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As I See It . . .
Trust me on this one, come to the Potato Festival

Pat Ratliff Pioneer Press - October 18, 2006

Speaking of no brainers, I shouldn't have to even ask or invite you to the Potato Festival. It's a wonderful chance to come to Merrill, meet a bunch of friendly people, celebrate the harvest, and just have a great day of family fun. This year holds a lot of surprises and new events you'll be sure to not want to miss.

The 69th annual Potato Festival, presented by the Merrill Lions Club on October 19-21, will possibly be the best one ever. The Lions Club, along with countless businesses, organizations and individuals, from not only Merrill, but across the Klamath Basin, have worked tirelessly to present a not to be missed Spud Fest this year.

Thursday, October 19, kicks off the festivities with the Merrill Civic Center open to accept exhibits, commercial and group booth setups. The annual Talent Show and Banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m at Lost River High School. The six Queen Candidates, representing Lost River, Bonanza, Henley, Hosanna Christian School, Klamath Union High School and Mazama will each participate in the talent show, where they will be judged and total points added to points from an essay contest, a division for charm, poise and personality, and the sale of raffle tickets.

Following the talent show the 2006 Potato Festival Queen will be announced. A giant raffle, featuring gift certificates, gas BBQ, golfing from three different gold courses, and numerous other items will also be held at the Talent Show and Banquet.

Friday will see the Civic Center open to again accepting exhibits. Lions Club International Foundation will provide free preventative health screenings at the Merrill Civic Center for visual acuity, hearing, blood pressure, glaucoma, and diabetes screenings for adults. Diabetes screening is only available with a 3 hour fast. Children with written parental permission can receive vision and hearing exams. Sterling Savings Bank in Merrill will host a free Potato Bake with all the toppings. Exhibits and booths at the Merrill Civic Center will be open for viewing in the afternoon.

Front Street in Merrill will be a happening place all day Friday. Buck's Bakery, The Stockyard, Crown W Pottery, The Flower Spot, Fast Bob's, and Gallery 803 will all have a delightful mixture of special exhibitions, sales, raffles and wine tasting. Buck's Bakery will be exhibiting artwork by Larry Turner, Sarah Bagg, Sharon Rajnus and Walter Woodhouse. Crown W Pottery and the Waldren Gallery will host a grand opening and art exhibition, featuring custom pottery and a galley show by Diana Wunderle "Patterns of Life", featuring mixed medium sculpture and photography. Gallery 803 will be hosting a special showing. Check the Potato Festival flyer for times and detail or just come down and spend the afternoon.

Friday evening also features a Town Hall Meeting at the Merrill Elementary School at 6 p.m. where basin farmers and coastal fishermen will meet to discuss the solidarity between the groups and plans they will be working on during this devastating year for fishermen and in the future. Please come and listen and meet the coastal fishermen.

Saturday is traditionally the big day at the Potato Festival and this year will be no different. Free sight and hearing screenings, a one and five mile spud run, YMCA and Pop Warner football games, the Potato Festival Parade at 11 a.m., the Barbecue, a beer garden with local bands and a dance to finish off the day. Whew!

Is that enough to insure you come to the Merrill Potato Festival? I hope so, but if not, there is more, a lot more.

A horseshoe tournament Saturday at 10 a.m., historic film clips in the museum Saturday from 1-4 p.m., Mother Goose in the Library Saturday from 1-4 p.m., a police dunk tank Saturday from 1-4 p.m. and a huge number of both indoor and outdoor vendors will all be on hand also.

The Klamath Basin Potato Festival has been a sure thing for family fun in the basin for 69 years. Merrill Lion's Club President Bob Petrik Jr. and far too many others to list individually have made sure that this Potato Festival will quite possibly be the best ever, don't miss it! You have my personal invitation to come enjoy the Spud Fest. If you feel you may not know anyone in Merrill, that's no excuse, you know me. Just look for the fat bald guy with the camera, I'll be waiting for you. We're going to have a great time.

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