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400 pounds of beans ready for Bean Hole Days

Four hundred pounds of beans are ready to fill five large cast iron kettles in anticipation of Bean Hole Days scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday at Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes.

Volunteers work on lowering the beans during last year's Bean Hole Days in Pequot Lakes. This year's Bean Hold Days will be Tuesday and Wednesday. (File Photo)
Volunteers work on lowering the beans during last year's Bean Hole Days in Pequot Lakes. This year's Bean Hold Days will be Tuesday and Wednesday. (File Photo)
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Four hundred pounds of beans are ready to fill five large cast iron kettles in anticipation of Bean Hole Days scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday at Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes.

Thousands of people flock to Pequot Lakes for the annual event as they share a free lunch of baked beans, a dinner roll and a beverage. The event begins with the Paddle Hunt and the first clue will be released at 9 a.m. Monday. At 6 p.m. Tuesday the baked beans are buried in the ground. The beans, prepared from Paul Bunyan's secret recipe behind locked doors, are buried in the cast iron kettles and cooked over a wood fire during the night.

The celebration culminates Wednesday, with the arts and craft fair running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. along the Paul Bunyan Trail. There are about 40 vendors this year.

The Queen and King Bean Coronation will be at 11:15 a.m. and new this year will be a Prince and Princess Jellybean.

The raising of the beans will be at 11:30 a.m. and they will be served at noon.

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Sue Galligan, event and communications manager of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said the event attracts between 4,000-6,000 people each year. She said there are many families who attend every year and people plan their trips around it.

"If you never attended Bean Hole Days before you should come to Pequot Lakes," Galligan said. "People can get their free bowl of beans and they'll have a great time ... It will be something to remember forever."

Bernice Rohde and Jeff Walden of Pequot Lakes, who were the chairpersons of the event for years, have handed over their reigns. The new chairs of the event this year are Kirk Larson and Cindy Hidde.

Rohde, who started out with Bean Hole Days by handing out buns years ago, said the new chairs are in charge of preparing/making the beans.

"I had to share the secret recipe with them," Rohde. "I made them pinkie swear to keep the recipe to themselves.

"The recipe is huge, there's brown sugar and molasses, the general stuff. It's all about the quantity on how much of it (brown sugar and molasses) on how sweet or salty the beans will be."

Rohde said the amount of each ingredients in the beans has to be just right for the perfect beans for Bean Hole Days and the original recipe goes way back.

"We have a folklore that water from Sibley Lake adds the icing on the cake," Rohde said. "The recipe was handed down from Jim Oraskovich, the former superintendent in Pequot Lakes, but the recipe goes further back."

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Larson, who agreed to doing the pinkie swear, said the mystery of the recipe is part of the reason why people come to Bean Hole Days.

"It's a highly guarded secret," Larson said of the recipe. "It's one of the allures of the event and makes people want to try them."

Being in charge and making the historic beans of Pequot Lakes does not make Larson nervous.

"I've been a part of this for six years with Jeff from start to finish," Larson said. "I'm not nervous. I'm a firefighter and can handle the heat ... and I love to cook.

"The only thing I'm concerned about is making sure we don't tip the kettle over."

Rohde said Larson and Hidde have both helped with the traditional event in years past, so Bean Hole Days is in good hands. Walden, even though he is not a chair anymore, will supervise the pit crew area to make sure the preparing, cooking and lowering of the beans goes well.

"It's fun and I'm proud of our community and sponsors who put on this event and to the bean company," said Rohde. "People go out of their way to bring us the beans and sometimes the beans have gotten lost because of bad weather. ... The beans have a story of their own."

Rohde said Bean Hole Days began as a thank you by the community and business owners as a celebration for when the lumberjacks and trades people would come through town.

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"There would be a community picnic and bury a pot of beans and everyone would eat," Rohde said. "It was a tradition in Pequot Lakes for many years until the community sent its boys to the world wars and then during the war it stopped. The local chamber resurrected the event in the early '70s and the one cast iron pot grew to five."

The Platinum Sponsor for the event is First National Bank.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter

Related Topics: BEAN HOLE DAYSPEQUOT LAKES
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