A tater tradition unfolds in Carbondale Saturday | AspenTimes.com

A tater tradition unfolds in Carbondale Saturday

Kyle Mills
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A steaming-hot caldron of campfire coffee is one of the traditions at the annual Potato Day festival in Carbondale, taking place this Saturday in Sopris Park, with a 10:30 a.m. parade on Main Street.
Post Independent file photo


What: Carbondale Potato Day

Where: Main Street and Sopris Park

When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6

Cost: Free, except for BBQ lunch, which is $10 per person, and entry to the Safe Cracking event, also $10 (limit of 80 tickets)


9 a.m. – Farmers and Artisans Market opens in Sopris Park

10:30 a.m. – Potato Day Parade on Main Street; Cowboy Coffee in Sopris Park

11:30 a.m. – Kids’ Zone in Sopris Park with bounce house and carnival games; live music, Hell Roaring String Band

12- 2 p.m. – BBQ lunch, pit-roasted beef and baked potatoes, and veggie potato bar ($10 per person)

1-2 p.m. – Live music, Cowboy Corral

1:30 p.m. – Traditional games begin (potato sack race, Mr. Potato Head piñata)

3 p.m. – Safe Cracking at Steve’s Guitars

3-6 p.m. – Sopris Gymkhana, Gus Darien Rodeo Arena

The history of everyone’s favorite tubers in the cozy town of Carbondale dates back to before the turn of the century.

After the mining and railroading industry hit a snag in the 1890s, the famous starchy vegetables began sprouting up in Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley.

Potato Day began with farmers bringing their harvested crops of potatoes to town to ship, celebrating the bounty of the harvest with a picnic.

“They would all come to town in their Sunday best to have a picnic,” Carbondale Historical Society President Sue Gray said.

Once again this Saturday, Carbondale will gather for the 109th Carbondale Potato Day to celebrate the history of the western Colorado town.

“It’s a chance for people to connect with other people in their community,” Gray said.

The traditional gathering in the park will begin at 9 a.m. with the Farmers and Artisan Market in Sopris Park.

Other events will include Potato Day Parade on Main Street. This year’s theme is “Taters Take Flight,” celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first recorded airplane landing in Carbondale.

The annual barbecue beef and potato lunch with a veggie potato bar begins at noon and runs until 2 p.m. The event is $10 per person with proceeds going to benefit the Carbondale Historical Society.

Traditional games of potato sack races and Mr. Potato Head piñata will start at 1:30 p.m.

Steve’s Guitars will present live music, with local music from Hell Roaring String Band and Cowboy Corral filling the park during the daylong activity.

Unlocking the Past

The contributions of early Roaring Fork Valley pioneers and Carbondale founding father William Dinkel will be center stage at this year’s event. Dinkel, who was an entrepreneur and merchant, was the first to ship potatoes from Carbondale by rail back east in 1891.

At 3 p.m., doors will open at the old Dinkel Building at the corner of Fourth and Main streets, in the northeast corner space that is home to Steve’s Guitars, for a unique safe-cracking event.

An old, black, 1863 safe is in the old walk-in vault in the downtown business. The building was once the home to the Bank of Carbondale, which moved there after the big fire of 1891.

Artifacts from the Dinkel Family will be on display, and memoirs from William Dinkel and other Carbondale pioneers will be read by historical society volunteers dressed in period costumes.

The historical society and Steve’s Guitar will sell tickets to the exclusive event where Wayne Winton from TriCounty Locksmiths will open the safe for the first time in decades.

“Nobody knows what’s inside, it hasn’t been opened in years,” Gray said.

A limited number of 80 patrons will have a chance to witness the cracking of the safe Saturday afternoon. Tickets will be sold for $10 per person at the historical society’s booth at Potato Day and at Steve’s Guitars.

One lucky person in attendance will walk away with the safe’s contents, as part of a door prize. The money raised from the event will go to benefit the historical society.