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
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.
Dennis Pannone, a longtime volunteer has taken the lead this
year as "High and Mighty Poten-tater” or "The Corn Colonel” by directing the
volunteer organization. "We have so much support from the residents, from the
town council and the town manager. We are lucky so many people are behind us,”
Mr. Pannone remarked.
The Potato and Corn Festival will be held at Totoket Valley
Park and Augur Farm on Rt.
22 on August 3, 4 & 5, 2012. Rain or shine. Admission is free. Parking is
available onsite for $5/$10 and free parking is available with shuttles at the
Stanley T. Williams School and North