All hail the mighty spud

It’s food, football, fun and more this week as UND joins the community for the 52nd Annual Potato Bowl USA celebration

UND Football

The first Potato Bowl USA football game took place on Sept. 24, 1966 between UND and Idaho State. It was billed as a battle between two of the largest potato-growing regions in the United States: Idaho and the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. UND stomped Idaho State 41-0 in that first meeting. UND holds an impressive 39-12 Potato Bowl record, dating back to that first game. Archival photo.

Strap on the feedbag and get ready for the 52nd Annual Potato Bowl USA celebration.

There’s no shortage of things to do or things to eat this week, with a midweek rivalry matchup with NDSU in volleyball, French fry eating, the big Potato Bowl Parade, weekend tailgating and, of course, the first home football game of the season on Saturday at 4 p.m., at the Alerus Center, pitting your Fighting Hawks against the Missouri State Bears of the Missouri Valley Football Conference — UND’s new conference home starting in 2020.

Every year at this time, the epicenter of the potato-growing world is the Grand Cities’ Potato Bowl USA festival. The weeklong tribute to Red River Valley Reds kicks off today with Hugo’s Potato Bowl PLINKO. Register at any Hugo’s greater Grand Forks location.

  • On Wednesday, Hugo’s is sponsoring the Potato Bowl Golf Scramble, beginning at 11 a.m. (tee time at noon) at Valley Golf Course in East Grand Forks. And don’t forget the Chip Giveaway at Scheels All sport in the Columbia Mall. While you’re at it, pick up a Fighting Hawks yard sign.

The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center will be the place to be on Wednesday night as the No. 15 (mid-major rankings) Fighting Hawks take their solid 9-1 start against the rivals to the south, NDSU, in volleyball at 7 p.m.

  • Thursday brings the annual Baked Potato Bar, from 11 a.m. -1:30 p.m. at all Hugo’s locations. The Chip Giveaway moves to all Frandsen Bank & Trust locations.
  • Then there’s the Grand Daddy of Them All on Thursday evening (4 p.m.-dusk) at University Park with the J.R. Simplot & Co’s World’s Largest French Fry Feed and Fireworks (the fireworks will be staged at nearby Memorial Stadium on the UND campus).

Check out the Potato Bowl USA website for a complete rundown of family activities throughout the week.

UND students on gameday.

There’s no shortage of things to do or things to eat this week for Potato Bowl USA, with a midweek rivalry matchup with NDSU in volleyball, French fry eating, the big Potato Bowl Parade, weekend tailgating and, of course, the first home football game of the season on Saturday at 4 p.m., at the Alerus Center. Archival photo.

Game Day

New this year, tailgating will open up in the Alerus Center parking lot as early as 8 a.m., for fans who want to come early to celebrate the Fighting Hawks big game.

The KEM Shrine Potato Bowl Parade, sponsored this year by Opp Construction, begins at 10 a.m., with a new route. The route will be primarily on University Avenue this year. Longtime UND employee and alum Peter Johnson will be the parade’s Grand Marshal.

Kickoff for the 52nd Annual Potato Bowl Football Game is set for 4 p.m. at the Alerus Center. Tickets are selling fast but a few still remain. The Fighting Hawks will take on the Missouri State Bears, who defeated UND 38-0 in the two teams’ last meeting in 2014 in Springfield, Mo.

How it all started:

Potato Bowl USA is rooted in the history of UND and two Red River Valley communities: Grand Forks and Hoople, N.D. ― about 50 miles northwest of Grand Forks.

It all started in 1965, when UND Football coach Jerry Olson started taking his players on an annual “Hop to Hoople,” to meet and dine with the locals there. Soon an annual parade and football game back in Grand Forks evolved around the football players’ yearly pilgrimage to Hoople. The community of Hoople, also known as “Tater Town USA,” started sponsoring its own floats in the parades. The Hoople floats proved popular, and many years, were judged to be the best of the parade.

The first Potato Bowl USA football game took place on Sept. 24, 1966 between UND and Idaho State. It was billed as a battle between two of the largest potato-growing regions in the United States: Idaho and the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota. UND stomped Idaho State 41-0 in that first meeting. UND holds an impressive 39-12 Potato Bowl record, dating back to that first game.

UND football at the Alerus Center

Officials from the UND Athletics Department and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, the new venue manager of the Alerus Center, have teamed up to enhance the Fighting Hawks Football Game Day experience at the home of UND football. Archival image.

Alerus experience

UND football fans should be in for a treat at the Alerus Center, beginning as early this year. Officials from the UND Athletics Department and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, the new venue manager of the Alerus Center, have teamed up to enhance the Fighting Hawks Football Game Day experience.

UND also launched a 31-person committee to study ways to make the Alerus Center’s UND Football game day experience one of the best in all of the NCAA’s Football Championship Series. This is a three year project, with some improvements happing as early as this current seaon.

As mentioned earlier, tailgate times have been extended to have the lots open at 8 a.m. for all home games during the 2017 season. This additional time has been added to allow fans the chance to have more time to set up and enjoy their tailgating experience. In addition to the time extension, there will be an increase in bathroom facilities located in the tailgate lots.

Also “Tailgate Village,” which has live music, food vendors, merchandise sales and giant inflatables for the kids will open more than two hours before every game and is completely free for fans. Fans are also encouraged to walk through “Tailgate Alley” where private season-long tailgaters have reserved spots.

Finally, during the first home football game, fans are encouraged to come pick up the official “Fighting Hawkerchief” for 2017 from Tailgate Village and from those handing them out throughout the tailgate lots. These items were generously paid for by a donor, and are meant to be utilized inside during the games all-season long.

The Alerus Center now also offers free public access Wi-Fi to its patrons, and has added a new state of the art sound system and a brand new LED lighting system. The new state of the art sound system is a complete replacement of the original loudspeaker system. The new loudspeakers are manufactured by Fulcrum Acoustics, based out of Massachusetts. The design focuses on the placement, aiming, and timing of the speakers to give the best user experience. The concourse and suites will also get upgraded speakers that will sound much more musical than their predecessors.

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