On September 24, 1966, the very first Potato Bowl football game was played at Memorial Stadium and was billed as a battle between two of the largest potato growing regions in the United States (Idaho and the Red River Valley).  The idea of creating a week of festivities to celebrate potatoes and football was the brainchild of UND Athletic Director Len Marti, Head Football Coach Marv “Whitey” Helling, Assistant Football Coach Jerry Olson and Sports Information Director Lee Bohnet. In that first game in 1966, the Fighting Sioux thumped Idaho State 41-0.  UND is 41-13 in its first 54 Potato Bowl games.


Potato Bowl USA 2021 Ambassadors

Linnea Grotte is a 2020 graduate of Thompson (ND) High School and is currently starting her sophomore year at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks .  At UND, Linnea is studying plant and food science with a career goal of becoming a plant breeder.  

At Thompson High School, Linnea was an honor student and graduated with a 3.9 GPA.  She participated in the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), the National Honor Society, SADD (Students Against Destructive Behavior), chess club, athletics, band, choir, FHA, theatre groups,  student council and Girls State.


Linnea has done  volunteer work for these organizations: The Northland Rescue Mission, Altru Hospital, Valley Memorial Homes, the Grand Fork Backpack Program and the CVIC.


Linnea is the daughter of Kelly and Joni Grotte from Thompson, ND. 

Elias Markesun is a 2021 graduate of Park River (ND) High Scholl where he was an honor student with at 3.95 GPA.  Elias plans to attend NDSU this fall to pursue a major in Ag Economics. He would like to return to the Park River community after graduation.

In high school Elias was on the A Honor Roll all four years, a member of the National Honor society and President of the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) his senior year. He also participated in golf, football, hockey, band and choir.

Volunteer work included planting trees in the community, teaching young hockey players and tutoring for the National Honor Society.  Other volunteer work included grooming the Park River cross country ski trail, working at the Park River hockey arena and the Park River baseball complex, charity fund raising and serving meals at his church.

Elias is the son of Jon and Shannon Markusen of Park River, ND.


2021 Potato Bowl Grand Marshal
Fritz Pollard III

Fritz Pollard III from Frederick, MD is this year's Potato Bowl Grand Marshal.  Pollard III is the son of former UND alum and Olympic medalist, Fritz Pollard Jr. (Photo left)

Frederick "Fritz" Pollard Jr. was part of the University of North Dakota Athletics Hall of Fame's initial class after a standout career in football, boxing and track and field. In 1939, he was one of the school's first African American graduates.
Pollard Jr. was a triple-threat football star, earning all-conference honors three times and was named to the Little All America team in 1938. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic track team, winning a bronze medal in the high hurdles in the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin, Germany, despite a serious leg injury suffered aboard ship en route to Berlin. He was leading the race, but tripped over the next-to-last hurdle and still finished third.
UND's High Performance Center was recently renamed the Frederick "Fritz" D. Pollard Jr. Athletic Center. "It feels great to know he is being recognized in this way," said Fritz Pollard III, son of Fritz Pollard Jr. "I know how much my dad loved going to the University and visiting after he graduated. He just loved it up there. It's a tremendous honor for him to have his name on a building."
After serving in the Army during World War II, Pollard Jr. taught physical education in Chicago. He later worked as human relations commissioner under Mayor Richard J. Daley. During the Kennedy administration, he began working for the U.S. State Department, coordinating goodwill visits abroad by U.S. athletes. Fritz Pollard Jr. died in 2003.


Potato Bowl USA Committee Members

  • Todd Phelps, Chairman – Valley Potato Grower Magazine - Golf Tournament

  • Jacey Kuersteiner, Secretary – NPPGA

  • Scott Lund – Simplot French Fry Feed

  • Christian Batalden – Simplot

  • Lucas Bergeson – Simplot

  • Ryan Scott – KEM Shrine Potato Bowl Parade

  • Julie Kirkeby – Choice Health & Fitness - “Get Wet And Run Wild”

  • Ted Kreis, NPPGA - Website 

  • Lauren Huff – Thomsen Homes Kid's Zone

  • Jeff Westrem – All Hugo’s Sponsored Events

  • Jeff Lazur, Associate Potato Growers - NPPGA Baked Potato Feed

  • Bob Prodzinski – KEM Shrine Potato Bowl Parade

  • Nicole Brush - UND

  • Mike Mathison – iHeart Media Advertising Rep 

  • Misty Paul – Advertising Rep Leighton Broadcasting

  • Sasha Leibold - Advertising Rep Leighton Broadcasting