The location of one of the Treasure Valley’s iconic events is in doubt, after organizers walked out of a city of Boise meeting in dramatic fashion.
The Idaho Potato Drop, a New Year’s celebration featuring the aerial descent of a gigantic potato, had applied for a permit at the Capitol Mall, but may find itself dropping on the other side of the valley after tensions reached a boiling point at the city’s Special Events Committee meeting Wednesday.
Sandi Nahas, an organizer for the Potato Drop, said the event was held in Nampa last year because of the pandemic. It’s also been held at various locations in Boise, including the Capitol Mall in 2019.
While the meeting started calmly, organizers balked when committee members asked for an estimated attendance. The event typically drew thousands of people before the COVID-19 pandemic, but Dylan Cline, the event’s founder, declined to give a specific number.
“I would not feel comfortable guessing,” Cline said.
Nahas told the committee that the event does not normally sell tickets, except for 250 for a VIP section, and that it was “impossible” to give a headcount.
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean in September ordered that all permitted events with more than 250 people require attendees to show proof of vaccinations or negative tests upon entry, and require masks outdoors if social distancing cannot be maintained.
Large events must have “ambassadors” tasked with enforcing COVID-19 restrictions and sanitation stations throughout the area. Event organizers must submit low-traffic-flow plans to the city beforehand.
Nampa does not have vaccine or mask requirements for large events. Eventually, Cline held up his hands and said: “I think we’re good here — I think we’re going to move it out to Nampa.”
He hinted that his consternation with the city extends back for multiple years.
“We’ve been working our a**** off for a decade and all we do is get kicked in the face,” he continued, before leaving the meeting altogether.
Nahas told the Statesman on Friday that a location still hasn’t been finalized but said it could still be held at the Capitol Mall in the future. She said COVID-19 requirements have not steered the event toward one possible location over another.
She also said a sticking point had been complaints from businesses on Bannock Street, some of which had complained at prior events. Part of the street has to be closed during the event.
She said organizers are planning for possible events in either Boise or Nampa, and that the Potato Drop will go on one way or another this year.
The walkout was first reported by the Idaho Press.