Potato Festival to have ‘Valley Vibe’


SPRING VALLEY — Downtown Spring Valley will be the place to have a “taterly” good time this weekend.

The 46th Spring Valley Potato Festival is set for Oct. 6-7 and there promises to be something that will “a-peel” to everyone.

Many items that feature potatoes, including the famous potato candy, potato soup, baked potatoes, French fries, Squealin’ taters, and potato sundaes will be available. More than 100 vendors are expected and entertainment will be featured throughout. There will be kids games and some art demonstrations, as well.

The festival — themed “Valley Vibe” — runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and parking is available for $5 at Walton Park at the corner of S.R. 725 and Main Street.

The 24th Annual Tater Trot 5k walk/run kicks things off on Saturday. Registration and packet pick up starts at 7 a.m. with the race beginning at 8 a.m. from Walton Park.

The baking contest begins at 10 a.m. with kids games on Main Street opening at 11 a.m. and music on the Bledsoe Park Main Stage beginning at 12 p.m. Toadstool Shadow is on from 12-2 p.m., followed by Alice Wagoner and Jenna King from 2:15-3:15 p.m., and the kid’s lip sync battle review from 3:30-4 p.m. Adam Elfers Music Experience is on from 5-6:45 p.m. and John Welton finishes the first day from 7-9 p.m.

Entertainment on Sunday includes the pet parade from 12-1 p.m., the Filthy Heathens from 1:15-3:15 pm., and Out of Order from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

The Citizen of the Year, Rhonda Christine Urschel, will be honored at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

In 1987, Urschel made the decision to move her young family to Spring Valley because it reminded her of her childhood hometown. At that time, there was low traffic and many local kids, and she felt it would be a great place to raise her children. She immediately got involved with ACTS (Association of Community and Township Services) as she wanted to be an active part of her community, and she has remained active ever since. During those days, she was the author of a Spring Valley neighborhood column for the Xenia Gazette, where she highlighted interesting events, residents, and history of Spring Valley.

She also composed the annual Potato Festival booklet, for which she hand-drew artwork, gathered all advertising and sponsor information, and printed and assembled each booklet — which was a huge task before home-based technology. She also actively volunteered at the Potato Festival, selling cookies, working the baked potato/potato soup booths, and being a festival runner.

After several years, Urschel decided to pursue her career and became a paraprofessional, and then a teacher, ultimately settling at Stephen Bell Elementary as a first grade teacher. After 25 years, Urschel retired from Bellbrook schools.

She is an election poll worker for the Spring Valley community, and can be seen there every election day. She helped to kick-start the Tree Committee and participated in the early Arbor Day celebrations by doing artwork/story time with the children. She hand-painted the “Rider’s Run” sign at the new park and continues to assist with the festival by helping make potato candy, prepping for the Mashed Potato Eating contest, working at the festival vendor check-in, and taking care of festival financials.

On Sunday, Spring Valley Global Methodist Church will have a service at 9:30 a.m., followed by the National Anthem by Renee Ponder at 11:45 a.m. At 2 p.m. the mashed potato tug of war takes place behind the main stage.

Put on by the Association of Community and Township Services, the festival attracts more than 10,000 people each year with proceeds supporting the Spring Valley Community Library, the fire department auxiliary, the ACTS Scholarship, preservation of the George Barrett Concrete House, maintenance of Bledsoe Park, as well as the gardens that line the Little Miami Bike path through Spring Valley.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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