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This spud's for you

Potatoes the star at Ag Center Spudfest

Potatoes the star at Ag Center Spudfest

August 28, 2005|By TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY


One potato, two potato, three potato - more!

Potatoes were everywhere Saturday during the third annual Spudfest at the Washington County Agricultural Educational Center on Sharpsburg Pike. Potatoes were being harvested. They were being sliced and deep-fried for chips. And they were being used by children to stamp designs on paper bags.

"We wanted to do something for the kids," said Frank Artz, president of the Friends of the Rural Heritage Museum at the ag center. So for the past three years, the museum friends have been helping "the kids" celebrate the merits of that noble vegetable, the potato.

Preparation for the festival began in the spring, when volunteers helped a group of about 40 children plant potatoes in the museum garden.

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"We planted about 100 pounds of potatoes last spring," Artz said.

And children helped harvest the potatoes Saturday morning. Artz was busy slicing a few products of the harvest as he was talking.

"We got 'em all sizes," he said.

He could have been talking either about the potatoes or the harvesters, the youngest of whom was 8-month-old Jonathan Butler, who crawled around in the garden as the spuds were being pulled from the ground. The oldest participant was 77-year-old Ralph Pollen.

"You'd be surprised how many kids are interested in where the potatoes come from and how potato chips are made," special events coordinator Velma Poffenberger said. "We had at least 100 kids down there (harvesting) today."

The festival itself, she said, gets bigger every year.

Darc Easton organized children's activities for the day; she had them busy with spud stamps, decorating paper bags for potato chips - or other things.

To get the designs, Easton sliced the potatoes in half, then made impressions with cookie cutters. After trimming around the design with a paring knife, she had the youngsters press the potatoes onto an ink pad so they could stamp their bags.

Elizabeth Schwartz, 6, of Hagerstown, stamped several designs on her bag. Her favorite? "The heart. Because it stands for love."

Afterward, she planned to take a ride on a tractor.

"The fascination of it is I just love watching the looks on the kids' faces," Easton said.

Speaking of faces, she had made an authentic potato head - with cloves poked in for eyes and a nose.

"Elbow macaroni makes neat ears," she said.

Organizers honored harvesters with "special" spuds. Spenser White had the smallest; Hannah Woods found the biggest. Valerie Mills had the "strangest."

"It was two-headed," museum volunteer Marge Peters said.

Lloyd Mills collected the most potatoes.

More children's activities are planned for the Rural Heritage Museum, Easton said. The Friends plan a children's corner in the museum, which should be ready next spring, she said, where children can learn the fine arts of spool, knitting and yo-yo quilting.

"I'm the kid who never grew up," she said. "Today, we're playing with potatoes."

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