UND joins the community for the 50th anniversary of Potato Bowl USA

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UND joins the community for the 50th anniversary of Potato Bowl USA

French fries may have originated in Greece (grease) but people everywhere know it’s the Red River Valley that has truly perfected how to fete the potato.

And every year at this time, the epicenter of the potato-growing world is the Grand Cities’ Potato Bowl USA festival. This year, the weeklong fete tribute to Red River Valley Reds promises to be one of the biggest yet as the University of North Dakota joins the surrounding community in preparation for the 50th annual rendition. It all kicks off this week (Sept. 8-12) and culminates with the Potato Bowl USA Parade and UND football game against Drake University on Saturday.

The week is chock full of other exciting family events, too, including the annual World’s Largest French Fry on Thursday in University Park ? complete with fireworks in nearby Memorial Stadium.

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 37-12 Potato Bowl record, dating back to that first game.

Teresa DiGregorioUniversity & Public Affairs student writer

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