As home to the giant potato and the Canadian Potato Museum, O’Leary certainly takes the potato industry seriously. That will be evident all next week during the 46th annual P.E.I. Potato Blossom Festival.
O’LEARY -- A national potato peeling team title is going to be awarded in O’Leary on Saturday, July 19.
The national championship, open to 12 teams of four, is one of the featured events of the 46th annual P.E.I. Potato Blossom Festival happening in O’Leary, July 14 to 20.
O’Leary promotes itself as the potato capital of P.E.I. and is home to the Canadian Potato Museum.
The potato peeling team championship will be held at the O’Leary Community Sports Center at 10 a.m. on July 19. John Martin is taking team entries at 859-3757.
The festival kicks off this Monday night with official opening ceremonies at the Potato Museum at 7 p.m. P.E.I. Lieutenant Governor Frank Lewis will be the guest of honour.
Coinciding with the official opening will be a soup or chowder potato recipe cook-off.
Festival chairman Eric Phillips is excited about this year’s schedule and proud of the work that the close to 20 committee members have put in getting ready for the weeklong festival. Many other volunteers are helping to ensure a successful festival, Phillips said.
The theme for the festival and the parade is, “150 Years: Potatoes Then, Potatoes Now.”
The Potato Museum, O’Leary Rink and O’Leary Legion are the main venues for the festival.
Outdoor events include the parade Saturday, July 19 at 1 p.m., the July 20 P.E.I. Washer Toss championship which will get underway in the beer garden behind the rink July 20 at noon and a car show in Centennial Park.
The Farmers’ Banquet on Friday, July 18 is one of the festival’s feature events. Several awards and recognitions will be handed out that night, and environmental scientist John Purdy will give a presentation on the Barclay Brook water-monitoring study.
Other feature events of the festival include the Little Miss and Mr. Potato Blossom Pageant July 15, the Miss Potato Blossom pageant with 14 contestants on July 17 and a youth talent search on July 16 and an adult singing contest on July 19.
The festival’s final two days are jam-packed.
Events on Saturday, July 19 include the 26th annual Memorial Spud Run at 8 a.m. followed by the opening of the Children’s Memorial Orchard, the 1 p.m. parade, kids activities at the fire hall, a Lego completion, an open arm wresting tournament at the legion and karaoke at the Legion.
The final day of the festival starts with brunch at the legion followed by the second annual Regal Cresting P.E.I. Washer Toss championship all afternoon. The event is limited to 64 teams and all entries must be phoned in to Kevin Maynard, 859-1215, no later than July 17.
While the washer toss championship uses washers, the kind that fit on bolts, organizers are also incorporating a red neck washer toss challenge whereby the person who throws a washing machine the farthest will win a 4.3 tablet.
There’s a family picnic and a car show in Centennial Park Sunday afternoon, a gospel concert with Rebel Band Youth Group and Strum Sunday evening at the Sports Center. The festival concludes with a fireworks show.