’s concert line-up included “Radio Daze” Big Band concert Tuesday night, the “Soul Shockers” Thursday night, “The Peacemakers” and “Classic Rock All Stars” Friday, and “10-O-C”, “Tequila Sunrise”, an Eagles tribute band, and Brian McComas Saturday afternoon and evening.
2005 – 12th TN Soybean Festival
The Soybean Festival Talent Contest made its second appearance, and the Senior Citizen Shuffleboard Tournament its 9th at the Senior Citizen Center. This year’s opening act on Tuesday night was Joyce Cobb and “Cool Heat” after the parade. Comedy Ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger followed by “Shenandoah” entertained Thursday night as the festival teamed up with the UTM Student Activities Council to make Thursday night Student Night. Other performers this year were “The Alabama Blues Brothers Show’ and Eagles tribute band, “Tequila Sunrise” on Friday and “The Distraxshuns” followed by Craig Morgan making his opening act debut at the festival. New to the festival this year were novelty acts with special performances. “The Stunt Team,” the BMX Bike Show, wowed. Other additions this year were an Art Show by local artists and “The Price is Right LIVE Game Show”. This year’s honorees included Grand Marshalls Paul Tinkle and Chris Brinkley, Big Beans Katie Winchester and Tom Seratt of First Citizens National Bank, and Hall of Fame inductee, Larry Elgin, Reelfoot Bank.
2006 – 13th TN Soybean Festival
A new opportunity to gather, “The Meet in the Middle Civic Luncheon,” was sponsored by Martin Businesses for a cost of $3.00 a meal. Sodexo at UTM also paired their Sunday Brunch with the festival for the first time. Saturday morning was full of new activities with the first Community Health Fair, the “Bikers for Books” Poker run, and the Grand Opening of the MTD Soccer Complex during the Soccer Jamboree. A community service was offered in the form of a demonstration on how to operate the new voting machines at the Weldon Library. Once again, the major awards were handed out to the Grand Marshalls, The Martin Beautiful Committee, The Big Bean – Sam Lewellen at First State Bank, and the Hall of Fame inductee, Former TN Soybean Festival Director Steve Vantrease. This year’s festival saw the beginnings of nightly concerts. Musical performances included “Radio Daze” Big Band concert Tuesday, The Cobb Family and “Peacemakers” in concert Wednesday, the “Spin Doctors” Thursday as the Street Fair and Carnival officially opened. Friday concerts included “Sorghum Hill,” in the park and “The Return” Beatles tribute opening for “38 Special,” in what would become the first of many appearances at the festival. The week wrapped up with Performers in the Park – Reba Wade’s Music Studio High Variety, and Valli Kelly’s Star Struck Studio Singers Saturday afternoon, and the evening performances by “Funk de Ville” and headliner “Diamond Rio.”
2007 – 14th TN Soybean Festival
A new theme – “The Crossroads for Good Living.” A new name. The “Meet in the Middle” luncheon became the “The Crossroads Luncheon.” New additions were the first annual Friends of the Library Book Sale and the WCMT Singing Bee as well as a Super Retriever Field Trial which ran through most of the week. This year’s festival offered entertainment, local and professional, every night beginning on the Sunday before Labor Day through Saturday night as well as novelty act the FlippenOut Trampoline Show. Local entertainment included the talent show on Monday night, WCMT’s The Singing Bee Friday, and Reba Wade’s Music Studio High Variety and The Nashville Songwriters Acoustical Jam on Saturday in the Park. Other concerts were The Blackwood Brothers Sunday night, “Chapter Six” Tuesday night, “Gold City” Wednesday night, and “Emerson Drive” Thursday. Friday performances of Bluegrass in the Park featured Dan Knowles and His Hot Band, Will Tell and “Old Santa Fe” while the main stage welcomed Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. Saturday night wrapped up with “Hot Rocks” a Rolling Stones Tribute band and headliner Blake Shelton. Grand Marshalls were Jason Simpson and the UT Martin Football Team and the Big Bean was Steve Westenhofer of Volunteer Community Hospital.
2008 – 15th TN Soybean Festival
Since the beginning of the festival, the Mayor’s Luncheon has kicked everything off. Over the years the awards for Big Bean, Hall of Fame and Grand Marshall were awarded here, as were service and Martin Beautiful Awards. This year’s Grand Marshal was Col. Bob Smith and Hall of Fame inductee was Lynn Gibson, former Soybean Pageant Director. This year the street festival kicked off on Tuesday to put the festival in full swing. Rodeos and horse shows were a part of the festival, and the second annual Soybean Classic All-Youth Horse Show took place Saturday, as well as a Bass Anglers Fishing Rodeo and Casting contest in the Martin Recreation Center Complex Lake. Music was again a big part of the festival with performers including a return of “The Return” a Beatles tribute, “The Melody Makers”, the Daniel Doss Band, Corey Smith, Nashville Songwriters, “Voo Doo Village,” “Peacemakers,” The Marshall Tucker Band, “Margarita Beach” and “Lonestar.”
