It's time to stop being a couch potato, as one of Portage's biggest events starts today.

The 19th Portage Potato Festival takes place August 11th and 12th, featuring live entertainment, free fries, and plenty of activities for the family. Member of the volunteer committee Cindy McDonald says the festival began as a way to fill the void left when the Strawberry Festival stopped being held.

"McCain and Simplot are both located in the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie, and we're huge potato producers here," explains McDonald. "The City went to the Chamber and said we need another festival and the Chamber started the Potato Festival back in 2004. A year after that, it was taken over by a volunteer committee."

She says that Friday night's festivities will be kicking off with a charity baseball game between Simplot and McCain at 6 p.m. From there, vendors and free entertainment will be showcased until 11 p.m.

"Saturday is our big day," says McDonald. "We have McCain and Simplot both there handing out free fries from noon to 4 p.m., we have free kids entertainment, we have free entertainment all day long, starting right at our pancake breakfast at 9:00 a.m. and it goes all day."

McDonald adds that Community Food Matters will be collecting non-perishable food items on Saturday as well. The group will be in the set up alongside the other vendors and she asks that you donate if you're able to.

She also highlights the return of the Baby Spud contest, where parents dress their babies in potato costumes with the cutest one winning.

"There's no charge to come to the Potato Festival and that's because of our great sponsors. The City of Portage, the Rural Municipality, and, of course, Simplot and McCain," notes McDonald. "We couldn't put on a free festival without all those people. Our committee has been working hard all year long to bring this festival, so bring your family out and have a great time."

Potato Fest poster.

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