Vegetarian potato bar new addition to Carbondale’s Potato Day

Jessica Cabe
Potato Day patrons were served a classic meat and potatoes barbecue lunch las year in Sopris Park. This year, the barbecue will still be going strong, but a vegetarian potato bar will also be an option.
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent file |


What: Potato Day

When: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sopris Park, parade down Main Street at 10:30 a.m.

How much: Free

For more than a century, Carbondale’s Potato Day has been a staple in the community as a meat-and-potatoes celebration of the town’s farming and ranching roots.

Some people could probably do without the meat, though. So Nicole Ludlow, a member of the Xi Gamma Tau chapter of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority, which organizes Potato Day every year, decided to try adding a vegetarian potato bar to the mix.

The vegetarian option puts potatoes at center stage, arguably where they belong on Potato Day, and it also offers a full meal with a side of cole slaw, vegetarian baked beans and ice cream. Toppings for the baked potatoes include salsa, broccoli, cheese, olives, scallions, chives, butter and sour cream.

“The community is changing and evolving,” Ludlow said. “We have a juice bar on Main Street. I’m not even sure how many yoga studios — people are conscious of their health.”

The traditional barbecue cookout isn’t going anywhere, but Ludlow thought it would be a good idea to make sure vegetarians have an option for a full meal so they can join in on the community fun.

“The whole community comes down and essentially has the same meal together at the same time, and that’s kind of cool,” Ludlow said. “I think [the vegetarian potato bar] is a great option for people.”

So far, she said others feel the same way.

“People have been excited and think it sounds like a good option,” she said. “Maybe they won’t choose it, but most people seem to know someone who might be interested in that particular type of meal.”

Ludlow said she’s no chef, but she loves food and loves to cook. She said she’s finding herself more interested in creating meals at home with vegetables at the center. Also, grocery stores and farmers markets in the area emphasize the importance of fresh veggies, and the Internet has become a great resource to find creative recipes that don’t necessarily have meat as the centerpieces.

Because Potato Day ends up serving about 1,000 people, Ludlow said it would be impossible to come up with too many food options. But she thinks a vegetarian potato bar is simple enough and will provide great variety for anyone in attendance. If all goes well this year, she said she’d love to bring it back in the future.

New this year along with the vegetarian potato bar is an initiative to go green, Ludlow said. All silverware will be compostable, and high school volunteers will be around to make sure people dispose of their trash in the proper containers.

Another new feature is a silent auction. Proceeds will go toward making sure Potato Day can keep going in the future, and any extra revenue will be given back to the community throughout the year.

Overall, Ludlow is excited to be a part of updating Potato Day in a changing Carbondale. She said she’s not replacing any of the old traditions, just providing more options.

“The event honors our roots and history, but we want to embrace the changes that are happening in the community,” she said. “We’re embracing old and new; we want everyone to be welcome at Potato Day.”

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