2009 – 16th TN Soybean Festival
More favorite annual events were added this year – the Cancer Crash Car Bash, Soybean Idol, and the Soybean Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest. The Senior Adult Shuffleboard tournament became Senior Adult Bingo. With opening of the Arts CO-OP downtown, the Art Exhibit and Competition moved there from the Weldon Library. Activities still in action were a Literary Reading (plus the addition of “How to Research you Family Tree”) at Weldon Library, the Quilt Show, the Car and Bike Show, the Bicycle Rodeo, the prayer breakfasts and the American Legion Ladies’ Auxillary Pancake Breakfast. A one-time event this year was the Walk-n-Roll for Children with Special Needs walk in the UTM Quad. This year’s Grand Marshall was Audrey Roberts, and the Hall of Fame inductee was Parks Wells of the TN Soybean Association. Music performances 2009 saw the first of the week occupied with the Soybean Talent Show and Soybean Idol semi-finals and finals. Wednesday welcomed The Lesters and Daniel Swanberg, America’s Minister of Encouragement; Thursday, “Sister Hazel;” Friday, “Main Line” and “Second Helping,” a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute; and finally on Saturday, “Margarita Beach,” “Seven Bridges,” an Eagles tribute, the winner of the Soybean Idol Contest and headliner, “Little Texas.”
2010 – 17th TN Soybean Festival
By now, things are pretty much in place with only a few additions each year, one of which for this year is the first annual Disk Golf Tournament and the NFL Punt-Pass-Kick Competition. Free concerts are still happening throughout the week in the park and on the Main Stage downtown. Mainstays like the “Peacemakers,” “The Return,” a Beatles tribute, and “38 Special” are back. A new venue has been added at The Gap, a space between buildings on the north end of town. Performing in the Gap was John Sutton, “Jamaica Me Crazy,” “The House Band,” and “27 B Stroke 6.” Bluegrass in the Park featured the Ryan Holladay Band. Rounding out the performances on the Main Stage were Kip Moore opening for Jason Michael Carroll on Thursday, and “The King Bees” opening for John Michael Montgomery. Honorees this year are Grand Marshalls Roy and Barbara Wright and K & N Root Beer, the Big Bean – The TN Soybean Association, and Hall of Fame inductee, Soybean Festival Technical Director Tim Barrington.
2011 – 18th TN Soybean Festival
This year the Bicycle Rodeo moved from the Sunday after Labor Day to Labor Day, and an Amateur Radio demonstration was added to the line-up. Senior Adult Bingo and Senior Adult Rook were held at the Senior Adult Center. Senior Adult Appreciation Day and the Grand Opening of the Cane Creek Resource Center was held Tuesday. The Health Fair was combined with the Faith and Family celebration downtown. An original fixture of the festival, the Golf Tournament made its 18th appearance, this year at Persimmon Hills in Sharon. The music line-up for this year was Mark Schultz on Wednesday; “Uncle Cracker” for Thursday UT Martin Student Night; Friday’s Bluegrass in the Park “Crosswind,” followed by main stage performances by “Peacemakers” and “Kansas;” and Saturday headliners “Diamond Rio.” The Grand Marshall was Jon Pritchett of Southern Milling, The Big Bean was the National Soybean Board, and the Hall of Fame inductee was TN Soybean Festival Director David Belote.
2012 – 19th TN Soybean Festival
The Carson and Barnes Circus kicked off the festival with two performances on the Friday before Labor Day. The Senior Adult programming expanded to Dominos, and the first annual Softball Showcase was added to the festial. The America’s Farmers Mobile Experience gave the public a chance to step into 1000 square foot space to learn about the demands of global agriculture and how farmers are the solution. The North End Crossing Juke and Junkin’ Fest featured a community wide yard sale and Zumba, and an auction to benefit We Care. The UT Martin Student concert featured “Bowling for Soup.” The “Peacemakers” are by now a mainstay as the opening act on Friday night for headliner “Grand Funk Railroad.” The festival ended on a high note to the music of Travis Tritt. This year’s Grand Marshalls were the Vincent Family, the Big Bean was Vowell and Sons, and the Hall of Fame Inductee was the Director of C.E. Weldon Library Roberta Peacock.
