While it may be rainy and cold, the smell of potatoes is in the air as Potato Bowl Week kicks off at UND.

The Potato Bowl celebrates the potato industry in North Dakota. The first Potato Bowl was held in 1966 when teams from two of the largest potato-growing regions in the United States, Idaho and the Red River Valley, faced off in a football game at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks. UND beat Idaho State 41-0 in the first Potato Bowl game.

"This is one of those signature town-and-gown events for Grand Forks, the region and the state of North Dakota," UND spokesman David Dodds said. "We band together and celebrate something that is important to us."

This year the Fighting Hawks will take on Sam Houston State at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Alerus Center. Last year, the Hawks stunned then-No. 5 SHSU in a 24-23 victory in Huntsville, Texas. UND is 1-1 this season after beating Drake in the opener before falling 38-7 to in-state rival North Dakota State last week.

For the third time in five years, construction has forced the Kem Shrine Potato Bowl Parade to move from its regular home on DeMers downtown to University Avenue.

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In 2015 and 2017, bridge construction caused the move; this year the complete re-construction of DeMers Avenue downtown necessitated the move. In 2020, the rebuilding of Town Square may once again come into play, according to the Potato Bowl’s website.

Last year, the Potato Bowl was combined with UND’s homecoming week for a large celebration and parade downtown.

This year’s parade will begin at North 14th Street, just past Washington Street near Knutson Printing. The parade will go down University Avenue, ending at University Park. The parade is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday.

The grand marshal of the parade will be Paul Dolan from Grafton,N.D.

Dolan retired last December after managing the Associated Potato Growers for the past 25 years, according to the Potato Bowl website. APGI is by far the largest fresh shipping operation in the Red River Valley with plants in Grand Forks, Grafton and Drayton. Those plants are supplied by approximately 30 red and yellow potato growers representing 17 farming operations.

“Paul was a well respected leader among the 15 fresh shippers in the Red River Valley,” the Potato Bowl website says. “Bringing together competitors for the good of all was not always easy, but Paul was up to the task.”

UND officials are considering a contingency plan of moving the annual French Fry Feed, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, to UND’s Hyslop Sports Center in the event of a downpour, according to Dodds. However, nothing had been confirmed as of Tuesday afternoon.

For a full list of Potato Bowl activities go to https://www.potatobowl.org/week-at-a-glance/.