MARION — Drinks, food and putt-putt. All are included in a four-hour event, which takes place Saturday in six locations in downtown Marion.

The event is hosted by Marion Main Street, and is called Marion Main Street Open. Participants will move from six different restaurants, trying up to three appetizers and one drink and attempting to make a putt on a custom-made putt-putt hole, Marion Main Street President Chris Blue said.

Bennies Italian Foods, Miss Emily's Cathouse, India Delight, Marion Elks, Martini Joe's, and John Browns on the Square are all hosts for the event.

The event is $50. The appetizers, drink tickets and a T-shirt are included in the admission cost. Blue said participants are encouraged to purchase other items if they choose.

Tickets can be purchased at all of the participating locations, or online at facebook.com/MarionMainStreet.

“The whole idea is to, on a Saturday afternoon, getting 50 people together and going to a restaurant,” Blue said. “Several people coming will probably bring their spouses or other people, so there may be more than 50.”

The event kicks off at 1 p.m. at Bennie’s. Blue said the organization has sold about 50 tickets already, and there are 12 left as of Tuesday. That also gets participants into the putt-putt tournament.

Blue said this isn’t going to be a one-time thing — he would like to continue this event each year. The idea came about when the planning team wanted to do something similar to a pub crawl, and somebody said they saw something similar in Springfield. Then, the organization planned and put the event together in about a month.

“Our goal is to get people downtown,” Blue said. “People downtown having fun means they are helping those businesses.”

He said most of the businesses in downtown Marion are doing well without such an event, but the organization is continuing to push people near the town square.

“We want to continue to fill up those streets downtown and hopefully get more businesses down there,” he said.

Many business owners and managers are welcoming of the events and like to see the different establishments working together to keep a strong downtown focus.

“It is a nice way to get all of the restaurants involved downtown, and it is a nice boost of business,” Aaron Ketner, Bennie’s manager, said.

Miss Emily’s Cathouse Manager Tabatha Owens said the event is more or less about bringing people together. She said 50 or more people who may not know one another supporting the square is what the business owners in the area like to see.

“We should do more to get people downtown and enjoy this atmosphere,” she said.

Owens also said it will bring some business that those establishments may not normally see, and it will be exposure to some customers who are unfamiliar with those companies.

John Brown, owner of John Brown’s on the Square, loves the idea, saying any time people are floating around the downtown area, it is a win.

“The more the better as long as everybody is staying downtown, I don’t care how we do it,” he said. “It is a great thing to keep focused on downtown Marion.”

dustin.duncan@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

on twitter: @zd2000

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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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