2013 – 20th TN Soybean Festival
The opening for this year’s festival was a Biodiesel Truck and Tractor Pull on Friday night and WOW Wrestling on the Saturday before Labor Day. Sunday night featured “The Reunion,” a Beatles tribute with 20th anniversary fire works at Martin Recreational Park. The Weakley County Farming Photo Exhibit: Past to present was exhibited at Weldon Library for the week. A special tribute was paid to the military on the final Saturday, “A Salute to Military: Honoring POWs, MIAs and Veterans. A full line up of music featured Dustin Lynch Tuesday night; Lydia Walker and “The Martins on Wednesday; UTM Percussion Ensemble opened for “Red Jumpsuit Apparatus” for UTM Student Night; The “Peacemakers” and “Survivor” on Friday; and “Sawyer Brown” Saturday. The Grand Marshall was David Murphy of Murphy Funeral Home, The Big Bean was Savant Learning Systems, and the Hall of Fame Inductee was Chris Mathis, Soybean Festival Board Member and Finance Coordinator.
2014 – 21st Soybean Festival
The second annual Biodiesel Truck and Tractor Pull kicked off the festival. Saturday asked the public to “Eat Out, Come Out, Go Out” for a full day of food deals at local restaurants and children’s booths in the afternoon accompanied by a Disney Concert by the Community Band and a showing of “Frozen” in Festival Park. The first annual “Guitar as Art” exhibit opened in the Art Gallery on campus Sunday afternoon, followed by the second annual Salute to the Military, and Sunday night concert and fireworks featuring “Surf’s Up” a tribute to the Beach Boys. Yearly events still going on were the pageants, sidewalk chalk, bicycle rodeo, golf and disk golf tournaments, the Soybean Talent Contest, and Cancer Crash Car Bash. A combined Salute to the Heroes Breakfasts were also still held on the Thursday morning. New additions were the first annual Sammies Bacon Eating Contest and a Fitness Class Demonstration. Music artists this year were the “Cadillac Three” on Tuesday, “Audio Adrenaline” Wednesday, UTM Percussion and “We the Kings” Thursday, “Little River Band” Friday, and Tom DeLuca opening for Lee Brice Saturday. The Grand Marshalls were the UTM National Men’s Rodeo Team, and the Big Bean was Fred Wilkinson of H & R Agri-Power.
2015 – 22nd Soybean Festival
Magical Martin Day made it’s first appearance at the festival on Saturday, along with the “Under the Sea Tea.” The festival also hosted the first West TN Dairy Show. On Sunday night the public was urged to bring a picnic and enjoy the Soybean Kick-Off Spectacular with “Seven Bridges” an Eagles tribute and fireworks. The “History of Farming in Weakley Co” made its debut at Weldon Library. Other favorite events still going on were Friends of the Library Book Sale, the 22st annual Chicken Crazy, Hog Wild BBQ Cookoff, and Crossroad Luncheon. This year offered two emotionally charged opportunities to remember 9/11 – the “9/11 NEVER FORGET” Mobile exhibit and the “9/11 Never Forget Ceremony” during Faith and Community Night. The Music makers included “Mike Snider and the String Band” Tuesday; “Sanctus Real” Wednesday, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Thursday, and “School of Rock” opening for “Night Ranger” Saturday night. The Grand Marshall was Dorothy Alexander, Big Bean was Dupont Pioneer, and Hall of Fame Inductee Hollie Holt.
2016 – 23rd TN Soybean Festival
This is the first year that the festival submitted entries to the Southeast Festivals and Events Association (SFEA). We came away with awards for Best Children’s Programming – Magical Martin Day, and Best Promotional Poster for Guitar as Art. Magical Martin Day moved permanently to Weldon Park. Other children’s programming for the year included “Bare Necessities of Making Music” and this year’s tea – “Elsa’s Ice Cream.” It also incorporated video games in the form of
“The Minecraft Arming Challenge” for ages 10 to 15. The festival kicked off with a city-wide clean-up and inclusion of the Home Grown Farmer’s Market. This year’s novelty acts, “Cow Town USA,” “Panfilov’s Performing Pets,” and the “All-American Lumberjack Show” entertained audiences at multiple shows around downtown. This year saw a full week of musical entertainment each evening beginning the Friday before Labor Day with ticketed concerts in the newly laid out arena with seats and bleachers. Friday kicked off with Morris Day and the Time, and then Saturday included the Community Band featuring Rachel Taubee and “The School of Rock.” Sunday night’s Sundown Concert and Fireworks Celebration invited the public to picnic and enjoy the music of Chris Collins & Boulder Canyon, a John Denver tribute. Monday night featured Hunter Hayes; Tuesday night, “Brothers Osbourne”; Wednesday, Travis Cottrell and the Local Community Choir; Thursday’s UTM Student night – “Plain White T’s”; and Friday night, Vince Gill. The festival wrapped up with a double billing of “Blood, Sweat and Tears” and “Three Dog Night.” This year’s Grand Marshalls were Mary Vowell, Jackie Vowell, and Vowell and Sons. The Big Bean was Republic Services, and the Hall of Fame Inductee was Lynette Wagster, Soybean Festival Committee Member, Book Coordinator, and Weakley County Press Manager.
