Local resident to be honored during Potato Day
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” She’s well-known, maybe some would call her infamous, for her Bush-bashing letters to the editor that appear in the local newspapers.
She’s lived over the pass, up the Crystal and Fryingpan river valleys, and been around the block a few times in Carbondale.
Since the mid-1930s, Mildred Baumli has called the area home. This weekend, she will be honored at the annual Potato Day. Baumli and Carbondale Wild West Rodeo President Dave Weimer, named 2008 Man of the Year, will be the parade grand marshals.
Potato Day has been recognized almost every year since 1909 to celebrate the Crystal River valley’s world-famous potatoes ” which were the primary cash crop in the area from the 1890s to the mid-20th century.
Although the day is now mostly about tradition, since potatoes are no longer harvested here, community members still turn out for what’s described as a hometown event featuring a pit barbecue meal, foot races, a farmers market, parade and live music.
This year’s theme is “Wide, Wide World of Spuds ” Spanning the Globe” and the 99th annual event takes place Saturday at Sopris Park. Potato Day also coincides with Roaring Fork High School’s homecoming weekend, and high school royalty and class floats will be in the parade lineup.
Xi Gamma Tau and Zeta Epsilon sororities work together to produce the event, and proceeds are granted to community nonprofits.
Xi Gamma Tau member Lynne Jammaron has been involved with organizing for about seven years. Her husband is part of the “pit crew” of men who prepare the meat, and she selects the music.
“I like that it’s small. It’s hometown and you usually know everybody. There’s a change in the weather, it’s harvest, it’s time for something new,” she says. “In our minds, everybody should be into the potato. In Carbondale, the potato is where it’s at.”
Baumli plans to make it out for a bit this year, “maybe go down and watch the parade,” she says.
She remembers when she was more involved with the day’s events, helping to prepare the meal. As she got older, she took to cooking food at home and having family over on Potato Day.
She always has loved cooking and, at the age of 92, still makes a meatloaf now and again for her daughter Jane Spaulding and prepares lunch three times a week for her other daughter, Susan Cheney.
“When I married Ed, I only knew how to bake a cake and make biscuits, so he needed something more than that,” Baumli laughs.
She moved to Colorado in 1927, lived in Marble for a few years until 1941, on a ranch up the Frying Pan (now the Cap K Ranch), and moved to Carbondale in 1956, where she’s been since.
Baumli keeps up with current events by reading the local newspapers and watching TV news shows. She is a self-proclaimed Bush-basher.
“I get mad every once in a while then I sit down and write a letter,” she says, and adds in the same breath: “It’s ridiculous the way they’re running the country.”
“She’s not afraid to speak her mind. She’s pretty famous for her letter-writing,” daughter Susan Cheney says.
Cheney is a member of Zeta Epsilon, and although she did not propose her mom be a grand marshal, she thinks Baumli is “pretty amazing.”
“She has endured some pretty tough times, growing up in the Depression and all those times. But she’s pretty strong,” Cheney says.
After Ed Baumli passed away in January 1986, Mildred helped Cheney raise her children. “She helped me with those kids, and I think that’s what kept her going as good as she has all those years. Taking care of my kids has made her vibrant,” Cheney said. “I would’ve been lost without her.”
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