According to my favorite history book about Portage County, History of Portage County, Ohio, published by Werner, Beers & Co. in 1885, in 1799, Elias Harmon planted the first crop of potatoes in Mantua and the going price was 65 cents a bushel. Remember the day? I should hope not! And by 1887, 183,263 bushels was the official production count for the year.
Today, potatoes are grown commercially in every state and the number #1 vegetable crop yielding over 30 billion pounds each year. The average American eats 142 pounds every a year or almost 365 potatoes per person – a potato a day.
Portage County has always been a rich agricultural area and at one time, railroad cars loaded down with potatoes were shipped off to who knows where. Everywhere, most likely! For 30 years, potato chip companies thrived in the area and potato farmers were in their glory. In 1939, the first potato show made its debut with a focus on potato production and included a hearty potato dinner made by the Mother’s Club. The show was halted during the WWII years, but resumed again in the early ’70s and has been held each year since. Today, the focus is on the consumption of potatoes in all forms, and festival attendees can find not only the typical fried, mashed, and chips, but also lots of unusual but equally yummy breads, sweets, salads, pancakes, soups, even donuts…and probably some new yet-to-be-discovered offerings this year!
This year marks the 40th Annual Mantua Potato Festival! The weekend is packed with activities, music, contests, performances and food!! Here is the schedule of events, reprinted from their website for your convenience.
Important: Be sure to get your bake-off entries to the lodge before 4:30 p.m. on Saturday! These will be auctioned at 6 p.m.
Bake off categories include:
Appetizers ~ Soups ~ Salad ~ Dessert/Candy
Vegetable ~ Main Dish ~ Bread ~ Sweet Potato
Friday, September 6
6:00 pm Opening Ceremonies
8:00 pm Potato Chip Eating Contest – Stage II
8:00 – 11:00 pm Sobo’s – Main Stage
Saturday, September 7
8:30 am Potato Stomp (High School)
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Potato Stomp Awards
12:00 pm Corn Hole Tournament
1:30 – 4:30 pm “Get Back Band” – Main Stage
3:00 pm French Fry Eating Contest – Stage II
3:00 – 4:30 pm Bake Off Entries Due at Lodge
4:00 – 7:00 pm Balloon Art for Kids
5:00 pm Potato Sack Race – Sand Pit
6:00 pm “Big Chuck” and “Little John” – Main Stage
6:00 pm Winners of Bake-Off; Bake-Off Awards & Auction – Stage II
8:00 – Midnight Black Widow – Main Stage
Sunday, September 8
12:00 pm Open Mid-Way
2:00 pm Parade (Begins at the High School and ends at the Festival Grounds)
3:00 – 6:00 pm “Rivercity Band”
3:30 pm Presentation of Visiting Queens – Stage II
4:00 pm – Close “Billy Starrett” – Main Stage
4:30 pm Mashed Potato Eating Contest – Stage II
5:00 pm Parade Awards – Stage II
7:00 pm Main Raffle Drawing
Grand Prize: $1250.00
2nd and 3rd Prize: Basket of Gift Certificates from Local Businesses
Tickets: $1.00 each or 6 for $5.00