what significance does the potato have in the minds of the citizens
in Barnesville and surrounding area? So esteemed was the potato
that in a special meeting, on the 17th of June, 1938, a group of
local citizens decided to honor the potato by having a celebration
- a large celebration - tentatively to be held over the Labor Day
weekend. It fell upon the Barnesville Booster Club to determine
the exact nature of the celebration, and upon Milton Peppels’ shoulders
were placed the burden of leading this committee of planners.
Originally, it was planned to have scheduled events over a two-day
period, but it soon became apparent that it was to be a formidable
task to arrange activities for one day, much less two.
By July 28th, the schedule of events began
to take shape. The local Barnesville Booster Club overtook to
sponsor the event. Milton Peppel was designated General Chairman.
The main focus of the celebration would be a potato picking contest.
Plans were ambitious. Tentative “political” speakers
were put on the schedule throughout the day — there was a
hot governor’s race going that year and Minnesota gubernatorial
candidates Elmer Benson, Harold Stassen, Thomas Gallagher, were
all invited to speak. In addition, all the candidates for local
county offices were given the opportunity to express their respective
And what would a “Potato Days” celebration be without
a special potato recipe treat! It was decided that a prepared Norwegian
potato dish, “Potet Suppe”, would be served to all,
free of charge. (Ed. note: Rumor had it that the vote for the Norwegian “Potet
Suppe” was unanimous after someone by the name of Olaf Yenson
suggested they might serve lutefisk?) Bands, Drum and Bugle Corps,
races, merry-go-round, parades, were all arranged — it was
to be a spectacular celebration!
A sideline of the schedule of events was
proposed, that all Barnesville businessmen had to get into the
spirit by wearing “potato
sack” clothing — vest, apron, coat, trouser, made from
potato sack(s). They must wear this attire for 10 days up to and
including the day of the celebration.
The penalty for breach of this mandate
was “four-bits” fine,
levied on the first three offenses. Any subsequent breach meant
time in the “stocks”, locked up by the wrists and ankles
in a wooden frame erected on the street.
The day for the celebration of the Potato Day
# 1 was set for September 5, 1938. [more]