The Annual Alliston Potato Festival will turn 45 this year since launching in 1972 and hold their event August 11 – 13. Still one of the most popular events in the area, the festival is essentially split between the fairgrounds and activities on Victoria Street.
Eva Martin, Director of Entertainment on the fairground field, has seen a lot of changes and improvements in the past 20 years. The festival has evolved from the early days of trips to potato farms when everything happened on the main street.
When it first started, the pancake breakfast and midway were located behind where the liquor store sits today. Over the years, the festival got too big for the Main St. and moved activities down to the fairground.
It was then that it went from being a single day event to a three day festival with businesses running events on the main street. There they have kids rides, vendors and food trucks operate in support of the local business community.
There are also vendors selling food on the fairgrounds, but most of the activity is organized by non-profit groups.
“That’s their time to raise money – you have the Knights, the Scouts, and the Lions – that’s their big fundraising time”, says Martin.
She goes on to state their objective to “give the non-profit a chance to become more aware of what’s going on and to fundraise for events that they would like to hold throughout the year.”
The festival supports different groups each year, based on the need and their ability to help out, according to Martin.
“At the end of the year when we find out what our profit is and how much of that can we give back to the community. Sometimes we give more, and sometimes we give less, depending on what kind of year we had but we always do try to give something back to the community.”
Last year they supported the Alliston Legion in making murals on the Memorial Arena, for example, and also put funds aside for their own use.
“We try to keep a little fund for rainy weekends because we’re a non-profit, we don’t get money from the town, we have to raise the money for the expense of the potato festival,” explained Martin.
This year, festival goers can look forward to the widely popular Baby Show along with the Dog Agility show, laser tag and a science tent. The tent will have five stations set up for kids to visit for two days when they aren’t painting a car with their parents.
“We give the kids and adults a little bit of paint and some brushes and we get a car from Early’s Auto Parts and they can paint whatever part of the car they want,” says Martin.
“If you want to come down and enjoy the fairgrounds without going to the midway, you can. You can pay your five bucks to come in, enjoy what’s taking place at the fairground for free,” states Martin.
ABIA Victoria Street Events is also a major part of the weekend with approximately 40,000 visitors throughout the day. It all kicks off Friday evening with the Alliston Rotary Parade along Victoria Street in the downtown core.
“You won’t want to miss this year’s 44th Alliston Potato Festival as there are events for both the Young and the Young at Heart. It’s a Family Tradition that the whole town participates in,” says Linda Spurr, Alliston BIA General Manager.