Vintage Photos – 1940 Presque Isle Barrel Rolling Contest
It was on a Thursday in early October of 1940, that Presque Isle residents took a break from the potato harvest to celebrate the first international potato barrel rolling contest.
Jack Delano was traveling across the country for the Farm Security Administration, and captured these photographs of the event and the spectators on Main Street in Presque Isle.
It began with a grand parade.
The caption on this photo noted this float was supposed to open up to reveal a girls' majorette troupe, but the mechanism got stuck.
Free at last!
The parade route ended at the towering 'pototem pole,' which was kept from toppling with wires strung to the roofs of nearby businesses.
Musical fanfare from the school marching band.
The mighty tower of potato barrels.
Here are a few photos of the local folks who came out to watch the competition that day. There's something familiar about some of these faces, don't you think?
The contest began with the official weighing of the barrels. Each full potato barrel weighed 200 pounds.
The photo caption on this one says,"James Day, ace barrel roller and idol of Aroostook boys."
Getting ready for the boys' barrel rolling contest.
Apparently, the girls didn't get to show off their barrel rolling skills, although some did have the noble task of carrying potatoes on sticks. And as experience tells us, you can hurl a potato pretty far off the end of a good stick.
The main event.
Some proud barrel rolling team members.
And some proud Aroostook County potato farmers.
The excitement mounts.
Waiting at the finish line.
The final heat with full barrels.
Apparently, the heralded champion James Day didn't win the event but bowed to the skills of another local barrel rolling expert.
A local boy scout holding the string at the finish line.
That evening, the mid-harvest celebration continued with a street dance on Main Street in Presque Isle, with guys and gals (mostly gals) doing the 'jitterbug.'
Wait, I thought YOU were leading.
Do Aroostook County guys even dance?
Boy, the way Glenn Miller played!
More of Jack Delano's photographs can be found in the Library of Congress.