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It’s All Eyes and Ears in North Branford

 

Usually corn and potatoes are considered common, some might even say lowly, but on the first weekend of August the residents of North Branford elevate the two starchy staples to extraordinary heights. In its eleventh year, the Potato and Corn Festival now brings tens of thousands of visitors over three days to the typically sleepy farm town.

 

Emerging almost overnight in a hay field at the former Augur Farm on Rt. 22 in the middle of town, a midway with rides, dozens of food vendors, crafting vendors, potato sack races, corn shucking contests, tractor pulls and a classic car show all appear. Many local and far flung bands perform and a spectacular fireworks display, some say among the best in the state, occurs on Saturday night.  And of course, there are baked potatoes and roasted corn.

 

Before the event began in 2002, North Branford didn’t have an annual gathering like it and Pam Gery, the town’s Parks & Recreation Director, decided it was time to celebrate its agricultural history. "I had organized a potato festival before so that’s where we started. It was only later that a town resident said nobody grows potatoes around here. We grow corn. So I said, ok, then it’s a potato and corn festival!” Ms. Gery revealed with a broad grin.

 

The event has become much loved. "In such a small town, to have many hundreds of volunteers from high school sports teams directing parking to our seniors scrubbing potatoes, it’s just amazing,” Tracey Fair, "Volunt-ear Corn-mittee” Chair, said recently. Much of the work of organizing the event is done by a dedicated group of residents who devote many hours on task-groups and committees.