Children make potato derby cars at 2021’s Oktuberfest. The potato derby will be ready to race this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Rexburg Tabernacle. | Courtesy Jed Platt.
REXBURG — Imagine live bluegrass music, dancing, food and games on a beautiful, temperate autumn day on the grounds of one of Rexburg’s oldest and most cherished sites.
The Rexburg Cultural Arts Department and the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce hope that’s a winning formula for a burgeoning tradition they’re calling “Oktuberfest.” The play on words combines traditional fall harvest, Oktoberfest-type festivities with a celebration of the potato (or “tuber”) industry in the Upper Valley.
Oktuberfest will be held this Saturday, Oct. 15, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the grounds of the historic Rexburg Tabernacle Civic Center at 51 N. Center Street in Rexburg.
“Oktuberfest is a celebration of our local farmers, the potatoes they work so hard to grow, and our community that comes together to make the harvest happen,” says Rexburg Cultural Arts event planner Kaatia Larsen.
Bluegrass band leader Vince Crofts of Firth has gathered a group of musicians to provide the entertainment for the evening. Crofts and his associates regularly perform in Jackson, Wyoming, and for local Melaleuca events and are planning to put on a great show for the Rexburg community.
Potato derby cars can be built for style or for speed. The community is invited to race potatoes at Oktuberfest this Saturday at the Rexburg Tabernacle. | Courtesy Jed Platt.
For the latter part of the evening, the band will be joined by Elizabeth Fuller, an experienced dance caller who will lead the crowd in dancing the Virginia Reel as well as a traditional waltz and other reel dances.
Rexburg Cultural Arts Director Jed Platt says next year, he’d love to attempt a world record for the most people dancing together in a Virginia Reel. This year will be a practice run.
A baked potato bar will be available for $4, and a dutch oven peach cobbler for $5.
The tabernacle grounds will be alive with games and activities for all ages, including a potato derby track (like a pinewood derby, but with cars fashioned from potatoes), potato stamp art, potato musical chairs, a poetry creation station, a “quick draw” art station and target shooting with potato guns.
Organizers hope to attract longtimers and newcomers, as well as Rexburg’s university student community.
“This event is for everyone,” Larsen says. “When we planned the festival, we were careful to make sure we came up with fun activities for the whole community. We want everyone to come, celebrate the harvest, be together, and have a wonderful time.”
The city and the chamber took a risk planning an outdoor activity in Rexburg for mid-October when it is not unusual to have wintry weather in the Upper Valley, but forecasts look sunny and beautiful for the event.
“The weather for Saturday’s event looks great,” Larsen says. “Wear your flannels for when it starts to cool off and come prepared to dance, so you won’t notice night coming on. We’ll be having a blast until 8 p.m.”
For more information on Oktuberfest and other Rexburg events, visit RexburgArts.org or RexburgChamber.org.
Create your own potato art this Saturday at Oktuberfest in Rexburg. | Courtesy Jed Platt.
The grounds of the Rexburg Tabernacle will be alive with music, dancing, food, and games this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Courtesy Jed Platt.
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