Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tater Day 2013


"Tater Day" is an annual festival that has been held in Marshall County, Kentucky since the mid 1800's.  Marshall County was founded in 1843 and on the first Monday of every April, the farmers would gather in town to trade sweet potato slips to plant and grow on their farms.  Sweet potatoes are grown by planting the slip, or sprout, that is grown from a parent potato.   Each spring the framers would begin planting their crops by early April, so it was decided that the first Monday of April would be Tater Day and the farmers would come from miles around. 

At the same time pigs, chickens, goats, cows and other livestock would also be traded.  Hunting dogs would be compared and purchased.  As time went by and the population of Marshall County expanded, so did the Tater Day Festival.  Soon medicine men were selling elixirs and politicians were shaking hands, women were buying dress goods and pots and pans.  As time went by, the festival grew even more and soon movies were being shown, carnivals were running, concerts were performed and parades went through the town.  Tater Day had blossomed into a huge annual event.

Times have changed and farmers no longer need to trade their tater slips, but that didn't put an end to the Tater Day festivities.  Today it's a huge, 3 day event that draws crowds upwards of 60,000.  Tater Day is so popular that the area schools close down on that Monday because so many kids skipped school to attend the festival.  The event begins the Saturday before Tater Day and hosts a Tater trot.

We happened to be in Kentucky last week so we decided to check out the Tater Day Festival on Saturday.  Even arriving at 10:00 we found it already crowded and we drove around for 10 minutes before I found a parking spot.  We headed down the main strip, where people in cars drive in a constant never ending parade, blowing horns, waving flags and shouting to friends on the street....



 






I took this picture for my friend Karen.  "Duck Commander!!!"  Quack, quack.....


There were lots of cute little bunnies for sale....


And dozens of merchandise stalls spilled out onto the sidewalks.  Personally, I was a little put off by the merchandise sellers this year.  We've been attending Tater Day on and off for the past 20 years.  They used to have a lot more booths with homemade items and crafty stuff.  This year seemed to be a lot more of flea market junk and cheap items.  I was disappointed in that.  This stall was the only one I actually saw that had some hand made things....




Food stalls lined the main drags and sell a wide variety of items....




There is no shortage of fried foods at Tater Day, that's for sure....




We walked around for awhile and decided to get a funnel cake and some ribbon fries.  I have to tell you this story because it's just too funny.   We picked a food booth and stood in line.  When it was our turn, Chablis asked for a Coke.  The woman behind the counter says, "We don't sell Coke products.  We have Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Root Beer and the like."  So Chablis says, "Ok, I'll have a Pepsi then."  The woman replied,  "Our pop machine is broken.  Do you want iced tea instead??"  LOL.   Chablis and I just looked at each other and tried not to laugh.  Seriously. 

So we ordered the food and I have to tell you, I was really disappointed in it.  We had carried it back to the car to eat because there was absolutely no place to sit.  The funnel cake tasted like it was cooked in old grease and the ribbon fries had absolutely no flavor what so ever.  Just terrible.  I half considered walking the 2 blocks back and asking for my money back, but we were so aggravated, hungry and thirsty by that time, that I just drove to the next town and we went and got a hamburger.
 


So that was our Tater Day experience this year.  Sadly, it wasn't a good reflection of an annual festival that I've enjoyed with my kids for many years.  Maybe it's gotten too big, too commercial, too overblown.  I didn't care for the carny atmosphere or the flea market marked down items.  I missed the old fashioned arts and crafts and the really good food.  Or maybe it was just an off day. 

If you'd like to read more about the annual Tater Day festival, go to this site.  Please don't let me dissuade you from attending and forming your own opinion.  Like I said, maybe it was just an off day for us.

16 comments:

  1. Uh oh bummer on the food. I hate paying for food and then it is not any good.

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    1. Elaine, that drives me crazy and just ticks me off.

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  2. That's a shame about the food! :o(


    But a festival based on sweet potatoes? How wonderful!!! DO they have any sweet potatoe based food to eat?

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    1. Wouldn't you think a LOT of sweet potato based foods would be offered? Pies, cakes, cookies, casseroles.... The possibilities are endless and NOT a sweet potato in sight. :-(

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  3. That's too bad Kim, I have always enjoyed these types of festivals, the food and crafts are usually amazing!!! Hopefully it was just an off day and not a vision of things to come!!! Thanks for taking us with you!!!

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    1. I was super disappointed in the lack of homemade crafts this year. There wasn't even any homemade FOODS either.

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  4. Sorry Kim. Sounds like it was a bit of a disappointing day. J

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    1. It was and it will take a lot to get me to go back again. :-(

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  5. I hope you found a geocache or two in the area. I looked up Marshall Co on the map. That's a far piece from where we now live. We once lived at Ft Knox, KY but never got more than a county or so to the west. Thanks for the story.

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  6. Sounds like a great festival has been taken over by the flea market and carnival food people. What a shame.

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  7. That really is disappointing. I like the handmade items, too and I know that's what most people look for. With such a huge turn out, it's a shame it wasn't better. I sure couldn't have eaten the food...what NO coke? heehee! Enjoy your week! Hugs!

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  8. Well what a bummer. You would think that there would be so many foods made with sweet potatoes. I love them :P And you can make your own funnel cakes with Bisquick, french vanilla creamer and a squeeze bottle! Too bad the ribbon firs didn't taste as good as they looked :(

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    1. I never really thought about making my own funnel cakes - off to research a recipe!

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  9. You know what I have found out over the past two years Kim, events like this that I use to LOVE are either so-so or off my agenda completely and I think there are two contributing factors.
    1. The economy is so tight that many organizers of these events are "cutting corners" and it just isn't what it used to be and never will be again. There just aren’t enough funds to go around and vendors are more selective where they go and spend their registration money.
    2. In the "food" category, many fried foods, snack foods, goodies and the like that I use to get exclusively at these types of events lost their "pizzazz" ever since we as a family started eating fresher and less fat. I actually puked after eating the much anticipated church bizarre potatoes pancake! The funnel cake made me nauseated and I skipped over the deep fried Twinkies and the county fair that I so looked forward to in the past. ANYTHING, fried tastes like the oil is old to me anymore. I just can't stomach it. But, I do love ice cream :) BH

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  10. I understand what you mean, Kim. Our old hometown fair just isn't the same anymore, or maybe it's me.
    The anticipation of all the rides, the food booths, and crafts used to be over the top!
    recently we went to the fair, and walked away disappointed.
    Everything seemed so seedy, and dirty. My kids laughed at me, and said it's always been that way! I guess when I was younger I didn't notice the nasty side of the fair...just the 4-H barns, and the funnel cakes, and the concerts.
    I'm sorry your day wasn't as you had hoped. Maybe next year will be better.
    xo

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    1. Thanks Debbie: I was so disappointed. Oh well.

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