Carbondale’s oldest festival, Potato Day, celebrates 110 years on Saturday
Celebrating over a century of tubers, Carbondale’s Potato Day celebration returns Saturday for the 110th installment with a “Ghosts of Potato Days Past” theme.
The town’s oldest festival, which began in the early 20th century, was a time for the community to come together following its annual potato harvest.
“All of the ranchers around here and farmers who grew potatoes, they lived in outlying areas,” Carbondale Historical Society President Sue Gray said.
“When everybody harvested their potatoes they would put them on their wagons and bring them into town to load into storage to later put on the trains.”
The ranchers and farmers also took the time to enjoy a picnic that included barbecued beef roasted in a pit — and plenty of potatoes.
“We are going to have barbecued beef that is provided by a local rancher, Nieslanik Beef, and we’ll have the potatoes that will be baked,” Gray said.
“There will be a vegetarian potato bar for those who don’t eat meat and there will be a little coleslaw and beans to go with that and some rolls.”
According to Gray, festivalgoers will consume nearly 300 pounds of russet and Yukon gold potatoes at this year’s Potato Day.
Proceeds from the $10 plate lunch will go to the Carbondale Historical Society.
“We were one of the biggest growers of potatoes in the United States back in the early 1900s,” Gray said. “We picked the theme, ‘Ghosts of Potato Days Past,’ so that we could educate some of our community members about how the town of Carbondale was formed and by whom.”
Beginning at 9 a.m. festivalgoers may enjoy a farmers and craft market in Sopris Park followed by the Potato Day parade, which kicks off at 10:30 a.m. The parade also doubles as the Roaring Fork High School homecoming parade.
The parade forms along Second Street and then travels down Main Street before concluding at Sopris Park.
Additionally, live music featuring local singer-songwriter Wes Engstrom will begin at 11:30 a.m. in Sopris Park. Pam and Dan Rosenthal will perform their brand of Americana beginning at 1 p.m. and Tami Suby and numerous local student musicians will conclude the Potato Day live music schedule with a performance slated to begin at 2 p.m.
“It’s one of my favorite events of the year,” Gray said. “Just like in the old days when it was first celebrated, it’s a chance for me to see all of my friends and neighbors and have a big party together.”
The Potato Day festival ends at 3 p.m.
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Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs will present an interactive webcast, “Extreme Fire,” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday as part of its free speaker series, The Gift of Education.