2017- 24th TN Soybean Festival
This year’s festival started a new tradition of The Homegrown Appreciation Dinner at the Farmer’s Market which gave tribute to so many who work to ensure that the TN Soybean festival is a success. New additions this year included “Break for Bach” which gave locals a chance to experience classical music, the Makers Faire where you could see art created before your very eyes, and the Funny Little People who made their first appearance at schools, shows and roaming the street. This year’s children’s tea was “Be Our Guest” featuring Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and a host of dancing cutlery. Once again, the festival submitted entries to the SFEA (Southeast Festivals and Events Assoc.) awards and won awards for Best Children’s Programming, Best Creative Idea, Best Volunteer – Suzanne Harper, Best Sponsor, and Best T-shirt. The music kicked off at the Sunday Sundown concert with “Bluffet,” a Jimmy Buffet tribute. Other concerts included Tuesday night “Live and Let Die,” a Paul McCartney tribute, Echosmith on Wednesday, Clint Black Thursday, “School of Rock” opening for “Air Supply” on Friday, and Lynyrd Skynryd closing things down in a big way Saturday night. The Grand Marshall was UT Martin, the Big Bean was Trevor Bonnstetter of WK&T, and the Hall of Fame Inductee was Paul Tinkle, Soybean Festival Mayors Luncheon Emcee and WCMT Radio Director.
2018 – 25th TN Soybean Festival
The festival got an early start this year in the form of “Froggyland’s Got Talent” auditions the two Saturdays before the actual festival beginning, with the finals Labor Day evening. The Saturday before Labor Day was jam packed with activities like Sidewalk Chalk, Touch a Truck, the Terra Thesaurus Show, Build Your Own Instrument, The Martin Community Band, The 6th Annual Biodiesel Truck and Tractor pull, AND Movie Night in Weldon Park! The Tour of the Arts continued the last Saturday with “The Magic Flute,” by the UTM Music Dept, and “United We Stand” puppets by Ralston Baptist Church. The General Store, a new addition to the festival, also made its debut – a small building where you could view the collection of art, “EST 1873: An Illustrated History of Martin” by Rachel Melton as well as photos by the West TN Photography Club and soy-based products. A second stage, The Oxford Street Stage, was located in the parking lot on the north side of Oxford Street and added space for smaller acts to perform. Labor Day started with Sesame Street Live “C” is for Celebration on the Main stage before moving to Weldon Park. After two years, the Martin Caboose in Weldon Park was restored by Martin Middle School student, Ryan Robinson, and celebrated at the festival during Magical Martin Day. Novelty acts to be enjoyed included the TSF Magic Show on Monday, and then Live Shark Encounter, The Nerveless Nocks Thrill Show, Those Funny Little People, and the US Army Interactive IS2 Robotics Exhibit AT the end of the week. Tuesday night after the parade, the public could take advantage of carriage rides along the Brian Brown Greenway. This year’s music was varied, beginning the first Friday night with “Martin Made Music” at the Lindell featuring Larry Brewer of “The Windows.” Sunday’s free Sundown concert starred Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers. Tuesday took us back to the 60’s with the Frankie Valli tribute, “Let’s Hang On!” Things turned to the classics with the Jackson Symphony Wednesday night. Thursday saw “Switchfoot,” and Friday the double header of “38 Special” and Foreigner.” Saturday was to have wrapped things up with country artist Gretchen Wilson opening for “Big and Rich,” but a huge storm came in and washed out the performance, and most of downtown. This year the festival won 23 SEFA awards including Bronze for Best Festival of $75,000. Grand Marshalls were Kenneth Moore and Parks Wells, Big Bean MTD Products, and Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Capps.
