The Show Must Go On

Published online: Mar 12, 2021 Articles Frank Muir, IPC President
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This column appears in the March 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

We’ve all heard the saying, “The show must go on,” and never has it been more applicable than in 2020. In fact, it should probably be changed to, “The show must go on, albeit with a few modifications.” Most recently, that was exactly our battle cry for the Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the New Year’s Eve Idaho Potato Drop. Fortunately, thanks to the planning and hard work of many passionate people, we were able to host three of our most important events of the year, though each looked a little different than normal.

The Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting was established to provide an opportunity for the IPC to talk to growers one-on-one about the potato industry in the state of Idaho, nationally and globally. This year, the meeting was held virtually, allowing folks to safely tune in at a time convenient for them. I presented the 2020-21 marketing plan; Potatoes USA president and CEO Blair Richardson and National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles also presented updates on their organizations’ efforts to promote potatoes during this extremely challenging year. All three presentations are available in the Industry section on the IPC website.

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (FIPB) was not as easy as the Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting to reorganize. There was a period of time when we weren’t certain it would happen at all. Fortunately, ESPN, Boise State University, the NCAA, and of course the Nevada Wolf Pack and Tulane Green Wave saw the benefit of moving forward with one of the most anticipated college football games of the season. It’s also the home of the french fry bath tradition, which has been recognized by Yahoo! Sports “as one of the best traditions in all of sports.”

Nevada defeated Tulane just seconds after pumped-up players doused head coach Jay Norvell with Idaho potato fries and Gatorade. But, when the fries landed on the playing surface the Wolf Pack were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. Tulane took advantage and ran for a 65-yard touchdown. It wasn’t ultimately enough to change the outcome of the game, but it surely generated headlines. And, because it was 2020, nothing surprised us.

The more than 2 million television viewers and radio listeners who tuned into the FIPB experienced the same excitement they do every year. The IPC logo, the “Grown in Idaho” seal and a cutout of Spuddy Buddy, the IPC’s mascot, were visible throughout most of the game. Additionally, the IPC received nine ESPN television and radio ads and multiple mentions by the sportscasters. However, it was a little different at Albertsons Stadium. The IPC’s sponsorship rate was reduced since fans were not allowed in the stadium and all the pre-game festivities were canceled.

There’s no doubt many of us were ready to welcome a new year. While revelers couldn’t watch the Idaho Potato Drop in person this year, they could watch the giant spud drop from an undisclosed location on KTVB and through a live online video stream. Even without a crowd of 40,000, Boise’s famous New Year’s Eve celebration was shared around the world by millions of people.

We’d like to wish everyone a belated happy New Year. We’re dropping 2020 like a hot Idaho potato!