Parade honours humble spud
Streets lined with spectators for the Potato Blossom Festival
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.”
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.