The forecast this weekend is sunny with a chance of potatoes.
After 76 years, the historic St. Matthews Potato Festival returns tomorrow, Sat., Aug. 27, to the St. Matthews Community Park (310 Ten Pin Ln.) from noon to 6 p.m.
Previously known as the St. Matthews Street Festival, the revival of this rooted festivity is a way to rebrand the former street festival into a celebration of St. Matthews tubular history.
In the 19th century, the potato was king in the St. Matthews area. Farmlands owned by families we still know well today — like Brown, Chenoweth, and Nanz — were famous for growing potatoes and onions. In 1910, The St. Matthews Produce Exchange (formed by 200 farmers) became the second largest potato shipper in the world.
By 1921, more than 13 million pounds of taters were exported by the Produce Exchange and it became known as “the potato capital of the world” until 1946 when the Produce Exchange closed.
As more robust industries moved in, the potato fell out of favor in the business world, but not in the hearts of community members. They knew that the love of spuds must go on. Enter the short-lived, much loved St. Matthew Potato Festival — which took place from 1946 to 1952.
DYK: St. Matthews officially became a city in 1950 + the flag features a potato.
Read on for a look at the festival then + now.
- The community event took place over several days + acted as a fundraiser that gathered $19,000 throughout its time — that’s more than $300,000 today.
- At the inaugural fest, Miss Jean Smither was crowned the Potato Queen
- 400 people would participate in the cavalcade called the “Potato is King”
- Daredevil Don Woods parachuted out of a hot air balloon
- There will be 30+ vendors and two food trucks: Fistful of Tacos and Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Co.
- A Kids Zone with a bounce house + carnival games
- Concerts from the School of Rock Show Band, Daniel Cain, The Song Sparrows, and Bourbon Revival on the Mashed Potato Hits stage — see the schedule
- Tater Trot walk through the park
- Photo ops with the St. Matthews potato himself