My first Klamath Basin Potato Festival was a cold one, and I was unprepared.
That said, the crisp wind and temperatures in the 40s didn’t stop many people from lining Front Street in Merrill for the annual parade Saturday.
Who needs to go trick-or-treating when pounds of candy were tossed out of windows and off trailers from every float or car that went by? I know, I know, kids will still go trick-or-treating.
Kids raced for candy, snatching anything they could before the others. Several times, I held my breath thinking a kid was going to get pegged with a Snickers bar. Thankfully, none of them within my view succumbed to the flying candy.
A boy next to me ran out of room in his pockets and had to stuff his family member’s pockets, too. Some kids even snagged soccer balls from a NAPA Auto Parts truck as they hucked them out the window for kids to scramble for like a foul ball into the stands at a baseball game.
Other kids kicked up the cuteness meter dressed as potatoes. When I heard some would do this, I pictured kids wearing burlap sacks. But boy, was reality even better. In their cute little brown outfits with giant googly eyes and pipe cleaner eyelashes I was starting to get the hype for this celebration of such a humble vegetable.
I have to say I was impressed with the parade float of square dancers — dancing on a moving trailer that didn’t look particularly steady. In the cramped space of the trailer they stayed coordinated and consistently found a partner. Kudos to the Klamath Country Squares.
The royalty float featured the 2019 Potato Queen, Miss Tulelake, Briseyda Chavolla, crowned last Friday night.
They were followed by a vintage tractor from the Butte Valley Museum of Dorris, with a tall American flag attached to it.
Another element of the festival that impressed me was the size and appearance of the potatoes and pumpkins entered for prizes. I saw some of the biggest potatoes and pumpkins I’d ever seen in person. I wouldn’t even know where to start to grow such behemoths.
The barbecue, with a baked potato on the side of course, was yummy, and it felt as though the entire town of Merrill came out to stand in lines that pitched a corner against Walt Wilson Hall filled by exhibitors.
The old country music from The Stukel Mountain Stranglers and Friends while I ate my barbecue brought my day at my first potato fest to a wholesome close.
Thank you, Merrill and the Klamath Basin Potato Festival for community fun.