Maugerville's Big Potato needs a helping of TLC

·3 min read
Maugerville's Big Potato needs a helping of TLC
Maugerville's Big Potato needs a helping of TLC

For 51-years, the Big Potato has been waving at the thousands of vehicles that pass him by every day on what was once the Trans-Canada Highway outside Fredericton.

But all that Maugerville welcoming has left him a little weak in the knees. The potato is looking a little less chipper than usual, and needs to go under the knife.

"So we're looking for someone to come in and basically patch up all the cracks and basically, evaluate and see if there's any deeper issues," said Daniel Boudreau of Silver Valley farms. "Basically, give him a facelift and touch him up a little."

Cracks can be seen reaching up from the base of the famous highway spud. The condition of the plaster - on both of his faces - leaves him looking a little unappetizing.

Mike Heenan/CBC News
Mike Heenan/CBC News

Boudreau has put out an emergency call for the right person to fix up the aging, towering tuber.

"We just need somebody to come in and basically patch him up and make him so he's going to be good for the next twenty years," said Boudreau.

Mike Heenan/CBC News
Mike Heenan/CBC News

Built in 1969, the highway spud is spun from the same concrete and rebar as several other New Brunswick roadside attractions.

It was sculpted by Winston Bronnum, who also created the world's biggest lobster in Shediac and the creative critters in the former theme park Animaland in Penobsquis.

And last year, the Big Potato made his big TV debut in a CarMax commercial.

Mike Heenan/CBC News
Mike Heenan/CBC News

As popular he's been in recent years, one of his original owners says it pales in comparison to what it used to be.

"People would stop every minute or every two minutes, there wasn't a whole lot around back then," said Buzz Harvey, whose father had the sculptor originally commissioned. "It was quite a draw back then. We should have put a little cup up there. Got a quarter every time. We would have been rich."

Shane Fowler/CBC News
Shane Fowler/CBC News

Harvey himself was 15-years-old when the big spud popped up all those years ago.

"We had a big sign back then that said 'Harvey's Vegetable Drive In," said Harvey, describing a 12-foot-high placard that originally stood where the towering tuber stands now.

But it wasn't big enough. Customers and deliveries would often drive on by, missing the farm completely.

"Dad said 'We've got to do something'," said Harvey. So his father made a deal with Bronnum, who he'd been teaching to fly planes at the time.

Originally the big potato was going to be a gateway made from two tall cobs of concrete corn.

"But then dad said 'the backbone of our business has always been potatoes,'" said Harvey.

And for one-thousand dollars, a lot of money in the late 1960s, the big potato was born.

"It probably doubled our business within a year or two," said Harvey.

Harvey is still neighbours with the big potato and says he's happy knowing it's going to stand tall for years to come.