A CHILDHOOD diet of lots of mashed potatoes made woodchopper Dave Foster the perfect spokesman for spuds, according to Gunns Plains Potato Festival organiser Yvonne Downes.
Foster was the patron for the first potato festival eight years ago. It was organised as a fundraiser for the Gunns Plains Hall and to celebrate the history of potato farming in the district.
“We heard the story that when he was a baby and his mother was in hospital with the younger brother, his father would just feed him mashed potatoes to shut him up,” Mrs Downes said.
“He always says, ‘I grew up on mashed potatoes’.”
The festival brought the community together at a time of low morale, Mrs Downes said.
“The hall was basically doing nothing, the community was low. There was no money to keep the hall going. We looked like we were going to have to get the council to take over the hall, so it wouldn’t be our hall any more and we didn’t want that to happen.”
The potato festival, which includes a mashed potato and longest spud peel competition, is an opportunity to reflect on the role of potato farming in people’s livelihoods and also their diets.
“They’ve been a very important part of the history of the area and most of the local farmers grow spuds and just something different,” Mrs Downes said.
VITAL PRODUCE: Potato festival organiser Yvonne Downes with a not-so-humble spud. Picture: Jason Hollister.
“They’re still an important part of how people earn their living here.”
The Gunns Plains Potato Festival is on Monday from 10.30am. Feature events, including a mashed potato competition, longest potato peel and potato creations, will be judged by “Spud” Corbett. Contact Yvonne Downes on 6429 1353.
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