Faculty prepares to celebrate Potato Day 2012

Faculty prepares to celebrate Potato Day 2012

Photo courtesy of Charlie Krebs

Though it never happened quite as this article suggests, Potato Day was a real event in Lakeland’s history. Above is a photo of Potato Day 1890: “Classes were dismissed on this day, and students went out into the fields to pick up the potato crop for the coming winter. Coffee-and-lunch breaks were ‘selbstverstaendlich.’” Quoted from A History of Mission House-Lakeland by Eugene C. Jaberg.

Michelle Fromm, Managing Editor

Ever since Lakeland was just a little German seminary known as Missionshaus, students and faculty alike have celebrated the annual Potato Day held the first Saturday of November each year.

This year, Potato Day falls on Nov. 3. According to Associate Professor of Theatre & Speech Charlie Krebs, Potato Day is a “festival of potatoes held every year at harvest.”

Potato Day no longer requires students to labor in the fields like it did 150 years ago when the huge field of potatoes on campus needed to be harvested in a timely fashion. These days, Potato Day is more like a huge Easter egg hunt for the students.

“I can only find them in the treasure chests in the abandoned mineshafts and the strongholds in the Testificates’ fields. They’re nice people,” says Martin Jolly, sophomore criminal justice major and Minecraft fanatic.

Lakeland’s faculty is traditionally responsible for hiding the potatoes. Each faculty member is given a ten-pound sack of potatoes to hide around the campus. “I tried to hide mine in fairly easy places this year because last year a lot of them were never found,” said Krebs.

Krebs says that some of his more difficult-to-find potato hiding spaces last year included the tailpipe of President Gould’s car, a coffee maker in W.A.K.’s third floor faculty lounge, and an abandoned bird’s nest he’d found built in a tree outside of the Bradley Fine Arts Center.

“This year I want to pick places that are still fun to look in, but easier to find,” said Krebs. “But some of my colleagues are coming up with very complex ways to hide all the potatoes in their bags.”

Krebs went on to explain that he was particularly concerned about Associate Professor of English Lucretia Crawford’s methods for hiding her potato stash.

“Last year, she managed to stick one right onto the tip of Old Main’s steeple,” said Krebs, shaking his head. “Just incredible. There’s no telling what she’ll come up with this year.”

Crawford recalled the potato fondly. “It was the last potato in my sack,” she said. “I wanted its hiding place to be special. I was talking to Stephanie Rebek that day, and I still hadn’t found a spot to hide my last potato. Then I remembered that Stephanie had told me that she was the shotput champion of her hometown.”

Crawford enlisted Rebek, junior criminal justice major, to help her hide her last potato of Potato Day 2011.

“I tied a slipknot around the potato and asked [Rebek] if she could launch it into the air high enough to get it impaled by one of the spikes on Old Main’s steeple,” Crawford said.

Crawford and Rebek then waited until no was was around outside of Old Main.

“It took a few goes,” said Crawford, “and we had to keep pulling it back down by the string, but she finally got it up there. Then we cut off the string as high as we could so it would be harder to get down.”

When asked about how she’d go about hiding her sack of potatoes for Potato Day 2012, Crawford didn’t want to reveal too much.

“It’s a surprise,” she said. “Every year I try to do better than the year before. I try for something bigger and more exciting. It’s a little competition I have with myself.”

Crawford wants to wish students luck for when they go out to search for her hidden potatoes on Saturday.

“They’re going to need it,” she says. “I’ve surprised even myself this time. It could take them hours to find just one potato. I’ve been planning this since August.”

After the potato hunt is finished, the Potato Day festivities will continue with the potato cookout.

“I’m trying to find at least five [potatoes],” said Jolly. “I’d like to make gnocchi for me and my friends with the potatoes I find. It’s a potato-based pasta. It’s really good.”

After the vast amounts of potatoes have been found and consumed, students will be provided with additional, larger potatoes for the carving contests. Students will hollow out and design various jack-o-lantern-like works of art from the potatoes.

Director of Student Activities Kaye Martin says the carving contest “should be a blast. Students love this event every single year. It’s a real hit.”

Prizes will be given for different types of potato lanterns, including awards for the scariest, the funniest, the fanciest, and the most Lakeland Muskie themed lanterns.