HOULTON, Maine — In Aroostook County, August means a trip to the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle, back-to-school shopping and Potato Feast Days in Houlton.
The 51st annual celebration to laud the area’s most famous cash crop begins today and wraps up Sunday.
“We have a lot of events planned this year,” Lori Weston, executive director of Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday. “It is really going to be a jam-packed weekend.”
Potato Feast Days is a summer staple in Houlton, drawing crowds into the downtown area, where the bulk of the events are held. All of the customary events, including the ladies’ potato-peeling contest, the children’s coin scramble, the Mr. Potato Head decorating contest and the potato salad contest, will be held this year, as will several new activities.
Events kick off today with the parade of dolls and wagon wranglers, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Chamber building in Market Square. The coin scramble will be held after the parade. One of the newer events to the fete, the Touch-a-Truck event, will run from 4 to 6 p.m. on Broadway Street in the downtown. Every-one is invited to come look at the classic autos.
The bulk of the events will be held on Saturday. The town’s Community Market will be set up in the downtown that morning, offering patrons a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, jams, jellies, jewelry and other goods.
For the first time, the band Head Space will perform 1-4 p.m. in Monument Park during the Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday. The fair is held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Potato games for children will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in Monument Park, including potato sack races, the hot potato game and more.
The Church of the Good Shepherd will sponsor its annual pie and ice cream social from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Watson Hall.
The Houlton Fair Association will sponsor All-Cylinders Saturday in Community Park. Events will be held all day. A car and motorcycle show will begin at 11 a.m., and other events including the Rave X flying snowmobile jumping show, stunt motorcycles, barbecue and a performance by the band Live Music at 8 p.m. in the Millar Civic Center will be held.
On Sunday, the Potato Feast Road Rally begins at 1 p.m.
“This has really become a popular event,” Weston said Thursday. “We doubled our participation last year, and I am hoping we can do the same this year.”
Registration for the rally runs from noon to 1 p.m. at the Millar Civic Center. There is a $10 entry fee per vehicle with cash prizes to be awarded.
Weston noted that a major Potato Feast Days draw is the annual Friends and Needles Quilt Show, which begins at 9 a.m. today and ends at 4 p.m. Sunday, at the Houlton Elks Club. It will feature the 2010 “Raffle Quilt,” which visitors have a chance to win. Since it is made with Aunt Grace Authentics fabrics, the guild, whose members made the quilt, has named it “Aunt Grace’s Apron.”
Another highlight of the show will be the exhibit of a unique mixed technique quilt by Laura Peterson called “The Quilt Show.”
The show also will offer a silent auction featuring wall hangings, bags, table runners and more.
Admission will be $5.
Weston said the new features have drawn more people to the event over the past few years.
“This is a really great time to have it because school is about to start so people are in town again,” she said. “This is kind of a last hurrah before school starts and there are lots of events for children and adults, and families can attend it without having to pay a lot of money as most of the events are free.”