Maine Potatoes Popular at The Big E

Maine’s chef potato was a big hit at this year’s Eastern States Exposition, with more than 65,600 sold to visitors there.

Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, said that it was a great year for potatoes at the Big E after several years of declining sales.

Baked potato sales were up approximately 4,211 potatoes from last year, with a total of 65,672 potatoes sold, according to figures supplied by the Maine Potato Board.

The Big E, held Sept. 13-29 in Springfield, Massachusetts, is organized as an educational institution under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A volunteer board of trustees consisting of representatives from each of the six New England States governs the expo. This year’s exposition saw 1.6 million visitors.

“We wouldn’t miss it,” said the Woronecki family from nearby Somers, CT.  “And the first thing we head for is the Maine building and get in line for that wonderful, authentic Maine baked potato. Such a treat!”

The Maine potato industry is represented each year in the State of Maine building on the Avenue of States, where baked potatoes with all of the toppings are sold.

Every dollar made in net income from selling Maine baked potatoes at the Big E goes directly back into the potato industry, supporting education, research and grower activities.

“Sales have not been where we want them the past two or three years,” Flannery said. “The last few years the weather hasn’t been good. When you get a couple days of bad weather it is almost impossible to make up. But attendance was actually really good this year.”

Flannery said that nothing has changed about the way the Maine contingent serves their potatoes.

“It is the same variety of potatoes and the same toppings,” he said of the potatoes that are served. “Nothing has really changed at all.”

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