When the 2014 Marion Popcorn Festival Orville Redenbacher Parade steps off at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 4, a well-known radio personality will be at its helm. Hall-of-fame broadcaster Charlie Evers has been tapped as the 2014 Grand Marshal.
“Fair and warmer” is the way Evers has responded to the question “How are you?” for most of his life. Originally from Bucyrus, Evers began his radio career at Marion’s WMRN in 1949 when they hired him to watch their tent at the Crawford County Fair. He held a variety of jobs throughout his years at WMRN, including clean up, set up and tear down at area fairs and remotes, night watchman, even mowing the station’s lawn.
Evers’ dedication in aiding the station’s engineers eventually earned him that position, and then in 1968 he became an on-air personality. Thus began a career that drew listeners to love him and a host of activities to benefit the Marion area.
Challenged by a listener to push a peanut across the street with his nose in the early 70s, Evers began the WMRN Peanut Push – a legacy that still takes place on the first Saturday of December to raise money for the Junior Service Guild’s Christmas Clearing House.
Although Evers never lived on a farm, he became the station’s Farm Director in 1971 and eventually earned a state farmer’s degree. This drew him to chair a fundraising effort in 1978 that garnered $80,000 to rebuild a livestock arena destroyed by fire on the Marion County Fairgrounds … an arena that still today continues to bear his name.
For years, Evers would daily check the groundhogs in the woods next to the station to see if they were indeed out for Groundhog’s Day. Gaining listener interest, a contest was held to name Marion’s groundhog and the winning name was Buckeye Chuck … “Buckeye” for Ohio and “Chuck” as a play on woodchuck (another name for a groundhog) and “Chuck” Evers. This further led to a campaign aided by former state representative Walter “Doc” McClaskey to have Buckeye Chuck named the state groundhog in 1979.
In 1980, Evers also fronted a successful effort to track down Marion County’s missing Lady Justice and return it to its rightful place atop of the Court House dome.
Evers left WMRN in 1980 and went to WDIF where he led tours all over the country through a travel agency the station worked with. Later, he also did a morning show on WDCM, and now has a weekly call-in show on WWGH. “It’s an open call-in format,” said Evers. “Just call 740-383-9944 … I still love to talk to people.”
When asked about being named the grand marshal, Evers said, “I was surprised, excited … I just couldn’t believe it. I have a great affinity for the Popcorn Festival because of the Popcorn 100 bike tour. That’s where I got my biking start that eventually led to Bike Across Ohio.” Bike Across Ohio was another Evers endeavor which raised charitable funds for cancer.
Evers, who will be 80 later this month, says he’s led a full and interesting life. “I’m slowing down a little now,” said Evers, “but I keep busy doing the Colonial Reenactments making split-wooden shingles on a device that is over 200 years old.”
Evers has three daughters, Cathy, Angie and Amy, and eight grandchildren. He and his wife, Jeanne, live in eastern Marion County.
“We are truly honored,” said Mary Dutton, Marion Popcorn Festival Parade Chairman, “to have this man who has dedicated so many years to our community as our grand marshal. I hope the thousands lining the parade understand just how much this man has given of himself to Marion.”