After 10 years of searching, Sue Gray finally rediscovered the Red McClure potato, named after its creator, Carbondale settler and grower Thomas McClure. Red McClure seedlings were rediscovered before at Colorado State University's San Luis Valley Research Center and returned to the Valley around 2010, according to Gray, but were lost yet again. So, Gray was enthralled to recently receive an invitation from Ziska Childs to help harvest her crop of Red McClures on Missouri Heights. Childs has been growing the strain for the past 10 years. She gave Gray some seedlings which will be planted at the heritage gardens outside of the history cabin on Weant Boulevard and Hattie’s Kitchen Garden at the Thompson House, bringing them home once again. Courtesy photo

It’s not every town that gets amped up year after year over a vegetable, but leave it to Carbondale to keep such traditions alive and well. In fact, Potato Days is coming back so strong this year that that plural days is not a misnomer. That’s right, Potato Days will expand the weekend, Oct. 6-8, with lunch served at 11:15am on Saturday, Oct. 7 in Sopris Park.
The 114th Annual Potato Days theme is “Growing Together,” a nod to both Carbondale’s recent transformations and the Colorado Potato Growers Exchange which was founded precisely 100 years ago.
The Carbondale Potato Growers’ Association, a member of the statewide exchange, was once housed where Main Street Gallery & The Framer and Main Street Liquors operate today.
“The larger cooperative, the Colorado Potato Growers’ Exchange, formed in 1923 from local cooperatives,” a press release explained. “This organization acted as the sales agency for 2,000 members from 20 localized associations.”
Notably, as pointed out by Sue Gray of the Carbondale Historical Society, Ben Gianinetti was president of the Carbondale association in the mid-1900s. Remarkably, the Gianinettis continue to help make Potato Day(s) happen every year — from sitting on the organizing committee to growing potatoes for the feast and cooking the bulk of the meal in the pits beneath the surface of Sopris Park. The family’s steady dedication to the tradition speaks to Carbondale’s small-town roots.

First Friday
The festivities kick off on First Friday, Oct. 6 with the return of the community contra dance, to be held at the Carbondale Rec Center. The doors open at 6pm with food and libations catered by The Painted Pig, along with a selection of wines from Aquila Cellars. A contra dance lesson starts at 6:30pm, and the Wooden Nickel String Band will provide the rhythms from 7 to 10pm. The $10 admission fees go directly to the Carbondale Historical Society.

Start with some pancakes, served up by the Carbondale Rotary Club at 8:30am at Chacos Park (4th and Main). Then, run it off (to make room for lunch later) at the Tater Trot hosted by Ross Montessori School, which starts at 9am (also at Chacos Park). Get a cup of cowboy coffee and check out local farmer and artisan booths at Sopris Park anytime between 9am and 3pm. The annual parade starts at 2nd and Main Street at 10:30am (applications for parade floats are still open at
The first Potato Sackers Corn Hole Tournament will take place at Sopris Park from 11am to 2pm. Visit or email to register.
Think you’ve grown the largest potato around? Put it to the test and leave it at the Gazebo at 11am with your name and number/email to compete in a contest that comes with “spudtacular” bragging rights and a chance to win a prize.

Carbondale Tourism launches the first-ever Ride the Ranches, a bike ride that brings participants to the gates of some of local farms. The 50-kilometer ride, led by Aspen Cycling Tours, serves as a fundraiser for Roaring Fork Roots, Carbondale Tourism’s new agritourism grant program which, according to a press release, will provide financial support to farmers and agricultural businesses looking to expand or develop a tourism offering. The ride starts at Coffman Ranch (1837 County Road 100) at 9am (registration at 8am). Visit to preregister.
Check out the Youth Gymkhana Rodeo at the Gus Darien Rodeo Grounds, organized by the Sopris Gymkhana Club, on Sunday, from 10am to 2pm. Or, party down at Party in the Pasture, hosted by Aspen Valley Land Trust at the Coffman Ranch (11am to 2pm). Register and get tickets for the latter at
All in all, it’s bound to be one heck of a Potato Days weekend. The Sopris Sun board and staff look forward to seeing you there, and will be helping to serve lunch on Saturday.

For a full list of events and details, visit