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Published August 19, 2012, 11:30 PM

Barnesville prepping for Potato Days

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – Barnesville, population 2,500, will welcome an estimated 19,000 people this weekend to its annual Potato Days Festival.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – Barnesville, population 2,500, will welcome an estimated 19,000 people this weekend to its annual Potato Days Festival.

“We know that it’s going to be as big as we’ve had in the past, so it should be a really good time,” said Theresa Olson, festival director.

The small town 25 miles southeast of Fargo, well-known for its potato production, will celebrate the starchy staple on Friday and Saturday.

Friday’s activities kick off with the Kiddie Parade at 10 a.m. and close with a teen dance starting at 8 p.m.

Day two opens with a pancake feed – of the potato variety, of course – at 7 a.m. and ends with a street dance featuring west-central Minnesota rock band Nasty Habit.

“They’re 20-hour days for me, but it’s a lot of fun,” said Olson, who works year-round on festival preparations and who will start planning the next one as soon as it’s over.

At 6 p.m. Friday, little girls who live within a 20-mile radius of Barnesville will compete in the Miss Tater Tot Contest Pageant on the main stage.

“It’s the cutest little thing you’ve seen,” Olson said.

The 5- and 6-year-olds model “dress” attire, then garments made from potato sacks and answer simple, fun questions like, “If you could go on vacation, where would you go?”

Sometimes the mini-Miss Americas give the audience entertaining responses. “Moms and dads are just dying in the crowd,” Olson said with a laugh.

This year’s featured event is the Fireman’s Demolition Derby at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the fairgrounds.

“We get a packed house for that,” she said.

Try your hand at contests such as potato picking, potato peeling, mashed potato sculpture or mashed potato wrestling.

If by day two you need a break from potatoes, head to Hildebrand Hall between 2 and 4 p.m. for the Chocolate Festival, an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord including brownies, cake and chocolate-covered potato chips.

Of course, there’ll also be smoothies, ice cream, pork or beef sandwiches, hamburgers, frybread tacos, potato pancakes, dumplings, Norwegian lefse, french fries, mashed potatoes and gravy and potato sausage to choose from.

“Everyone has their favorite (food item),” Olson said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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