Pa­rade hon­ours hum­ble spud

Streets lined with spec­ta­tors for the Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY DE­SIREE ANSTEY

De­spite the bak­ing tem­per­a­tures, thou­sands lined the pa­rade route on Satur­day for the Potato Blos­som Pa­rade in O’Leary.

Fire trucks, trac­tors, mini cars, sports cars, an­tique cars, and fan­ci­ful floats rolled through the heart of O’Leary to cel­e­brate the potato in­dus­try, as well as take pride in re­cently be­ing named Kraft Hock­eyville cham­pi­ons.

Su­san Shea, chair­woman of the Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val, says the potato in­dus­try is imbed­ded in his­tory.

“We are sur­rounded by potato farm­ers and a lot of peo­ple in this area make their liveli­hoods from grow­ing pota­toes.” Shea said. “And it’s great to have events like this be­cause it brings out the com­mu­nity

spirit and draws peo­ple to­gether.”

P.E.I. is Canada’s largest potato pro­ducer. Hard work is at the root of in­hdus­try suc­cess, il­lus­trat­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of in­dus­try­driven col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“The bread and but­ter of our busi­ness is build­ing potato han­dling equip­ment and the pa­rade gives us an op­por­tu­nity to show­case this equip­ment, and a lot of farm­ers sup­port us,” said Steven

Ste­wart, of H.F. Ste­wart, a man­u­fac­turer of potato han­dling equip­ment based in O’Leary.

Ste­wart has been in the potato in­dus­try like his fa­ther since 1989. It’s rooted in their blood, like many Is­lan­ders. “It’s all a fam­ily thing,” he added.

Rochelle Keough, or­gan­iser of the Potato Blos­som Pa­rade said, “We had 38 floats reg­is­tered, but more showed up on the day.”

High­lights of the fes­ti­val in­cluded

a Farm­ers Ban­quet, which served more than 200 farm­ers and their fam­i­lies, Memo­rial Spud Run, pageants, Na­tional Potato Peel­ing Cham­pi­onship, and a street hockey game with a celebrity.

Ot­tawa Se­na­tor de­fence­men Dion Pha­neuf came to sign au­to­graphs and par­tic­i­pate with en­thu­si­as­tic kids in game of street hockey on Main Street.

The 49th Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val kicked off July 17 and wrapped up on Sun­day.

“It takes a tremen­dous amount of vol­un­teers to run this fes­ti­val and I want to send a big shout out to them for all their help, and also our spon­sors be­cause with­out them we wouldn’t be able to put on this on.”

DE­SIREE ANSTEY/JOUR­NAL PIONEER

P.E.I. Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val brought out the com­mu­nity spirit in O’Leary on Satur­day with a fun-filled pa­rade. “We had 38 floats reg­is­tered, but more showed up on the day,” said Rochelle Keough, or­ga­nizer of the Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val Pa­rade. The com­mu­nity first cel­e­brated the Potato Blos­som Fes­ti­val in 1968, and since then it has been honour­ing this world-class crop ev­ery year with the high­light of the event be­ing a big pa­rade.

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