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(Elizabeth City, N.C., April 14, 2008) – In 1963, Fannie Leary of Camden, N.C. peeled eight pounds, four ounces of potatoes in 10 minutes. Her skill so impressed judges of the Albemarle Potato Festival’s National Potato Peeling Contest that she won the overall prize. Today, the festival has a new name and Leary’s daughter, Pauline Berard, carries on the family tradition by organizing the competition – a highlight of the NC Potato Festival set for May 17 in Elizabeth City.
"The contest is a tribute to the region’s potato farmers," said Berard, who noted that farming families, civic clubs, student groups and even state legislators have rolled up their sleeves to vie for the prize. "They get quite competitive."
In addition to the potato-peeling contest, the NC Potato Festival will feature the "Anything But Fries" potato cook-off, a live show by The Embers and other groups, a United States Coast Guard fly over, sail boat races, performances by actors from The Lost Colony outdoor drama, children’s activities, the Spring Sprint 5K Fun Run and 3K Walk – and a special appearance by the pirate Blackbeard. There’s also the "Little Miss Tater Tot Pageant," during which child contestants, dressed in their best potato-picking attire, are judged on poise, personality and other criteria.
And if you’re wondering what happens to all those peeled potatoes, get in line! Festival volunteers deep fry the spuds and pass them out free throughout the day. For information about the N.C. Potato Festival call Elizabeth City Downtown at (252) 338-4104. Or contact the Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitor Bureau (www.DiscoverElizabethCity.com) at 1-866-324-8948.
In addition to the NC Potato Festival, the Elizabeth City area is also serving up these spring events:
15th Annual Tarwheel Century Bicycle Race
More than 250 cyclists will convene in Elizabeth City for this 100-mile bicycle ride through the scenic countryside of Pasquotank and neighboring counties. For race information call the Cycle Gallery at (252) 338-1559 or download a race from at www.rivercitycyclingclub.com
Life on the Albemarle Colonial Homestead
See what life was like for the Albemarle area’s first settlers as re-enactors and interpreters demonstrate a pre-home encampment complete with cooking, clothing and more. Try your hand a candle dipping, butter making and try on clothing from the Colonial period. The Museum of the Albemarle (www.museumofthealbemarle.com) hosts this free event. Call (252) 335-1453.
Paddle for the Border
Nearly 300 kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts will paddle along the Dismal Swamp Canal from the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center in Camden County, N.C. to the Virginia border. The two states work together to host this fifth annual event, sponsored by the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, Dismal Swamp State Park, Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and the city of Chesapeake. For information call (252) 771-8333.
May 4 – 28
Arts of the Albemarle Annual Photography Competition
Images of the region’s photographers are the focus of Arts of the Albemarle’s (www.artsofthealbemarle.com) juried photography competition and show. Photographers may submit two entries for a $10.00 fee. Hours are 10:00 am – 5:00 pm on weekdays (open until 7:00 pm on Thursdays). Admission is free. Call (252) 338-6455.
June 6 – 7
Elizabeth City 300 National Truck and Tractor Pull
Imagine pulling a 6,200-pound tractor or a 7,000-pound stock car! Contestants do just that – and more – at this nationally-sanctioned truck and tractor pull that draws hundreds of spectators to Morgan’s Corner. $15.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 6-12. For information, call (919) 332-7111 or go to www.tpull.com
June 6 – 8
3rd Annual Carolina Cup Powerboat Regatta
Powerboats racers take to the water for this rip-roaring race on the Elizabeth River. Races will be held from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, along with entertainment, food and fun. Admission for spectators is free. Contact the Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitor Bureau (www.DiscoverElizabethCity.com) at 1-866-324-8948.
The Independent: Freedom of the Press Symposium
The Museum of the Albemarle will present a symposium and exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Independent, a former Elizabeth City newspaper, and its legendary editor, W. O. Saunders. In addition to biting editorials and outspoken views, Saunders was famous for helping lay the groundwork for many North Carolina landmarks, including the Wright Brothers Memorial, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and The Lost Colony outdoor drama. Contact the Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitor Bureau (www.DiscoverElizabethCity.com) at 1-866-324-8948.
Elizabeth City is located in northeastern North Carolina on the Pasquotank River, halfway between Norfolk, Va., and the Outer Banks. Elizabeth City has six National Register Historic Districts and is home to the Museum of the Albemarle, Arts of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City State University Planetarium and Port Discover Hands-on Science Center. Nature-based travelers are drawn to the area’s proximity to the Dismal Swamp and the abundance of outdoor recreational offerings. For travel information and suggested itineraries, call the Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-866-ECity-4U (1-866-324-8948) or (252) 335-5330 or go to www.DiscoverElizabethCity.com