PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — This year’s marigold festival grand marshal reflects on his decades spent in the Pekin community.

Jim Fairchild said he’s proud of the honorary title.

“Becoming the Grand Marshal is very humbling to me,” said Jim Fairchild. “I didn’t feel like that was something I deserved at all. Also, if people feel like I’ve helped them that’s humbling to me also.”

Fairchild epitomizes this year’s theme: “Back In Time – 50-Years of Marigold Memories.”

“The theme is centered around the essence of traveling back in time and taking a trip down memory lane,” said Brandon Burling, 2022 Pekin Marigold Festival Chairperson. “With this being the 50th Festival, we want Pekin residents and general Festival goers to recollect their favorite Marigold Memories that embodies what this Festival is all about. Sharing moments that they will never forget, while also creating new ones for years to come.”

Fairchild moved to the city in 1969 and began teaching at the high school. That lasted for 41 years, all while driving a school bus for 39 of those.

“I absolutely loved almost every day that I taught, and then the last 14 years I taught as a counselor,” said Fairchild. “That was great for me because it totally changed my job and I never burned out as a teacher and I kept teaching summer school after that.”

He also spent 18 summers as an ironworker and worked with detasseling crews.

Even in his retirement, Fairchild’s still active by working at Preston-Hanley Funeral Home.

This year’s festival chairperson said Fairchild’s dedication to the city and its people shows a true commitment to Pekin.

“It really just makes complete sense that when you think about the Marigold memories and the memories that this Grand Marshal brings,” said Marigold Festival Chairperson Brandon Burling. “It’s just fitting.”

The Marigold Festival is hosted by the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce.

It runs September 8 through the 11.

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