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The perfect day for a Potato

Merrill celebrates 71st annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival

By Lee Juillerat, Herald and News October 19, 2008  

< Emily O’Connor, right, serves a baked potato Saturday at the Klamath Basin Potato Festival in Merrill. She was helped on one of three serving lines by Denise Woodhouse and Marla Gasser.

   MERRILL — Spudtacular weather helped lure crowds to Saturday’s 71st annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival in Merrill. 

   “Everybody seemed to have a good time and it was a beautiful day,” said Larry Paschke, one of the parade organizers. 

   “A lot of people put in a lot of time putting this together,” said Chris Moudry. 

   Moudry and James Baird coordinated the traditional barbecue, both for the 29th straight year. 

   More than 1,500 enjoyed a free barbecue that included pit barbecued beef sandwiches, milk and, naturally, baked potatoes. 

   “It always depends on the weather,” Moudry said of attendance at the barbecue, which last year served about 1,200 people in semi-stormy weather. “We pretty much maxed out.” 


< Enjoying their day in the sun were Potato Festival Princess McKenzie Masten, left, and Queen Stephanie Matheson.

   The meal was preceded by the parade, where grand marshal Ruby O’Neil and the queen and her court took the traditional two laps around the parade route. 

   That was special fun for Stephanie Matheson, who had been crowned queen at Thursday night’s coronation banquet. 

   “It was really cool because I’ve been coming to these festivals since I was a little girl,” said the 17-year-old Matheson, a senior at Henley High School. 

   Festival court 

   She was joined on the festival court float by Princess McKenzie Masten, a 17-year-old Bonanza High School senior. Both Masten and Matheson plan to attend the University of Oregon, with Matheson majoring in political science or journalism and Masten in graphic arts design. 

   Others on the court float included Clarissa Evans of Mazama, Kathleen Porter of Klamath Union, Brianne Elliott of Triad and Whitney King of Lost River. The competition was based on ticket sales, talent, essay writing, and poise and personality. 

   Riding along with the court were junior princesses Bethany Petrik and Gabby Haskins. 

   “The parade went real well,” Paschke said. “Everybody seemed to have a good time, and it was a beautiful day.” 

   “Everybody did what they were supposed to do and the crowd responded,” said Bill Moore, president of the Merrill Lions Club, which sponsors the festival. “Very tickled.”

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