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Bean Day Celebration Centennial

Submitted by on August 8, 2010 – 11:53 pmNo Comment

There aren’t many culinary events that can claim more than 100 years of celebrations, but Bean Day in Wagon Mound, New Mexico, is one of ‘em (the photo’s from 1939).

This historic event — now held on Labor Day Weekend (September 3-6, 2010) — began in 1909 when Higinio Gonzales and his crew cooked up a pot of beans in wash boilers behind the school house for what was then called the Mora County Farmers Harvest Jubilee. The following year, the name “Bean Day” was adopted to honor the crop that was — back then –a staple of the local farming economy.

These days, Road Trips Foodies, few pinto beans are grown in the area, so the dried beans are hauled down from Colorado for the September 3 kick off. On that Friday evening, the Wagon Mound Firehouse hosts a bean-cleaning party to remove rocks and dirt from the dried beans. The 300 pounds of beans and 800 pounds of meat are cooked in a pit that has been dug at the rodeo grounds. The pit is filled with wood and charcoal, which are burned all afternoon. At dusk, the beef and beans are placed in the pit, supports and metal are placed over the pit and covered with dirt.

In the morning, the pit is uncovered, the temperature of the meat is checked, the feast unearthed and taken to the village park for a free giant outdoor meal where at least 1,500 servings are consumed. Of course that’s not all that takes place. The celebration offers daily rodeos, nightly dances, a horseshoe tourney, softball tourney, live entertainment, historical presentations, multiple class reunions, vendors, children’s activities, parade and more in this northeast New Mexico town.

Wagon Mound is named for a lone butte along the Santa Fe Trail that some travelers thought looked like a wagon pulled by a team of horses. The town once had up to 1,500 residents, and just about 300 call it home these days. Road Trips Foodies can find the town 40 miles north of Las Vegas and 25 miles south of Springer, on I-25 at the intersection of New Mexico State Highway 120.

(Photo from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, [fsa 8a27171])

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