In a journey throughout the United States greatly resembling adventures from James and the Giant Peach, the Tater Team managed to pull off an extraordinary week that was filled with memorable people and touching stories. It was a fitting start in Idaho where we traveled to the lands where our tubers first started and support would be inevitable. But even in Utah, support remained strong as we had great turnouts at our events in the Salt Lake City Area.
News of our presence spread fast in Twin Falls as the radio got many people to the Walmart of our first event. The Team interviewed for their very first time as they seemed to be naturals at talking about the tour and its incredible mission. And right from the start, this mission was making deep connections. Mel and Lee Rayborn made a special trip out to see the Great Potato and not only were they sporting their BSU attire, but they also had a story to share with us.
A while back, Mrs. Rayborn had to have back surgery. The healing time prevented her from being able to cook, leaving them no choice but to use the services of Meals on Wheels. But because their needs came from a limitation of physical abilities and not a lack of money, the couple made sure to donate $4.50 for every meal they were provided. This was a glimpse of how the Famous Idaho Potato Tour had the ability to positively affect the lively hoods of many people in Idaho and across the country.
After Twin Falls, the tour forged ahead to Idaho Falls, Blackfoot and Pocatello. The locations in Idaho Falls brought out many important supporters of the tour, including farmers, distributors, and commissioners. We were even surprised to see Tom Arnold’s twin brother, Ray Andrus, come out and see us.
On our way to Pocatello we stopped off in Blackfoot to compare ‘taters’ with the Idaho Potato Museum. Their baked potato was large and delicious looking, however, it was no match for its larger, nomadic counterpart. The brief stop enlightened and inspired the Tater Team as they prepared to leave the great state of Idaho.
After a great send off at the Walmart in Pocatello, the giant spud continued south, across the border, and into the unknown. Everyone was holding their breaths as they passed into uncharted territories outside of Idaho, wondering what kind of response they were to receive. But within moments the hesitation and concern was extinguished. The people of Utah were warm and welcoming as many came out to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission with us. The weather, on the other hand, was not as welcoming or as warm. We were greeted with a great snow storm, casting a sour cream-esque look on the Great Potato and testing the snow gear of the Tater Team.
But any initial hesitation by Utah’s Mother Nature was quickly subdued, and the warm days to follow seemed to show her smiling down upon The Team and their cause. Sunburns were delivered as The Team wrapped up the first of many weeks to come.