Potato Jack Pemberton's fave mascot 

Submitted to Mercer Report contest

Will the road to Canada’s greatest mascot travel through Pemberton? France Lamontagne, a volunteer with the Pemberton Valley Winter Festival, certainly hopes it will.

Lamontagne has submitted Potato Jack, pictured above, as the ideal candidate for the honour to be bestowed by Rick Mercer of The Mercer Report. Mercer, who made a name for himself on This Hour Has 22 Minutes with such features as "Talking to Americans", has cast his eye for the absurd to the task of determining the country’s best mascot.

Announcing the contest online, Mercer wrote: "Canada is a modest country. Reluctant to acknowledge its artists, its scientists, its great orators. But, there's one group that is the most neglected. They hold together communities across the country, and do it with a smile and fun fur... and, usually, googly eyes. They are our mascots. It's time to end the neglect. And so we’re searching for... Canada's Greatest Mascot."

Mercer, Canada’s favourite faux journalist and cultural critic, has invited people to "send pictures, video and Haiku" to support their nominations. The winner will receive a trip for two to see a taping of The Mercer Report at the Ceeb’s Toronto broadcast centre. Potential contestants will be featured on upcoming episodes of Mercer’s Tuesday evening show. (The show will be suspended to facilitate coverage of the Torino Winter Olympics, but will be back on air Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. with a "Best Of…" episode.

Pemberton’s Potato Jack came to life in the fall of 2004 as an initiative of the local Spirit of B.C. Community Committee. In conjunction with the Pemberton Winterfest, the committee asked students at Signal Hill Elementary to design a mascot that would be a recognizable figure for the future in all of Pemberton’s Spirit of B.C. functions.

From his rounded cowboy hate to his bandana and cowboy boots, Potato Jack sprung courtesy of students in Mrs. Wallace’s life skills class.

The Spirit committee was impressed and felt that Potato Jack was truly representative of the community. The consensus was that the anthropomorphic tuber reflected the western and agricultural values of the town continentally famous for its seed potatoes.

Vancouver costume designer Mitchell McKay took Potato Jack from page to a more than six-foot tall, cuddly, three-dimensional character.

You can lobby for Potato Jack to be recognized as Canada’s greatest mascot by emailing: mercercontest@cbc.ca or snail mailing to Rick Mercer Report, C/O Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, P.O. Box 500, Stn. "A", Toronto, ON, M5W 1B6.

In the meantime, you’ll be able to catch up with the talented tuber for some "spudtacular" fun at this weekend’s Pemberton Valley Winter Festival, Feb. 10-12 in various venues across the community.

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