The Portage Potato Festival is on again this year as one of the many events reconvening in this summer of back-to-normal. It's taking place August 5th and 6th.
Co-chair of the Portage Potato Festival Cindy McDonald outlines all you can expect this year.
"The 5th is kicking off just with some entertainment and beer gardens," says McDonald. "And Saturday is our big day where we have free fries, free kids activity, and free entertainment. We have vendors and we have a car show. It's just a lot of fun and a lot of things going on."
She explains this year's Potato Festival is its 18th year.
"It used to be the Strawberry Festival and that happened for many, many years," continues McDonald. "When the Strawberry Festival came to an end, because a lot of the volunteers for the Strawberry Festival just got worn out and tired, it just kind of disbanded. The city came to the chamber and said, 'You know what? We need a festival. What can you guys come up with?' The chamber, at that time in 2004, came up with the Portage Potato Festival."
McDonald says two of Portage's biggest employers are McCain and Simplot.
"It just made sense, there are a lot of potatoes grown in this area and that's how it was born back in 2004," adds McDonald. "A year later, the chamber said, 'Oh, we can't do this. We're going to give it to a volunteer committee,' and in 2005, a volunteer committee took over and the rest is history."
She says the Potato Festival has moved to many different locations over the years.
"It started off at the Avenue, then went to the island, and now we're at Rotary Republic of Manitobah Park," says McDonald. "That is our permanent home now and we are very happy about that. PRRA, which is one of our partners, is so good to us and bends over backwards to let us be there, and make things happen. We're just very thankful for that. We've been at Republic Park now for three or four years, with COVID in between."
McDonald says now is the time they're beginning to seek your help as a volunteer.
"A free festival, or any kind of festival, can't run without volunteers," notes McDonald. "So, we are putting the call out. If you have a couple hours to spare on either the 5th or 6th, we're looking for volunteers in our beer gardens, volunteers for our children, and volunteers for our parking area. Volunteers are what makes this festival happen. The committee is all volunteers and we work really hard all year. So, we need some extra people to come out and just help with some stuff. It's only a couple hours per shift, and you get to stay there and enjoy all the festivities."
You can volunteer by emailing their Gmail account - email@example.com, provide your name and what day you can volunteer, and they'd be more than happy to have you join them.