Explore Idaho’s Potato Culture and the History of Caxton Press During ‘DecemberFest’

Tune in Sunday, Dec. 5, beginning at 5:30 PM for DecemberFest, a single-night fundraising event featuring festive musical performances, new shows about Idaho history, and in-studio fun. Please consider supporting Idaho Public Television with your donation of any amount by calling (800) 980-4788 or donating online at idahoptv.org. Here are four captivating shows that you’ll enjoy during DecemberFest:

A CAPPELLA HOLIDAY MUSIC

The 10-man a cappella group Straight No Chaser returns in Straight No Chaser – Songs of the Decades: Holiday Edition (Dec. 5 at 5:30 PM). Their performance is a journey through the decades of the pop songbook, including nods to everyone from Little Anthony and the Imperials, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Four Seasons and Stevie Wonder, to The Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Boyz II Men and Coldplay.

The evening is full of the group’s unique wit and charm, innovative musical mashups and clever costuming touches. For this holiday edition, the guys also add some popular Yuletide favorites, including a side-splitting arrangement of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and their trademark version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

Show your support for Idaho Public Television and receive tickets to see Straight No Chaser when they perform in Boise on March 10, 2022. More info.

IDAHO’S POTATO COUNTRY

In Idaho, raising spuds is a traditional way of life. From planting to harvest, potato farming provides not only food but jobs, friends, family, community, culture, tradition and even fun. Dubbed the “potato state,” more than half of Idaho’s counties grow potatoes, producing 13 billion pounds a year. But beyond the numbers, what matters is potato harvest at sunset and the goodwill of Idaho’s agricultural community.

Outdoor Idaho spent the past year gathering dozens of interviews and thousands of video clips in order to showcase an entire year’s worth of potato growing. We’ve seen the brute force it takes to farm spuds. It’s not easy and it’s certainly not simple. And in Idaho, potatoes are big business, which means high risk and high reward. From potato farmers to potato scientists, we’ll hear from the people whose livelihoods are dependent on spuds.

“My appreciation for agriculture has skyrocketed since I began putting this show together,” said producer Lauren Melink. “It’s incredible the number of people it takes to ensure the entire potato operation goes off without a hitch. And all the offshoot businesses that are born from potatoes, like potato soap and potato vodka, it’s a bit mind-boggling when you think about it.”

There’s pride in Idaho potatoes, and Spud Country on Outdoor Idaho (Dec. 5 at 7 PM) gets to the root of that pride — uncovering how potatoes came to Idaho and why they’re still celebrated in the streets of our towns and cities.

THE STORIED HISTORY OF CAXTON PRESS

When J.H. Gipson joined his small family printing business in Caldwell in 1904, he was barely 20 and a junior high school dropout. Over the next six decades, Gipson would grow Caxton Printers into a successful publishing, printing and school-services company. Today, Caxton is thought to be the oldest independent publishing house west of the Rockies, and prints everything from books to ballots.

Caxton: An American Press on Idaho Experience (Dec. 5 at 8:30 PM) takes a closer look at Caxton Press, the publishing arm of the company. We see some of the unique books it’s published, and learn about the intriguing life of J.H. Gipson, who was an avid libertarian. It also follows the printing of the newest addition to Caxton’s booklist, Lucky: The Wit and Wisdom of Governor Phil Batt.

“I’ve always been fascinated with printing presses,” says producer Marcia Franklin. “And I’d read so many of Caxton’s books that I wanted to know more about that iconic company.”

The documentary also features Alessandro Meregaglia, an archivist at Boise State University who has uncovered new material about Caxton for a book he’s writing. Meregaglia shows the current publisher, Scott Gipson, letters between his great-grandfather J.H. and prominent Americans, letters Gipson had never seen before.

Today, the sixth generation of Gipsons — sisters Megan and Hannah — works at Caxton. The company has survived a fire, two world wars, the Great Depression and now a pandemic.

As Meregaglia says, “The history of Caxton printers is an Idaho story. And it’s a great story for the state, because it shows that this publisher in the middle of nowhere not only could survive, but even thrive.”

A CELTIC MUSIC CELEBRATION

Celtic Woman: Postcards From Ireland (Dec. 5 at 9:30 PM) represents the sentiment the all-female Irish music ensemble would like to share with their fans around the world — one of love, hope and expectation as the world looks forward to getting together once again. The sentiments could be written on a postcard, but here they are expressed in the music and songs from Celtic Woman’s latest album, Postcards From Ireland, performed at visually stunning locations around the Emerald Isle.

Postcards From Ireland features 13 brand new songs and is the group’s first new studio album since 2018’s Ancient Land. It features new arrangements of beautiful and iconic songs including “The Dawning of the Day,” “Wild Mountain Thyme,” “The Galway Shawl” and “Black Is the Colour.” The album also introduces newest member Muirgen O’Mahony, and includes a performance by British folk group The Longest Johns who join Celtic Woman on a version of Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing.”

Show your support for Idaho Public Television and receive tickets to see Celtic Woman when they perform in Boise on May 24, 2022. More info.

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