They Cook Beans In A Giant Hole In The Ground At One Of Minnesota’s Quirkiest Festivals
Minnesota is home to dozens of unique community festivals, highlighting pieces of their history, culture, or local geography. Some of these events, like the Deer River Wild Rice Festival or Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest, emphasize food as a central focus of the festival.
Another one of Minnesota's food-centered community celebrations also happens to be one of the quirkier events on the calendar every year. To add a little extra quirkiness, the town that holds this annual event also happens to have one of the most unique water towers in all of Minnesota.
Pequot Lakes, nestled in the heart of Minnesota's Brainerd Lakes Area has been holding a wildly unique festival every year since 1938 that centers around beans, of all things.
What the heck is Bean Hole Days?
What would someone name a bean-centered event? Bean Hole Days, of course! Why "Bean Hole Days" and not just "Bean Days"? This is where the quirkiness steps up a notch. Organizers cook giant cast-iron pots of beans in a hole in the ground. The pots are heated in a wood-fire pit, covered overnight, and served as the centerpiece of the event.
The event, held at Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes, includes a lot of fun beyond the musical fruit. There's a craft fair, music, kids' activities, and even a crowning of the King & Queen Bean.
From its humble beginnings, this event has grown to a point where sizable crowds flock to the small town each year for this quirky festival.
How did Bean Hole Days get its start?
While there quite literally is a bean hotbed at the core of this event, Pequot Lakes isn't exactly a bean hotbed in terms of being known as a place where beans are grown, processed, or anything else like that. So, how did this event get its start?
Back in 1938, a local businessman hosted a bean feed to thank farmers for their support of businesses in the area. The small celebration grew in scale and reputation over the years, with thousands gathering in more recent years to enjoy all of the bean-related fun.
Even a Minnesota Governor has eaten "Bean Hole Days" beans!
While I am unsure if other governors have attended Bean Hole Days over the years since it started, Jesse Ventura got to try some ground-cooked beans back in 2001.
Now, to be fair, they weren't technically "Bean Hole Days" beans (because it wasn't actually during Bean Hole Days), but the city of Pequot Lakes and neighboring Breezy Point teamed up to host the 2001 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener. On the menu for the pre-opener meal were ground-cooked Bean Hole Days-style beans, along with other foods prepared by local volunteers.
I actually was part of the food crew helping out that day, and got to shake Jesse's hand after the meal! I didn't ask what he thought of the beans, but I did get to say hello as he and his team thanked all of the volunteers.
What's on the docket for Bean Hole Days activities?
Bean Hole Days is technically a two-day festival, with day one seeing the "burying of the beans" on the evening before the main events. This year, that will be happening at 5:30 on Tuesday, July 18, 2023.
Crews will lower 5 large cast-iron kettles of beans into the ground to allow them to cook overnight before a crowd of thousands shows up the next day to feast. Here's a photo from the 2022 "burying of the beans".
Day two is when all of the action happens, with this year's festivities kicking off at 9 am on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The schedule of events includes a craft fair with food vendors from 9 am to 2 pm, with kids activities like a trampoline jump, Water Wars, and other fun from 9 am to 4 pm.
The crowning of the King & Queen Bean happens at 11:30 am, followed by the declaration that the beans are ready to eat and beans getting served up at noon, along with a dinner roll and water as part of the meal.
Music kicks off at noon for the 2023 event as well as the event wraps up later in the afternoon. For people that would like to get to-go beans, the festival's organizers even have a drive-up/pick-up option with to-go containers waiting at a pickup point in a parking lot near the festivities.