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UND's Potato Bowl, Downtown Street Fair to fall on the same weekend

UND's Potato Bowl and the Downtown Street Fair fall on the same weekend this September, but organizers believe the two Grand Forks events will complement each other rather than conflict with each other.

2016.N.GFH.French fry feed
Colton Dahl walks away with three baskets of french fries to join his friends across University Park at Thursday's Potato Bowl french fry feed. (Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald)

UND's Potato Bowl and the Downtown Street Fair fall on the same weekend this September, but organizers believe the two Grand Forks events will complement each other rather than conflict with each other.

The street fair that attracted about 20,000 people last fall is in its second year and is set for Sept. 8 and 9, according to its sponsor, the Downtown Development Association. The 52nd annual Potato Bowl USA week kicks off Sept. 5. The main events, the parade and UND's football game against Missouri State University, are Sept. 9.

The tradition of holding a Potato Bowl started in 1966, when UND played Idaho State to see whose football program-and potatoes-were better. UND won the game.

UND's football conference sets the schedule years in advance, and the Potato Bowl game tends to fall on the first Saturday home game, which usually is in September. Last year, the week of events ran Sept. 12-17.

"Our date is entirely dependent on UND," said Ted Kreis, who is the head of the Potato Bowl's promotional committee. "Our dates have been set for quite some time. We didn't check with the street fair because we probably had (the Potato Bowl) scheduled before they had their event scheduled. We weren't aware of it."

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It's easier to attract vendors for events if the date is consistent; those vendors often have other annual events scheduled, said DDA Executive Director Sarah Prout. Last year, the street fair was Sept. 9-10, the second weekend in September. It attracted about 50 vendors, and with that number already in the reservation book, Prout is optimistic the street fair could double its vendor count this year.

"(The vendors) are scheduling their shows come January of that year, sometimes before that," she said. "It's really important to keep with your same date, and it just so happens that it falls on the same weekend as Potato Bowl."

Kreis expects the two events will complement each other and give people more options.

"There will be plenty of time to do both," he said. "We don't see it as a conflict at all. It is probably good for the community to have so many choices that weekend."

Prout agreed, saying two events will keep the city busy. She said it is important to have a lot of activities, especially when students are returning to school and the city can tap that potential for business.

"We're actually really excited for all of the activities happening downtown," she said. "You always hear about how there isn't enough to do in Grand Forks. I don't think people are going to have that argument during that weekend."

The parade put on by the KEM Shriners will begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 at the DeMers Avenue overpass. It will travel east through downtown Grand Forks and into East Grand Forks.

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