It was spuds, spuds, and more spuds in Richford recently. Saturday, Sept. 20 was the 22nd annual Richard Potato Festival, featuring all things potato. There was a potato eating contest, potato ice cream for sale, bags of potatoes for sale, and a potato expert on hand for a presentation, and all sorts of potato-themed activities.
The Richard Historical Society primarily organizes the festival. As town historian and Historical Society President Bill Sherwood explained, “The Historical Society puts it together and is kind of the sponsor, but then all the organizations in town participate.”
The event kicked off with a potato pancake breakfast at the Richford Fire Department from 8 to 11 a.m. At 10 a.m. the Cornell Raptors came to show off their birds of prey on the front lawn of the Richford Historical Society.
Then, at 11 a.m., Dr. Donald Halseth, a potato research at Cornell University, gave a talk about potatoes. Tammy Sherwood, who helped organize the event, explained, “He has a variety of specialty and regular potatoes that he gives out as samples. He basically discusses each type of potato in detail and sends home people with samples.” The event organizers honored Halseth with a plaque because, after 22 years of attending the Richard Potato Festival, Halseth is retiring and won’t be giving his annual potato talks anymore.
The festival included a number of awards and contests, including a pageant from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Historical Society. For the Tater Tot contest, for ages three to five, Adriana Austin nabbed first prize, while Mickenna Parker came in second and Chevelle Jackson came in third. In the Little Spud Prince contest, open to ages six to eight, 6-year-old Cole Westfall won. Ten-year-old Alisha Westfall was crowned the Potato Princess. For all of the age groups, kids were asked two questions – what they want to be when they grow up and what they would buy if they had five dollars.
In addition to the beauty pageant contest, there was a mashed potato-eating contest. For the nine to 12 age group – where contestants could use one hand – Jacob Armstrong won. For the 13 and over age group – where contestants couldn’t use either hand to eat – O’Dell Lowe won.
Throughout the day, kids colored pictures of Mr. Potato Head for a coloring contest. The judging, at 2:30 p.m., determined that Ian McKenzie of Berkshire was the winner for the two to five age group, Brooke Judson of Newark Valley was the winner for the eight to 11 age group, and Cheyanne Woodruff of Little Meadows, Pa., was the winner of the 11 and older age group.
Throughout the day, there was a book sale by the Berkshire Library on the lawn of the Historical Society, a set of historical displays inside the building, and potato ice cream and potato chips for sale. For $1, kids could ring the old school bell. Jerry Marsh, historical society member and local author, said, “I was pleased with the turnout for the bell ringers.” Also, there were building kits donated by Home Depot, so kids could build wooden birdhouses and trucks.
At the Northern Tioga Family Health Center, there was a health fair and free blood pressure checks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over at the Richford Congregational Church, there was food for sale, live music, vendors, and a quilt show. All over town, there were yard sales galore. Turnout was good despite the overcast weather and, by the end of the day, a good time was had by all.