Tourism for Elizabeth City, NC
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Elizabeth City from the Locals' Point of View

Dig into the North Carolina Potato Festival

Hungry for a weekend of homegrown fun and free fries? Head to Elizabeth City for the North Carolina Potato Festival, May 19 – 21, 2017, which will please both your taste buds and your desire to have a good time! The farm lands along the Albemarle Sound are among the state’s major potato-growing areas. This family-friendly festival, founded in 1940, started as a tribute to local farmers and has grown into a three-day event. Offering stellar entertainment, potato-based games, and delicious food that attract over 30,000 celebrants annually to Elizabeth City, the Potato Festival is non-stop action, activity and entertainment from the first minute to the last.


2017 Potato Festival Logo commemorating Naval Air Station Weeksville

Each year, the festival organizers select a different festival theme. “We’re excited to be celebrating our airship heritage this year,” says Deborah Malenfant, Executive Director of Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc. “Our theme is the 75th anniversary of the commissioning of Naval Air Station Weeksville. The local hangar is the only remaining steel airship hangar built during World War II. NAS Weeksville’s airships played a vital role in German U-Boat spotting during World War II.” While at the festival, stop in at Museum of the Albemarle in the downtown area to learn more about the local history.


Dancing and Singing at the Main St. Stage at Potato Festival

We have scoured the potato fields and dug up some great music for you! Live music is a signature aspect of the festival as the event organizers pride themselves on signing emerging bands. Some of the headlining performers over the three-day event include The Railers (country), Dark Water Rising (rocky soul), SaraJane McDonald and SweetFire (country), John Emil (blues), and Delta Son (southern folk) with The Church Sisters (bluegrass) closing out the festival.


In addition to nibbling on home-cooked fries and enjoying the rides, festival-goers can watch the wildly popular National Potato Peeling and cheer on their favorite teams; the ‘Little Miss Tater Tot’ Contest;  the Mashed Potato Eating Contest; the Cornhole Tournament; the Evening Street Fair and Dance; a fireworks display; an antique tractor and potato equipment exhibit; and an auto and bike show.


U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Demonstration at Potato Festival

The United States Coast Guard also plays a big role in the festival. It is the coordinator of a 5K run/walk on May 20, the popular ‘Search and Rescue’ demonstration, and patrol boat tours. Elizabeth City is proud to be a Coast Guard City!


Mark your calendars and bring your appetite. The festival is open May 19 from 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm; May 20 from 10:00 am – 11:00 pm; and May 21 from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm. For more information and a complete lineup of live entertainment, visit the festival’s Facebook page or visit It’s all things potato—all weekend long.

Christina Rehklau, Director of the CVB, left the corporate world about five years ago to persuade others to take more vacation time by working in tourism. Christina is a recent northern transplant from Ohio, so she’s still working on her Carolinian accent. To her, every day in the Albemarle region presents a new adventure and something to be explored. Follow her explorations of the area on Twitter at @CLRehklau or Instagram at @crehklau.