Pamplin Media Group – CENTRAL OREGON HISTORY: The Redmond Potato Show becomes a major event
The festival continued each year as central Oregon became the potato capital of the West
The arrival of irrigation in central Oregon in 1906 opened the possibility of growing new crops in the region. Soon the potato became a major crop. To honor the new crop, the Redmond Potato Show was held in 1906. The show was founded by Fred Stanley, who was a leader of the Central Oregon Irrigation Company. The festival was created to promote the variety of locally grown potatoes.
The event attracted many people to watch the showcase of more than 26 varieties of potatoes grown in the first year. The festival continued each year as central Oregon became the potato capital of the West. The Potato Show was mostly held on the streets of Redmond in the fall after the harvest. He became so popular that he outgrew the ability to handle the crowds present. This led to the creation of the Deschutes County Fair which continued to feature the potato. The two events took place in parallel.
A special potato has begun to be harvested, known as the Deschutes Netted Gem. It has become a very popular culture. By the 1950s, more than 5,000 acres in central Oregon were devoted to net-gem farming. The Potato Show became a stand-alone festival again in the late 1950s. It was a very popular event. A downtown BBQ was held and many side events drew crowds. There was even a Potato King and Potato Queen selected for the annual event.
Central Oregon remained a major potato producer until 1970. But eastern Oregon and Idaho began producing more than central Oregon. The potato industry in central Oregon began to decline significantly, and in 1970 the Potato Show was canceled. The once hugely popular event is now only memories. The festival was revived in 2006 for Redmond’s centenary, but only for the special event.