Giant potato basket sparks interest in tradition

10 years ago

  HOULTON, Maine — Whoever had the largest basket for picking potatoes by hand back in the day almost had an unfair advantage when it came to filling a barrel full of spuds.

After all, it is fairly safe to reason that the bigger the basket, the quicker the barrel got filled. So just imagine how many barrels the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Potato Basket” would fill.
The basket, which is owned by Ed and Dawn Degenhardt, was originally on display at the Degenhardt home on North Street. However, when so many people began pulling over to take a picture of the basket, which measures about 6-feet in diameter and stands more than 5-feet in height, the Degenhardts knew they had to find another home for their basket.
Enter Jane Torres at the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce who was more than happy to have the basket on display at the chamber’s front lawn on the corner of Main and Kendall streets.
The irony, however, is that the basket isn’t really a basket at all.
“It’s a Vietnamese fishing boat,” Torres explained. “They make round boats out of wicker and it was sent to Ed and Dawn from one of their daughters. Ed and Dawn thought it looked like a potato basket, so they put a handle on it to complete the look.”
The Degenhardts actually have two of the boats, with the other stationed at their camp. During the day, the basket is filled with nylon-stuffed “potatoes.” The potatoes are brought in each night, however, to avoid having them stolen.
“It’s just a great piece for people to come and take their picture by,” Torres said. “Everyone seems to enjoy it.”