Merrill Park Civic Center, 365 W Front Street
Celebrating one of the Klamath Basin’s most important agricultural products, the Klamath Basin Potato Festival, despite a history dating back to 1934, remains an under-the-radar, fun-filled festival that annually draws upwards of 2,000 people—twice the population of its host town, Merrill, located about twenty miles southeast of Klamath Falls, near the California border. Little known outside the Klamath Basin, the potato festival is classic Americana, a celebration of agriculture, community cohesiveness, and small-town values. The few outsiders who travel from afar to indulge in this unique festival are treated like old friends. In fact, far removed from Oregon’s population centers, Merrill is a friendly agrarian community that embraces the crowds that gather for this weekend-long event.
Us Klamath Basin Potato Festival Photo Gallery
One of the highlights of the festival is the free barbequed beef and baked potato feast served up beginning in the early afternoon outside the Merrill Civic Center, which is the hub of activities for the event. Meanwhile, the Civic Center Field hosts all-day Pop Warner football games on Saturday, and a five-mile fun run—the Linkville Lopers Spud Run—begins Saturday morning. Midday on Saturday, the Potato Festival Parade courses through Downtown Merrill and, among other participants, features each year’s grand marshal, as well as the
Potato Festival Court and its queen, chosen at Lost River High School during the week leading up to the extravaganza. The Klamath Basin Potato Festival is extensively family friendly, but adults can enjoy live music and a beer gardens. Central to the Local agriculture meets local arts and crafts at the Klamath Basin Potato Festival. entire weekend festival is the exhibit and vendor hall, which opens Friday at the civic center, featuring a variety of displays such as the biggest, strangest, and most uniform potatoes as well as other produce. Food and produce contests allow all entrants and include many different categories for food, including, of course, potato dishes and products, as well as myriad categories for commercially grown potatoes; craft contests include categories for virtually any art medium, as well as pumpkin carving and scarecrow making. Vendors offer food, produce, arts and crafts, and more. Lodging is limited in Merrill. The town offers two hotels and an RV park, but make reservations well ahead of time for festival weekend. Otherwise, reserve a room in Klamath Falls. Merrill also has several small restaurants, all of which are good, and patronizing them is part of the experience of enjoying this pleasant, quiet little community.
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