2019 – 26th TN Soybean Festival
This year saw the debut of the annual Brian Brown Greenway Art Competition where artists painted 3 x 3 ft wooden squares that were displayed and voted on along the greenway. Some of the novelty acts were here for the whole week and included “Eudora Farms, Animals Around the World” and the “Sea Lion Splash” show, while the “Incredible Chinese Acrobats” joined in on Thursday. Several activities moved from Saturday to Labor Day – Touch a Truck, Sidewalk Chalk, Makers Faire, and the annual bicycle rodeo joined the line-up. With the old City Hall now torn down to make room for the new public Library, the General Store sat on the corner of Central and University surrounded by the “Lightning McQueen” car and “Mater” tow truck from Pixar’s “Toy Story.” Two new mascots also joined the family – Marty, a 5-foot crocheted soybean in overalls with a guitar, and Super Soy, a live action mascot. A second stage, The Big Bean Stage, faced south at the corner of University and Lindell with programmed entertainment. Music for the week included the return of several favorites, Sunday Sundown, “The Beatles Return,” a Beatles tribute; Monday, Mike Snider; and Tuesday, “Seven Bridges,” an Eagles tribute. Wednesday featured the Bethel University Renaissance Choir; Thursday, “Runaway June” and Walker Hayes; Friday, The Oak Ridge Boys; and rounding out the week, Saturday, “Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx.” Several local establishments also had their own TN Soybean Festival celebrations including The Hawks Nest and Cadillac’s. The Grand Marshalls were Mary and Charles Nethery and the Big Bean was the Laderman Family, owners of Sammies and the Grind.
2020 – 27th Soybean Festival
The COVID-19 Pandemic closed down the festival, and the world. Also, during this time, the Martin Public Library was built on the corner of University and Lindell Streets on the lots formerly occupied by the Martin City Hall and Martin Police Dept.
2021 – 28th Soybean Festival
This was the first festival to take place using the permanent stage on the north side of the newly finished Martin Public Library, August 2020. This facility allowed for comfortable dressing rooms for the artists and direct, indoor, access to the stage. The first performance scheduled was a Battle of the Bands featuring local bands on the Saturday night before Labor Day. The Sunday Sundown concert brought “The Purple Xperience,” a Prince tribute; Monday, “The Little Mermen…A Disney Tribute Band”; Tuesday, “Hollywood Swinging: Kool and the Gang Tribute”; Wednesday, “The Return” a Beatles tribute; Thursday, “School of Rock,” and Rick Springfield; Friday, “Resurrection” a Journey tribute, “Man in Black” a Johnny Cash tribute, and Ryan Daniel. Finally, Saturday “Bohemian Queen” a Queen tribute and Bret Michaels, with an afternoon concert by the Fabulous Blackwood Quartet. This year saw the penning of two songs specially written for the festival by Dr. Roberto Mancusi, “The Bean is Back in Town,” and another to “New York, New York.” Other aspects of this year’s festival included Saturday’s TSF Firefighters Challenge, the “Bulls and Beans” bull riding and more, The Angry Axe Axe Tournament, “Last One Standing” endurance contest, and the debut of the first annual “Fast and Furious Power Wheels Race”. Magical Martin Day included the addition of the new “Magic Bean Storytime Hour” in the brand-new Children’s Library. The Gateway Center sponsored a craftmanship display of custom-made quilts, cards, and knit pieces. Novelty acts for this year included the return of the now beloved “Sea Lion Splash,” “Flippen Out” trampoline show, the “Puppy Pals Dog Show,” and “Johnny D Robot Ranger.” Grand Marshalls Rex and Martha Pate.
2022 – 29th TN Soybean Festival
The “Mad Hatter Tea Party” in the Children’s Library joined the Magical Martin Day fun. Auditions were held for the MMD princesses and superheroes, and the Midsouth Garrison of the 501st Legion Star Wars reenactment group made what will hopefully be the first of many appearances. With a festival history of hosting tournaments, the Gateway center added a community wide 313 card tournament. A very successful first cornhole tournament was held across from Weldon Park. The Wednesday night Faith and Community night saw a huge turn out as everything moved back to Lindell Street and included a gigantic colon to walk through. A plethora of novelty acts for the year saw the return of “Those Funny Little People,” and “Puppy Pals,” and the introduction of “Scott’s World of Magic,” the “One Wheel Wonder” show, the “Jetpack Flying Circus.” The UTM cheerleaders performed in front of the library. Performers for this year included Mike Snider, Tuesday, Daniel Doss, Wednesday, Thursday Shane Proffitt opening for Chris Jansen, Friday night “Zep LA” a Led Zepplin tribute opened for “38 Special” and Saturday, “Juke of June” opened for the much-awaited full performance of “Bohemian Queen”, a Queen tribute. The Grand Marshall was Garrett Dinning.