The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association is turning to a three-time Olympian and, in time for 2012 promotions, a “spudmobile” to get its message out.

Olympian to stump for Wisconsin spudsThe Antigo-based association recently hired Suzy Favor-Hamilton, a champion distance runner, as its spokeswoman.

Tim Feit, director of promotion and consumer education, said the association is looking forward to making full use of Hamilton, who grew up in Stevens Point, Wis., the heart of the state’s spud district.

“There are challenges with potatoes among people who don’t think they’re nutritious,” Feit said.

Who better to correct that misperception, Feit said, than a world-class athlete and mother who still makes her home in Wisconsin.

Favor-Hamilton lives in Madison, and as part of her duties, she will attend — and often compete in — running events and triathlons co-sponsored by the association.

She also will attend regional trade shows and could join association members at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention this fall in Atlanta, Feit said.

Favor-Hamilton will emphasize not only potatoes’ healthfulness but also the convenience of cooking with them and the importance of supporting local Wisconsin growers, Feit said.

Also new for the 2011-12 season, the association plans to introduce its own version of the Oscar Mayer “weinermobile.”

Sometime in 2012, the organization will roll out a spud on wheels for use at retail events, state and county fairs and other events, Feit said.

The “spudmobile” may have a built-in kitchen for demos.

Feit said association members have been kicking around the idea for years before finally approving it this year.

Also new this season, the association will man a booth at the New York Produce Show in November.

Feit attended the show last year and reported an abundant supply of buyers with whom Wisconsin shippers were eager to meet. Wisconsin is the No. 1 potato shipper east of the Mississippi.

The association plans to roll out a new convention show booth this year, which it will use at the New York show, PMA and other shows, Feit said.