Hundreds of people packed Houlton’s Monument Park Friday night and Saturday morning for the 63rd annual Potato Day celebration.
HOULTON, Maine – The potato harvest may be weeks away, but that hasn’t stopped the Houlton community from celebrating all potatoes over the weekend.
Hundreds of people packed Monument Park Friday night and Saturday morning for the 63rd annual Potato Day celebration — which happened, ironically enough, on National Potato Day.
Organizers, who weren’t sure how many people would show up, were overwhelmed by the number of attendees. A total number was not available.
“Oh my God, where do I start? said Jane Torres, Executive Director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. “After the uncertainty of the last two years, we expected a good turnout, but the numbers exceeded our expectations.”
The Friday evening weather provided the perfect setting for the return of the popular lobster dinner, followed by a Ted and the Boys concert with Miss Emily. Concert-goers were already choosing their seats an hour before the scheduled start of the show.
“There were so many people there it was hard to find room for the candy drop, but even that was excellent,” Torres said. “The Doll Parade was actually the biggest yet with some really fancy horse-drawn carriages and wagons. Once again the Fitzpatrick-Peabody family took the subject of potatoes and raced with them.
The Lobster Dinner was another sold-out sale, with 275 Mount Desert Island lobsters sold. In addition, 250 baked potatoes were also sold.
“We got a little behind on the lobster boil because the first order was for 22 double meals that Dead River purchased as a thank you for their employees,” Torres explained. “So we started off on the wrong foot. Once these were sent, we got the orders much quicker and had them all fulfilled by 6:15 p.m. We hate to keep people waiting, but sometimes that just can’t be helped.
She added that plans are already underway to streamline the process next year, including additional pots for boiling lobsters.
On Saturday, the chamber held a busy baked potato sale in conjunction with the community market and quickly sold out.
“We baked 100 potatoes and could have sold 200,” Torres said. “When we set up the booth at 9:00 a.m. people started coming right away and we ran out at 11:30 a.m. Apparently everyone likes a loaded baked potato.
The Friends and Needles Quilt Guild also drew large crowds to the Houlton Higher Education Center for the return of their quilt show. More than 150 quilts were exhibited this year.
“Overall, it was great to see people socializing and having fun,” Torres said.