What is Potato Days?
Well, Potato Days is a town-wide celebration that is now always held the first weekend in August. There are MANY events happening all weekend long for all age groups.
Potato Days started back in 1992 as a way to celebrate what the area was known for- growing potatoes. Clark was South Dakota’s Potato Capital!
Events back in 1992 consisted of a 5×5 softball tournament, a car and motorcycle show, various potato food related contests, kids coloring contests- each for “Tater Tots” and “Small Fries”, a vendor fair was set up at Dickinson park, and a flatbed truck was used as a center stage for entertainment. God’s Country and Lisa Finstad performed, and the Fromdahl sisters participated in a lip sync contest there.
In 1995, the 4th annual Potato Days, is when the famous MASHED POTATO WRESTLING began with McCain Foods being the sponsor (gravy not included!). Campbell Farms Dakota Style Chips was in business for their 10th year, McCain Foods being in business for their 25th year. Food samples, tours of the McCain plant, and aerial tours of the area were also started this year.
Over the years different events were added such as a kids tractor pull, horseshoe and golf tournaments, a bigger car show with judges, helicopter tours, kids coin digs, potato decorating contests, Potato Olympics and Fireman’s Challenge, Find the Medallion, rodeos, threshing bees, and so much more.
In 2002, the announcement of the closure of the McCain’s plant inevitably became the last year of their involvement with Potato Days. But this did not stop the mashed potato wrestling from happening as there were many determined locals to keep this entertaining event going! They just needed to get their dehydrated spuds elsewhere, and so they did.
In 2004 the antique tractor parade started. They started their caravan journey in Watertown with their destination being the Potato Days Tractor Show. That’s a long trek for these tractors!
Over the next years events like Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, a mile walk/5k/10k run Road Race event were started up. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head started making appearances, Little Miss and Master Tator Tot and potato sack contests began. Trolleys from the South Dakota State Fair were brought in for easier transportation to and from different events. Trolley Folleys events, kids inflatables, and downtown street dances were also started up.
Fun facts: In 2007, Clark was visited by Minnesota’s YouTube sensation Steve-O-Gratin with his nemesis Rowdy Roddy where they participated in the famous mashed potato wrestling! In 2019, ESPN sent a photographer to cover the mashed potato wrestling event as well. Our little town of Clark had a couple “15 minutes of fame” !
These are just a few of the events and memories from past Potato Days. There are so many more memories and even more people to thank for those cherished memories. I bet you can ask almost anyone in Clark and they will have a Potato Days memory for you!
Potato Days was started by the Chamber of Commerce with the Spudniks coming to join in the later years. They are still who sponsor the event to this day. Many hours of planning, volunteering, and hard work go into making this fun weekend what it is. We try hard to keep the favorite events going as well as bringing new ideas to the table for all ages to enjoy.