A new festival in Blezard Valley will celebrate the region's most versatile and economically important crop: the potato.
The first Spuds from Suds potato festival will take place at the Valley Growers farm, located at 2960 Martin Rd., on Saturday Sept. 13.
The festivities — which will feature everything from farm tours to potato sack races — will begin at 10 a.m. and are expected to end at 4 p.m.
Leanne Lavoie, executive director of the Human League Association, wanted to organize a potato festival for years, and decided to finally take the plunge this year.
“Growing up in the valley, I wondered why we didn't have this type of festival,” she said. “You can find local potatoes in all of our grocery stores.”
Attendees will be encouraged to donate funds for the Human League's Breakfast Club for Kids program.
Valley Growers will also sell 10-pound potato bags, and donate a portion of revenues to the Human League's children's programs.
For the first year, Lavoie said she wanted to start small, and hopes to attract around 500 visitors, even though the farm can easily accommodate 2,000 people.
Tami Rainville, co-owner of Valley Growers, said she was instantly on board when Lavoie suggested the festival.
She said she had thought about doing something similar for years, but was always too busy during the harvest season to organize an event.
Valley Growers harvests around 50 million pounds of potatoes each year.
The company's biggest customer, Rainville said, is Loblaw Companies Limited, which sells their potatoes in its grocery stores across Ontario.
The farm plans to have some of its equipment on display for visitors, and will give tours every 30 minutes of its potato-processing plant and expanded facility — where potatoes will soon be pre-cooked for French fry vendors.
Valley Growers will also host an information booth that will teach visitors about different potato varieties, and explain how their crops are grown and harvested each year.
The Human League is still looking for more local potato vendors and volunteers to jump on board with the festival.
Interested parties can call (705) 670-8633 or reach the Human League via email firstname.lastname@example.org.