This year’s Potato Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it’s a community event steeped—or should we say “baked”—in local tradition.
The success of this event, and Colorado’s local love for baked potatoes, dates as far back to the late 19th century when potatoes earned their place as one of Greeley’s top crops. It became the region’s most important commercially distributed crop… and to celebrate, the first Potato Day was held in Lincoln Park on Oct. 18, 1894.
That year, Greeley citizens paid homage to “king spud” and a huge array of other crops grown in the Greeley district, by transforming Lincoln Park into an agricultural pavilion. It’s on record that 6,000 people were in attendance for the very first Potato Day event.
Fast forward to nearly a hundred years later. In 1986, Centennial Village celebrated its 10th anniversary and a group of friends—Florenz Hinz, Floris Mikkelson, Shirley Brand, Warren Holm, Joyce Carr, Marie Wilkinson and other museum volunteers, created a non-profit organization, the Friends of the Greeley Museums. The group’s goal was to recruit volunteers and raise money to support the preservation and educational programs at the City of Greeley Museums. To them, a fall harvest festival at Centennial Village seemed like a great fundraising idea and the “Friends” held their first Potato Day on Sept. 26, 1987.
In fact, the Friends group has been responsible for donating over $300,000 to various City of Greeley Museum projects over the years. To this day, the group still hosts the annual Potato Day event—with a little help from a few of the original event planners—and proceeds continue to be used in support of museum preservation and programs.
To this day, Potato Day is an annual community favorite featuring musical entertainment, living history demonstrations, historic house tours and children’s games and activities galore. Last year, a used book sale was added to the fundraising part of the event and it will be part of this year’s event as well.
Admission to the 2017 event is $7 per person and the cost includes the day’s planned activities in addition to a delicious baked potato with toppings. Additional food and beverages are available and there will be a beer garden in the Friends of the Greeley Museum’s pavilion, located just south of the museum’s Hall House, with featured craft brews on tap from Crabtree Brewing.
For more information about the 2017 Potato Day and a map to the museum, visit GreeleyMuseums.com/Potato-Day.