Potato history, from the biggest chip to a potato signed by Dan Quayle, is encased in glass. An old harvester rusts behind a chain-link fence, and the smell of baked potatoes fills the old railroad station.
Idaho Potato Expo is open for another season.Everything from potato ice cream to potato fudge and potato cinnamon rolls are served at the museum dedicated to Idaho's No. 1 crop.
"It's an experience," expo director Sonya Thyberg said. "People are always looking for something to do. You can bring your entire family. . . . You can be proud of Idaho, because this is what Idaho's known for."
The potato expo's newest exhibit examines the life of a potato from the field to the store. Photographs and other items are on display show-ing the journey from farm to storage to the potato processors or fresh pack buyers.
Also new this year is a prototype for the first row harvester, which picked potatoes from the field. The 1940s-era machine allowed farmers to directly load potatoes into trucks. It was invented by Carl Johnson.
The piece adds to the museum's collection of farm machinery that includes vintage tools for digging, when potato harvesting was a backbreaking job. The museum also showcases photographs of the most modern potato harvesting equipment, made locally by Blackfoot's Milestone and Spudnik.
"It's a great education," said Rick Norton of Basic American Foods. "A lot of people have no idea what goes into growing potatoes and processing potatoes."
Norton works with new business development at Basic American Foods and has worked with the expo in the past. He said he is proud eastern Idaho sees the value in showcasing potato history, science and trivia.
"The overall vision is to enhance commerce of potato sales," he said. "It builds a little more creditability for Idaho potatoes."
Visitors receive a russet baked potato with butter and sour cream.
The expo's old slogan, "Free taters for out-of-staters," changed about two years ago, Thyberg said, to "free taters for everybody who pays to get into the museum."
Before the change, Thyberg estimated about four to five locals came to visit the museum.