What’s more delicious than a festival that celebrates all things potato? With a plethora of tater-themed contests, an action-packed midway, live music and plenty of spuds, the North Carolina Potato Festival, May 18-20 in downtown Elizabeth City, promises to please both your taste buds and your desire to have a good time.
“It wouldn’t be spring in Elizabeth City without the North Carolina Potato Festival,” said Deborah Malenfant, executive director of Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc., a downtown revitalization non-profit and the festival presenter. “We’re rolling out the welcome mat for visitors, vendors and neighbors to join us for three family-friendly days of rides, music, games and fun!”
What began as a simple tribute to the farmers that tend the state’s major potato-growing areas along the Albemarle Sound has grown to attract more than 35,000 celebrants annually for a weekend full of festivities. This year, festival organizers have embraced a historic theme, illustrated with a cartoon potato pirate mascot, in celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Albemarle region and the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s last excursion.
“In choosing a theme, we look for something that is meaningful for our community,” said Cindy Williams, a long-time festival volunteer. “In the past we’ve honored the openings of our Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park, Arts of the Albemarle and South Park Sports Complex. Honoring the fact this region is where North Carolina began and our rich Maritime history made sense.”
In addition to the usual fare – rides, games, food and fun – the festival will feature the Big Idaho Potato Truck for the first time, featuring a 6-ton Idaho potato. Don’t miss out on having your picture taken with this piece of pop-culture.
Here is Idaho Tater Truck Trivia:
- would take over 10,000 years to grow.
- weighs 6 tons (12,130 pounds), equaling 32,346 medium-sized Idaho® potatoes
- is 1,102 times heavier than the largest potato ever grown, which weighed 11 pounds.
- would take 2 years and 9 months to bake.
- would make 30,325 servings of mashed potatoes. Pass the gravy!
- would easily make over 1,500,000 average-sized french fries.
Great entertainment is a hallmark of the festival and this year is no different. The first night of festivities features Capitol Records artist Devon Gilfillian whose soulful style music – a powerful blend of R&B, blues, rock and gospel – has been influenced by Al Green, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix. Don’t miss his performance on Friday, May 18, 9:00 pm. On Saturday, the tunes continue with Amasa Hines, a five-piece band, whose sound is as big as their influences are wide taking the stage at 3:30 pm. Their songs are a stylized mix of soul, Afro-beat, psychedelic, blues, dub, and indie rock.
You will be able to groove on the Saturday night at Street Dance starting at 6:30 pm featuring Lucia Valentine’s unique blend of R&B and pop sound and the fun continues with the smooth cool melodies of TFC Band starting at 8:00 pm.
Other musicians to perform over the three-day event will include Elizabeth City singer/songwriter Bobby Plough (Americana); Delta Son (southern folk); Connected (jazz); PBNJ (variety band), Uphill ( swampland blues), Little Dickie & The Misfits (southern rock & country), Violet Bell (southern folk), The Wildmans (blue grass), and SaraJane McDonald & Sweetfire (country).
And don’t forget the ‘taters. In addition to nibbling on home-cooked fries, festival-goers can watch the National Potato Peeling Contest participants peel through bushels of spuds, cheer on the “Little Miss Tater Tot” contestants and tour a US Coast Guard flying fish cutter. More than 100 shopping, crafts and dining vendors will line the Main Street thoroughfare. Visitors can also view antique and new tractors in the festival’s featured tractor display and vintage automobiles at the car show.
Mark your calendars and bring your appetite! It will be a bushel of fun – all weekend long in Elizabeth City. The festival is open May 18, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; May 19, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and May 20, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information and a complete lineup of live entertainment check the festival’s Facebook page or visit www.ncpotatofestival.com.