Carbondale plays hostto 95th Potato Day
CARBONDALE – One of the oldest fall harvest festivals in Colorado, Potato Day, celebrates its 95th run in Carbondale on Saturday.The one-day festival honors Carbondale’s former claim to fame, the potato, which was the primary cash crop in the area from the 1890s to the middle part of the 20th century, even rivaling the famed Idaho potato: “The world-famous Carbondale Potato, second to none other in the United States, is raised here,” the Carbondale Item newspaper proclaimed in 1899.The town celebrated its first Potato Day in 1909.”At first, the celebration was free and featured roasted meat and cream-style potatoes in the skin, all prepared by area ranchers and farmers,” Paul Anderson and Ken Johnson wrote in the 1998 book “Elk Mountains Odyssey.””Starting Friday night, an oak fire heated a huge barbecue pit,” the book continues. “Beef was seasoned with sauce and wrapped in cloth, burlap and poultry wire, and when the heat was just right the meat was dumped into the hot coals. The pit was covered with iron doors and eight inches of soil, so any seeping smoke betrayed a flaw in the air-tight seal need for a good barbecue. Eighteen hours later, the beef was cooked to delectable tenderness and ready for the celebration supper.”Many of those same traditions continue today, right down to the barbecue methods.Local farming and ranching families kept the festival’s tradition alive through the years even after the potato industry had ceased. In 1994, the local Zeta Epsilon and Xi Gamma Tau sororities took over organization of the event, and for many years the festival has coincided with Roaring Fork High School’s homecoming weekend.This year’s Potato Day theme is “The Magic of Spuds.””We always have a brainstorm session with the two sororities, and try to come up with something fun that we think people will be able to do something with for the parade; dressing up, and getting creative with floats,” said Potato Day committee member Lynn Jammaron.Potato Days will also feature Bareback Bonanza events including poles and barrels competitions, and the ever-popular greased pig chase. The Tater Trot 5K fun run and race begin at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Carbondale town pool on Main Street. Pre-registration is $15 at the Red Rock Diner, or $20 in the park starting at 7:30 a.m. on race day. Entry includes a T-shirt and postrace prize drawing, and proceeds benefit the Carbondale Youth Soccer Club.Several other events are planned around Potato Day, including the Carbondale Public Art Commission’s unveiling of the new sculptures on Main Street, starting with an artists reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Village Smithy, and the sculpture walk at 6:30 p.m.The Carbondale Rotary Club also has a fund-raiser screening of Tom Mix’s silent film “The Great K&A Train Robbery” at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at the Crystal Theatre. Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Information: 963-3136.The Carbondale Rotary Club also has a fund-raiser screening of Tom Mix’s silent film “The Great K&A Train Robbery” at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at the Crystal Theatre. Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Information: 963-3136.
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