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