Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


'It's a celebration of the end of harvest.'

H&N photos by Dylan Darling
Potato Festival Queen Hannah Gallup of Lost River High School, with tiara, waves to the crowd during the parade Saturday in Merrill. With Gallup on the royalty float are Amanda Kirby of Tulelake High School and Junior Princesses Chelsea O’Grady, left, and Rachel Parks, both from Merrill Elementary School.

October 16, 2005

By DYLAN DARLING , H&N Staff Writer

MERRILL - There's so much to do with a potato.

You can mash it or smash it, bake it or barbecue it - and that's just cooking.

The tubers also can be used for art. Shape them into bunnies, with itty-bitty ears carved from one and planted atop another or paint them pink to look like pigs.

A celebration of all things potato drew people from around the Klamath Basin to Merrill Saturday.

A fun run, parade and free barbecue were just some of the draws at the 68th annual Klamath Basin Potato Festival.

”It's a celebration of the end of harvest,“ said Matt Hughes, who, along with his dog Sander, found a good seat for parade watching on a East Front Street windowsill.

Although gray clouds loomed over town early Saturday morning, sunlight broke through as the parade started to roll. There was no rain during the hour-long event, which had fire trucks, tractors and the Henley High School marching band in the line-up.

As the parade ended, two lines extended from the Lions Club barbecue shed next to the Merrill Civic Center. Lunch was on the Lions, although donations were accepted.

It’s a potato, not a pig. Critters and creatures made from potatoes won Claudette Cervantez a blue ribbon at the Klamath Basin Potato Festival.

Once their platters were packed with barbecue beef sandwiches and Klamath potatoes, festivalgoers ate in the warm civic center or found a place to plop down under the big American Flag on East Front Street and eat outdoors.

Long a tradition at the festival, the free barbecue brings a crowd.

About 1,000 people got lunch at the barbecue, said Chris Moudry, barbecue coordinator for the Lions Club. Saturday's gray weather cut the feed line a bit. Normally, about 1,300 come for food.

Recent wet weather also has affected when the potatoes are came out of the ground this year. Some farmers couldn't make the festival because they were out in the fields.

”They are still harvesting,“ Moudry said.

Nathan Hughes, a worker for Jefferson State Pumping, wore a king’s crown as he sat in front of a portable toilet throne during the parade

This year's crop is about 80 percent of the way in, he said.

Many of those who did make it to the Potato Festival were able to take time not just to enjoy a potato, be it as a treat for the taste buds or a treat for the eye, but also to enjoy the company of friends and family.

”Everybody just walks around and says hi to everyone else,“ said Neil Lieuallan of Keno.

The mingling continued inside the civic center, where winning spuds were on display with other agriculture, food and art projects.

Kristen Johnson, a second grader at Merrill Elementary, rides her bike during the parade.

Claudette Cervantez of Klamath Falls sat about ten feet from her collection of painted potatoes, creations that bridged the gap between agriculture and art.

”I love seeing the reactions to my potato people,“ she said.

They weren't just people.

A cow, an alien and a pink pig also were among the figurines that earned her a blue ribbon in the adult arts and crafts division. With potatoes at their cores, Cervantez' creations have a mixture of potato flower and Elmer's glue formed into their limbs, faces and other details.

Her inspiration comes from the spud, Cervantez said.

”If the potato looks like an animal I make it.“




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2005, All Rights Reserved