Did you know Wisconsin is the third largest producer of potatoes in the country? And that a potato has more potassium than a banana? The Wisconsin potato industry is alive and thriving, especially during the eleven days of the Wisconsin State Fair. Jody Baginski, board member of the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary and coordinator of the baked potato booth shared more information about the baked potato stand at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Baginski has been involved in the potato booth since 1999 and became the coordinator in 2008. Over the years she has had dedicated volunteers that return each year to help make the stand a success. She notes that it takes 14 people to run the booth smoothly on any given day.
“We go through numerous boxes of butter and bacon bits,” says Baginski. “We go through about 35 cases of cheese and each case has four bags of cheese sauce. When it comes to the potatoes, we go through roughly 650 to 750 pounds of potatoes.”
Baginski sources the potatoes locally from Alsum Farms and their butter from Grassland Butter. They also work with Gehls to source their cheese as well as Performance Foods for all of their other needs.
“All of the money that we raise in our potato booth, we use for promoting potatoes in Wisconsin,” explains Baginski. “The auxiliary is personally responsible for a program we started called Kids Dig Wisconsin Potatoes. It’s a curriculum for fourth grade where we’ll send teachers seed potatoes and they actually can grow potatoes in their classroom.”
The money also helps support other efforts such as their Spud Mobile, high school curriculum opportunities, and scholarships.