Published online: May 09, 2007
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EAGLE, ID--Retailers love their potatoes and from the contest entries received, it's evident that February is, without questions, Potato Lovers Month. The Idaho Potato Commission's Retail Display Contest received 2,000 entries this year and awarded more than $150,000 in cash and merchandise prizes to retailers across the country.

This year, everyone won! Every qualified entrant received a free MP3 Digital Music player, a $70 value.

February is typically a slow time of year for potato sales and this unique contest, which is in its 16th year, has become increasingly popular among retailers. In just the past three years, an average of over 2,000 stores have participated in this contest annually. For thirteen years prior, the average was barely 600 entries each year.

"The growth and popularity of this contest is unbelievable. The spike in interest is largely due to the fact that the contest is easy toenter, it's fun, everyone wins a prize and it helps boost sales during a slow time of the year," said Seth Pemsler vice president-retail / international, IPC. "However, if this contest continues to grow at its current pace, February may no longer be a slow sales month for Idaho Potatoes."

While many displays featured the IPC's famous Spuddy Buddy mascot, a few retailers went over-the-top with themed displays like "Dancing With the Spuds" and one carefully fashioned in the shape of the state of Idaho.

"This year we are particularly impressed with the quality of the entries--the retailers pulled out all stops and created some very eye-catching and unique displays," said Pemsler. "No matter how creative a display is though, it has to sell product and that's not always easy to do. However, this year, retailers accomplished both."

In addition to Idaho Potatoes appearing front and center in all displays entered, long-time partners (and potato topping favorites) KRAFT Cheese Whiz, 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese and OSCAR MAYER Real Bacon Bits were also included prominently in the displays.

More than 150 prizes totaling more than $150,000 were awarded across three general categories: Display Winners (broken down into three categories based on number of cash registers at each store), Military (East coast and West coast) and Ad Overlay Contest. To view photographs of all the winning entries, go to http://idahopotato.com/plm_2007/winners/index.php.

Thousands of dollars in prize money were awarded to the top five Display Winners in three different store categories (with matching category prizes), plus $100 each to 100 honorable mention winners. The following individuals/stores received first place awards in the Display Contest categories: one to five cash register displays Jeff Stewart Piggly Wiggly of Bonifay, FL; six to nine cash registers displays - Donna Shuey Slone's Signature Market of Jackson, KY and 10 plus cash register displays - Brett Reed Hy-Vee Food Stores of Windsor Heights, IA.

The top five best ad entries received major cash prizes, and an additional 25 honorable mentions each received $100. Jeff Stewart and Piggly Wiggly of Bonifay, FL, also one first place in the ad overlay contest.