By Gretchen Wehmhoff
When the Idaho Potato Commission’s Tater Team contacted Skagway, their plan was to bring their giant potato campaign to a decent sized town in Alaska that they could drive to. Taking a giant potato on a long bed semi truck down the Klondike Highway was probably just small potatoes to Tater Team driver Melissa, aka Spud Racer, who had been driving the team for four years.
Tourism Director Jamie Bricker and Mayor Andrew Cremata decided to take advantage of the visit.
“I talked to Jamie and I’m like we’re gonna go big. So instead of just having them show up with a potato truck and go to the Blues, Brew & BBQ, let’s have a parade, let’s declare a festival, let’s go hog wild — let’s have a potato king and queen,” Cremata said.
Bricker made sashes for the potato royalty and Cremata created scepters with a large Russet potatoes jabbed onto a wooden dowel. Idaho born twins Cory Bricker and Cody Bricker Jennings became the first Potato King and Queen. They, and others, rode down Broadway on the large truck with the enormous sculptured potato.
“When we turned on to Broadway on the giant potato it was like the Fourth of July, there must have been 2,000 people out there. It was crazy,” Cremata said, “It was overwhelmingly awesome. The parade was super fun.”
After the parade, the truck parked at Seven Pastures where the Skagway Arts Council’s Annual Blues, Brew & BBQ festival was in motion.
The concert kept the stage busy with different blues artists. Local vendors such as Lucy’s, Peppers and The Station provided food, most with some sort of potato theme.
About mid-concert, Spuddy Buddy, the potato mascot, exited the traveling potato and spent the evening greeting children and posing for photos.
The weather dropped some rain on the event, but the music never stopped. Cremata was impressed with the line-up.
“Probably the best one in my opinion. It was pretty much all blues. I mean, it was really good music from start to finish,” he said.