progressed. A schedule of events was taking final shape. Committees
were formed responsible for each scheduled event, and chairmen
were assigned the responsibility of exercising each event. Floyd
McDunn was given the responsibility of conducting the potato picking
contest, the main event. Two upstanding “Irishmen” (Perry
Mork and Alfred Nelson) had the task of providing the “Potet
Suppe”, the potato soup, for all the attendees. The important
task of publicizing this day of celebration was given to Paul Jacobson.
As if what had been planned so far was
not enough, a very special feature was added to the days’ events — a
mystery public wedding would be conducted in a specially-erected
chapel located in downtown Barnesville, for all to attend. The
couple to be married would remain a mystery until the actual
By mid-August the schedule was near completed.
Even though the existing schedule of events was quite “awesome”, local
planners, not being satisfied, decided to add a super “spectacular”,
a blood-chilling, breath-taking, sensational, 10,000-foot jump
from an airplane would be undertaken by a dare-devil, wearing large “bat
wings”. As August moved on, entries begin to arrive for the
potato picking contest. From the Pacific to the Atlantic they came,
from the Gulf to the Canadian border. As was described in the local
paper (Record Review) during this time, invitations went out to
big men, little men, fat men, thin men, all to vie for honors in
this “National Spud Picking Contest”. The contest would
be broadcast, actually broadcast from the site of the potato picking,
and the progress of the contestants would be transmitted over radio
station KVOX, Moorhead.
Saturday, August 27th was a day of warning!
On this day all Barnesville businessmen, and all Barnesville
employees, must begin to wear their potato sacks. “It’s
a sack on your back or four bits!”
On September 1st the rules for the potato picking contest were
finalized. It is interesting to note that one rule specifically
states that a judge in the field cannot be assigned to a picker
from his own neighborhood. Now, does that hint that there could
be possible favoritism shown from judge to picker?
A late August heavy hail storm jeopardizes the availability of
a potato crop site, heavy damage is reported in the Baker vicinity.
The list of pickers is confirmed at 18. Six different states are
represented by this list of pickers. (A dark horse among the list
of pickers was a Mark Bodine from Paris, Missouri. However, when
the list of contest field judges was released, it was noted that
all are from Baker or Barnesville. How could you not be a judge
from a pickers neighborhood, with the exception of the poor unfortunate
picker from Missouri).
The potato plot for the potato picking
contest was selected — a
field one and one-half miles northeast of Barnesville, on the Art
Bredemeier farm. Parking space adjoining the field was laid out
affording parking for at least 2000 cars. They indeed were expecting
a large crowd.
The day of celebration was filled with
planned activity from 11 am to midnight — two parades,
Drum and Bugle Corps, bands, a German Band mind you. (It must
be noted that there was a potato soup contest occurring most
the day and the Norwegian Band Members must have thought it would
be too difficult to play their horns with a mouthful of potato
For a while it seemed the “Bat Wing” man
plunge might be in jeopardy. Just prior to the scheduled jump at
the Barnesville Potato Days, the “Bat Wing” man met
his death when his safety chute failed to open. However, officials
at Barnesville were assured that a replacement had been found and
the event would go on as scheduled. [more]