Saturday, September 23, 2017

Spud Festival and Learning About Idaho Potatoes

We love to go to local festivals, and our timing was perfect to go to the Idaho Spud Festival just 30 miles away from where we were camping! We got there in time for a chilly parade. You've got to figure that's a big potato when it's classified as an "oversize load."

We took pictures later with that big old spud. This truck and trailer make their way across the United States advertising the goodness of Idaho potatoes. We are here on a mission in Shelley, Idaho, to see if it is true.

The parade was at 10:00, and we were wearing our biggest coats and gloves because it was chilly outside. The school mascot is the fighting spud, and he was dancing his way down Main Street among the band to keep warm today.

No festival is complete without a beauty pageant. Meet the Russet Queen and her court.

There were trucks and tractors in the parade, but the most colorful parade participants were the Indian dancers from the Fort Hall reservation just down the road.

We like a good parade with tasty give-aways. Lots of candy was thrown to the crowd, but these special treats were hand-delivered by walkers going up and down the street. This candy bar is made in Boise, Idaho. It's shaped like a spud and the wrapper proudly proclaims that it is "the candy bar that makes Idaho famous."

As soon as the parade was over, the entire crowd moved to the park across the street. We had talked to the locals during the parade, so we knew to line up for the free loaded baked potatoes being prepared by volunteers.

This looks like a great lunch! It was a free meal day, as we would also enjoyed the free Chick-fil-a sandwich, compliments of the local restaurant.

Besides a park-full of local vendors and food trucks, we were glad to see that there were potato-centered events throughout the day. We watched the toddler version of potato-picking. Each 2-3 year-old had a pile of potatoes. The winner is the first one to transfer all those potatoes into their basket. There were plenty of "coaches/photographers" in the arena with them, and lots of loving cheers from the crowd.

This was really cute to watch, but the competitions got stiffer as the participants got older. The number of potatoes gets bigger, and they must be put into potato bags as the age groups moved up to include the adults.

We didn't stay for all the events, but there were also potato sack races, and the climax of the day--a tug-of-war over a pit filled with mashed potatoes. We love a good festival that includes its signature crop so completely in the day's events! There was also entertainment on the stage during the day--including a guy that brought his exotic pets for the crowd to enjoy. We're not sure that the volunteers he brought up on stage were enjoying this albino python so much.

Since we are living in Idaho, it was time to learn a little about the potatoes that make this state famous. The potato fields are beautifully green around us now. We found out that many school districts close down the last week of September and the first week of October for potato harvest.

We also see the long sheds found at most farm houses. These are used for storing the potatoes after harvest.

It's always fun to explore a new part of the country, and to be immersed in the local culture. Good job Shelley, Idaho, on a day of potato fun!

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