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Community rallies to make sure Manhattan Potato Festival takes place

Posted at 10:07 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 12:07:41-04

MANHATTAN — Every year in late August, the Manhattan Potato Festival brings a big crowd to the Little Apple to celebrate the community with a fireman’s breakfast, parade, and of course lots of potatoes. Which why when residents heard the festival would be canceled knew they had to take some action.

“I think it’s just like the entire community coming together as one. The hometown feeling and reuniting with friends and the street dance and the firemen’s breakfast. It was just always something that everyone looked forward to in Manhattan,” said Chelle White.

When Churchill resident Lori Myers heard the 35th annual Potato Festival would be canceled, she went right to work.

“I just said 'oh no this can’t happen', I had to step forward and do something,” said Myers. “It has been put on by the Chamber in years past, and for whatever reasons, they just felt like they couldn’t do it and continue on so we just wanted to pick up the ball.”

That means gathering volunteers, finding vendors and sponsors, as well as tackling the logistical challenges that come along with organizing such a large event.

Down the road at the White Family’s Potato Farm, they’re excited to know one of the town’s favorite traditions is being kept alive. Matt White, who’s a third-generation farmer, says it's great for all farmers in the area, as well as local businesses.

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Chelle White says it's all about showing support for the community.

“I think it’s just like the entire community coming together as one. The hometown feeling and reuniting with friends and the street dance and the firemen’s breakfast. It was just always something that everyone looked forward to in Manhattan,” said Chelle White.

Last year, the event was canceled due to COVID-19 and many potato farmers in the area and beyond felt the ripple effects of restaurant restrictions and shutdowns in 2020, which threw many farming and ranching businesses into a tailspin.

The Whites say after such a challenging year, they’re thrilled to see traditions staying alive. “I’m excited that we can be part of it. I’m excited that someone was will to step up because it is a huge event. And it’s gotta take more planning than I can even imagine,” said White.

“We are so excited. So excited,” said Myers. “And there’s a lot of fresh energy and new ideas and we want to keep it as close to traditional as possible, but at the same time we want to add some exciting new things.”

Click here to learn more about the festival.

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