Mantua – This past weekend, the 43rd annual Potato Festival was held in Mantua. The event had plenty of vendors selling maple products, henna tattoos, and fair food, including French fries, of course. This year’s festival also featured Laser Bounce Inflatables, which brought in a laser tag center, along with two bounce houses. The company filled in for this year’s contracted ride company, which broke their contract at the last minute.

It’s important to note that this was a different company than the one that had been contracted and cancelled last year. “I know that many families were disappointed at the lack of rides this year. No one was more disappointed than I was, but the situation was out of our control,” shared Angie Hunter, one of the event’s organizers. “I want everyone to know that we’re doing everything we can to secure a reputable ride company for the 2017 festival, and are meeting with a new ride provider next week.”

While Ms. Hunter heard lots of positive comments about the parade and festival, she shared that she also heard the Festival compared unfavorably to the Ox Roast at St. Joseph’s. “You’ve got to remember that they have a parish full of people to pull off the Ox Roast — we’ve only got a committee of six.” She noted that the Festival made money this year, although the exact amount can’t be tabulated until all the  bills have been paid.

Saturday’s Potato Stomp was well attended, with the furthest participant traveling to Mantua from California. To be fair, she was in the area visiting her mom who lives in Garrettsville. The overall winning male of the one-mile fun run was Nolan Wysong, and the top female was Nicole Christopher. The top male and female four-mile racers were Bryan Straniero and Sharon Nelson, respectively. The top male and females in the nine-mile race were Andrew Riggins and hometown hero Bridget Franek.

Saturday evening’s thunderstorms sent some visitors and vendors  home, although fun kept flowing as folks dodged raindrops under the beer tent. One food vendor held her ground, allowing folks to text food orders in, which were delivered to the beer tent throughout the deluge.

Sunday’s sunny skies made a wonderful day for the annual parade, which commemorated the 15th anniversary of 9/11. The parade, which began at Crestwood High School at 2 pm, was a smashing success. “Bill and Debbie Benjamin did a fabulous job organizing the event,” shared Ms. Hunter. She added, “The Village Police and Service Departments have been wonderful to work with…and surprisingly, after this weekend, they’re still speaking to me,” she joked.

In addition to Saturday’s runners, there were many other types of winners at this year’s Festival. Payton Daniels (right)  won the potato-decorating contest with her version of potato-flavored M&M’s. Farah Johnson won the school-age coloring contest. The potato chip eating contest winners were Marissa and Jonathon. The French fry eating contest winners were Brianna Bates, who won the kid’s category and Jason Perez who once again won the title for adults. Special thanks to Burbach Concessions, who have donated the contest fries each year.

Ms. Hunter mentioned that some people would like the festival moved back uptown, where it had been held in the past. “That’s just not feasible to close a busy state route for an entire weekend,” she explained. “We’ve got a great location to hold the event. All we need are more people to help the Potato Festival continue to grow.”

Follow the Mantua Potato Festival page on Facebook to find out how you can help make next year’s event even bigger and better.

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Thanks to Barb Cymanski, Laurie Metzko, Kim Wallace, and the Potato Festival Committee for sharing their fabulous photos.