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Pequot Lakes: A city full of beans

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PEQUOT LAKES — Bake 400 pounds of beans overnight underground, using a secret recipe, stir them up with a canoe paddle and serve it for free to about 2,500 people on a beautiful summer day and good times are bound to follow.

That was the recipe for success Wednesday as locals and out-of-towners at Trailside Park waited patiently, cup in hand, in a serpentine line as part of 2013 Bean Hole Days.

No one seemed precisely sure when the curious festival started but Kathie Harman, who works at the Pequot Lakes office of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, said her research sets the date at 1938 when downtown merchants wanted to show their appreciation to area farmers and others they did business with by cooking a them a free meal of beans.

The spirit of gratitude lives on according to Bernice Rohde, co-chair of the event.

“It’s the community giving back to the tourists,” she said.

Donna Walden, who has lived in the Pequot Lakes area for 17 years, agreed.

“It’s good to see small town America in action.”

Marianne Benson, who lives in the Twin Cities but has a home on Ossawinnamakee Lake, found herself at the end of a long line of bean-seekers. She said it was the first time she attended the event and said it seemed like “something different to do.”

Another newcomer, 10-year-old Luke Lillehei of Newport News, Va., said the beans were good but offered a facial expression that indicated he may have just been being polite. The young man, vacationing in the area with his grandparents, said he isn’t usually a fan of beans. While visiting the Pequot Lakes area he has gone fishing, tubing and has picked strawberries.

“I wouldn’t expect them to put them in the ground,” he said of the unusual method of preparation for the beans.

Ione Schaaf of Pequot Lakes said Bean Hole Days has become bigger since she first moved to town.

“It used to be little,” she said. “It’s just grown and grown since 1981. There’s people that come back every year.”

A contingent of women from Gloria Dei Lutheran Church found a shady spot where they sold their pies, breads and cookies.

“These ladies of Gloria Dei are wonderful bakers,” Berniece Hinkie of Nisswa said. “The pies go first.”

A king and queen were crowned to reign over the day’s proceedings. Crowned as king was Tyler Tappe, a 6’1” Pequot Lakes High school athlete and crowned as queen was Mary Peterson, co-owner of Tasty Pizza North in Pequot Lakes, who described herself as “4’ 9’’ maybe.”

Hugo Heino, who was born west of Pine River but grew up and lived most of his life in Pequot Lakes, said his legs sometimes bother him and he was glad he only had to wait a half-hour or so in line. He said words failed him when he tried to describe the taste of the familiar Bean Hole beans.

Heino, 86, still lives in Pequot Lakes but spends winters in Florida. He said he doesn’t see as many familiar faces at the event as he did in days gone by.

“My trouble is if I want to see old friends I got to look at the gravestones,” Heino said. “The people who are dying now — I know their dads.”

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860