The Salina Lions’ Club have chosen to honor Paul and Paula Martin of Salina as this year’s Grand Marshals for their 4th of July parade.
“The Lions Club has chosen to honor Paul and Paula Martin of Salina because Paula was very good to the Lions Club when she was working for the County, and the County was sponsoring the Balloon Festival for many years. She worked very closely with the Club in helping to get good result from our Coke trailer concessions. She worked with the Lions Club from the beginning of the Car Show. We were permitted to have a choice spot for our Coke trailer concessions, and she let us serve whatever we wanted. She has always been very cooperative with the Club and we felt we would like to honor her for her past help,” said Rodney Rasmussen, Salina Lion’s Club.
The Martins are long time residents of Salina, both having been born and raised here; in fact, Paul’s great grandfather Josiah Martin was the first mayor of the city. Despite both growing up together, the two did not connect until after high school and it was Paul’s ‘72 Nova which first attracted Paula to him.
Throughout the years the couple still has their dating car, in addition to several more, and they have spent their lives together building cars, their family, and serving the community. Their love for cars and service, along with a lot of hard work, resulted in their creation of the ‘Blast from the Past Car Show’. The annual event, spearheaded by the Martins with assistance from dedicated committee members, brings people from across the Western United States into Salina. Now in its 18th year, the two-day affair consistently fills motels the last weekend in July and local restaurants, gas stations, and vendor shops are treated to heavy traffic and a welcome boost to sales.
The Martins and their committee spend the entire year preceding the event in preparation for the two-day extravaganza, and Paula herself creates the artwork for posters, invitations, thank you notes, and trophies, skills she also used while organizing, coordinating, and successfully pulling off another famous Salina event, the Eyes to the Sky Balloon Festival.
An employee of Sevier County at the time, Paula worked hard to begin the festival and keep it in the North Sevier area, despite the push to take it to Richfield after its’ successful inception in 2008.
“It was hard to get the balloon festival going those first few years and it took a lot of blood sweat and tears, but after last weekend and seeing what it has grown into, it was all worth it,” she said. “This year’s balloon festival showed me that they’ve taken care of my baby! They brought in just what people wanted.”
In addition to the balloon festival and the car show, both of which bring business and positive attention annually to the area, Paula has been the magic behind the updating of the Sevier County Fair which, before she took over, needed an upgrade and a major facelift due to lack of participation and interest.
“Our county fair was dying and in 2007, when I was working for the county, I asked if I could take over it for a year just to see if I could turn things around,” said Paula. “That was the year we got the new fairgrounds, which we so desperately needed, and though it took a lot of time and effort, something special was begun and I’m happy to see it is still thriving. I think a county fair is so important and I could not stand the thought of Sevier County not having one! It all starts with the eight-year-old kids who show their animals, and those who make an apron or a biscuit to put in the fair and then come see if they have won a ribbon. Look what they have learned! That is the biggest reward for me in putting together these events, when people come and enjoy what we have to offer. It’s very rewarding.”
She said though it was her name on the county’s payroll when she was working so hard to make each event a successful reality, her family was right there every step of the way, and she could not have done it without them or the support of local businesses and government entities. Whether it be the balloon festival, the county fair, the car show, or any other event the family has been involved with, each requires a village to make it happen, and her family, friends, and committee members have been right by her side every step of the way as they dedicated years to bringing positive growth to the area.
“It is exciting to share your interests and things you are passionate about with the community. It is a lot of work, but when the event comes together, its success is very rewarding and brings pride not only to you personally, but to the community. The biggest reward is knowing you were part of that,” she said. “It makes you try harder to make it bigger and better for the next time!”
One of her goals throughout each social occasion was to get the public in every local community involved, for example, not just have the Sevier County Fair be a ‘Richfield’ event, but rather encompass the collective society. In doing so, life-long friends were made through each experience which have made the work required a reward.
“These people become like your family,” she said. “The balloon Meisters and pilots we’ve become close to, our car show families, and even us crazy county fair people! We have made so many great friends through our association with these different events throughout the years and that is something so special,” she said.
After 8 years of coordinating the balloon festival and 12 years of putting on the county fair, Paula took a voluntary severance package through the county to spend time with her family and chase other dreams, though the Martins have kept the car show- it wasn’t affiliated with the county, though they do help support it.
“I loved the job, but one event each year is plenty and now I can focus just on the car show,” she said.
In addition, Martins are still car crazy and take their cars to various shows throughout the state, and Paul stays busy at Martin Automotive, which will be celebrating its’ 27th year this fall. He also custom builds cars both for himself and for others, and they love chasing their two children (Malissa/Brandon, and Jordan/Krystal) and five grandchildren around.
“We’re thrilled the Lions thought to honor us as Grand Marshal,” said Paula. “Serving the community through these events was such an honor and a lot of fun. We’re humbled by the honor and thank everyone for their support of us throughout the years.”