Mashup: 2018 Potato Bowl, Homecoming combined into one weekend
Grand Forks sports fans should mark off the weekend of Sept. 22 well in advance, if not that whole week. That's because the weekend is now set to host both the 2018 Potato Bowl and UND Homecoming--meaning that two of the biggest fall events in Gr...
Grand Forks sports fans should mark off the weekend of Sept. 22 well in advance, if not that whole week.
That's because the weekend is now set to host both the 2018 Potato Bowl and UND Homecoming-meaning that two of the biggest fall events in Grand Forks are being paired for one major celebration.
Kyle Doperalski, a representative of UND Athletics, said the programs were being combined to follow the home schedule for UND football. In past years, the Saturday kickoff to the home schedule usually serves as the weekend for the Potato Bowl, a UND football tradition that began in 1966.
However, this year, the first home game falls on a Thursday.
Doperalski said the timing shift complicated the usual run of events organized by volunteers representing the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, the farm group that has driven the bowl tradition through the years. The week leading up to the Potato Bowl game is marked by events culminating in a citywide parade the day of the game.
"To have the game be on Thursday doesn't fit the formula," Doperalski said. "They wanted the game to be on a Saturday, which bumped it into Homecoming territory."
He said the decision was made last summer to roll ahead with scheduling the big weekends to coincide. Todd Phelps, Northern Plains representative and Potato Bowl chairman, said the tater representatives have yet to start meetings with the campus Homecoming committee to hash out the details of how the events will complement each other. But that process is set to begin with a meeting next week.
Phelps said one of the key themes to the Potato Bowl side of things will be the history behind the weekend's football matchup.
The visiting rival this year is set to be Idaho State University-that's the same team UND played in the inaugural spud match, which set the two schools from major potato-growing regions eye-to-eye. By the time the dust cleared, the local team had fried their competition.
"We're probably going to tie that in somehow ... that it's a rematch of the original," Phelps said, adding that the bowl committee is excited to see what the dual event holds.
Homecoming is largely organized by students with some support from the UND Alumni Association and Foundation. Milo Smith, communications director of the foundation, said the organization was looking forward to seeing what the coming festivities would bring, both in terms of new ideas and old favorites, such as the Potato Bowl french fry feed and the Sioux Award ceremony.
"This could be a chance to build on both events to have a really cool week," Smith said.