French fries, football, fun and fireworks

Annual Potato Bowl USA Parade returns to University Avenue prior to big UND football rematch at Alerus Center

With an eye on the weather, organizers are preparing another year of Potato Bowl activities, including the world’s largest French Fry Feed. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

After some of the last year’s events got rained out, Potato Bowl USA festival organizers are hoping for a reprieve from recent soggy weather just in time for this year’s 54th rendition of the annual ode to Red River Valley spuds.

The 54th Annual Potato Bowl celebration kicked off Monday to launch a week’s worth of events, culminating with the big football game at 4 p.m., Saturday, when the UND Fighting Hawks will take on the Bearkats of Sam Houston State of Huntsville, Texas, at the Alerus Center, where it’s always 72 degrees and sunny.

The Bearkats will be seeking revenge on Saturday, as last year, the Hawks flew down to Huntsville, Texas, and pulled the upset over the highly ranked opponent.

For a more detailed look at what’s going on this week, including the world’s largest French Fry Feed on Thursday and the Potato Bowl USA Parade’s return to University Avenue, check out the 54th Annual Potato Bowl USA website .

Because rain is in the forecast, officials from the Potato Bowl USA Committee have decided to move the Simplot Potato Bowl French Fry Feed inside to the Hyslop Sports Center Arena on the UND campus. The event will start at 4 p.m. Thursday and run until about 8 p.m.

French Fry Feed attendees are asked to use the northeast entrance to the Hyslop Sports Center. Limited parking will be available next to the arena beginning at 4 p.m., with the majority of spaces available in the lot just north of the arena along University Avenue.

For an update on this and other events, many of which are weather-dependent and have locations that are subject to change, stay tuned to University and other local media for updates.

BRIEF HISTORY OF POTATO BOWL – On Sept. 24, 1966, the very first Potato Bowl football game was played at Memorial Stadium and was billed as a battle between two of the largest potato growing regions in the United States (Idaho and the Red River Valley).   The idea of creating a week of festivities to celebrate potatoes and football was the brainchild of UND Athletic Director Len Marti, UND Head Football Coach Marv “Whitey” Helling, Assistant Football Coach Jerry Olson and Sports Information Director Lee Bohnet.

In that first game in 1966, the UND Fighting Sioux thumped Idaho State 41-0.  UND is 40-13 in its first 53 Potato Bowl games.