Last weekend I got together with the newly formed New Wives Club – Kristie, Megan and Bethany and myself, although Bethany could not be with us at our last meeting. As many of you may know, marriage is both fantastically exciting but very challenging. So we’re getting together for formation, accountability, friendship and of course, fun. It’s going to be fabulous. And there will likely be blogs to come on adventures with the New Wives Club….however. Today I am here to write about something I learned about last Saturday during our get together at Starbucks. Something I’d never heard of before.
Come again? No, you heard right. Potato Bowl? Potato Bowl. Po! PO-TAY-TOE!
In Grand Forks, North Dakota there is a week-long festival honoring the potato, complete with fireworks, parade, football game, 8k run & “Tator Tot Trot” plus more. Last night Josh and I had our first authentic experience of the festival: the french fry feed. And this is just any french fry feed, this is the world’s largest french fry feed, held in University Park which is just blocks away from our apartment. Here’s a little glimpse of the tent from which they serve french fries. Yes. All those people are waiting for free fries. (Click photo to visit the official Potato Bowl website, from where I got this picture.)
I read this morning that, “Over two and a half tons of french fries were served…5,010 pounds to be exact! This breaks the old record set in 2008 by 120 pounds” (potatobowl.org). Josh and I waited over an hour to get our share of that 5,000 pounds, but it was worth the experience. Families milled about the park, listening to live music and checking out the impressive collection of bouncy houses. Although the wait for fries was incredibly long, people were patiently enjoying themselves. Kids had a blast running around together and talking to Ronald McDonald. It was an evening of people watching at it’s finest. And the fries were pretty good! They didn’t give you a measly Happy Meal size portion either; each person got a full small paper basket of them. Here’s a photo to give you a better idea.
I know I could have gone to any McDonald’s drive through and got the same product, but it’s impressive to see how fast they can make these fries. Here’s a photo of the machine they use. As you can see, they continuously load boxes of frozen fries into the left end of the giant cooker. Then they bake, bake, bake along (as I presume) a belt on the inside, and pop! out the other end they come ready for consumption (scientific explanation, I know). The fries are supplied by Simplot, the local potato factory that produces 75% of McDonald’s fries.
It’s funny how when you’re from a place that has these annual festivals, it doesn’t seem unusual. Oh, it’s just the world’s largest fry feed again. No big deal. But when an outsider comes in for the experience, they’re blown away by it. I’m sure if someone from ND read this, they would just laugh at how amused I am by their tradition…but I wonder what people from North Dakota would think about Silverton, Oregon’s Homer Davenport Days? Or the Pet Parade? 🙂