SHELLEY – Thousands took in the activities of Spud Day in Shelley on Saturday. This year was the 84th yearly celebration of the Russet potato and the City of Shelley.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Idaho Potato Commission hauled the world’s biggest potato to Shelley to participate in the parade.
Whitney Wood is the current Miss Idaho. She will compete in the Miss America Pageant come January. Saturday, she joined in the festivities, including being pulled into the vat of potatoes during the Spud Tug.
Brought back this year was the potato sack race. Kids stepped into potato sacks and then jumped down to an orange cone and then back to the finish line.
Basic American Foods and GPOD provided 6,000 pounds of potatoes for the Spud Picking contest. It’s scoop and dump in this contest of who can bag spuds in the shortest amount of time.
People compete in their age groups. Contestants must be at least 17-years-old to compete in the adult division. The age span ranged from two toddlers, age 3, to one very spry 68-year-old woman.
Fifteen women and 24 men competed in the adult divisions which is the largest number of entries seen in years.
Ronalee Williams retained her title as World Champion Spud Picker in the women’s division with a time of 4 minutes 52 seconds and 38 hundredths. Her best time, set in 2009, was 3:52. This year’s victory is her sixth in a row.
Sharlene Jolley was second with at time of 7:16.62 and Bridgette Servantes was third with a time of 7:31.75.
In the men’s division, Chad Baker claimed his 10th World Champion Spud Picker title. He has won this event 11 times but this year’s marks his 10th victory in a row.
Baker is pretty serious about retaining this title. Four years ago, his son was born four hours before this contest. The baby was born in Rexburg and flown to Salt Lake to the Primary Children’s Hospital. On the way to Salt Lake, Baker and his wife stopped in Shelley so he could compete in the spud picking contest. (He won.)
This year, Baker’s time was 4:14.61. Steve Prescott was right on his heels with a time of 4:51.42 and Raul Carranza rounded out the top three with a time of 5 minutes 45 seconds.
As the announcer said of this contest, “You can pick your nose. You can pick your seat. You can pick your friends but you haven’t picked anything until you’ve picked spuds at Shelley Spud Day.
The popular Spud Tug featured six kids’ teams and 15 adult teams. All comers are welcome to compete. Each team
Mini Spuds defeated the Doughboys in the kids’ division to take home bragging rights.
In the adult division, the Tubby Thompson team won $100 and a trophy, defeating the Rainbow Warriors (the LDS missionary team).
Muscle on the Thompson team was provided by Robert Thompson, Karl Thompson, Geoff Thompson, Demian Egan and Tiffany Egan.
With the temperature reaching into the 90s, Journey Church gave away 3,000 bottles of cold water in three hours.
“That’s a record,” Pastor Roger Manwiller said. “It was a hot day.”
Wayne Versey, one of the organizers, said, “There was lots of competition and it was well attended.”