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Bringing Bean Hole Days back to its roots - Area residents honored

Beth Nelson and her daughters stir the beans before serving them to the public. Nelson’s youngest daughter, Maggie, was chosen as Princess Jellybean. Dan Determan / Echo Journal1 / 7
Barb Merritt, of Merritt Jewelers, accepted the Business of the Year award from Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Matt Kilian Tuesday, July 10, at the Bean Hole Days community picnic. Theresa Bourke / Echo Journal2 / 7
Janice Stephens, of Central Bean, and Rob Larson, of Lakes Gas, were crowned Queen and King Bean. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal3 / 7
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal Bean Hole Days wouldn't be the same without the raising of the Beans, seen here.4 / 7
Theresa Bourke / Echo Journal Donna Olson, one of Pequot Lakes Community Action’s Volunteers of the Year, poses with Miss Pequot Lakes Hailee Swenson Tuesday, July 10, at the Bean Hole Days community picnic.5 / 7
Dan Determan / Echo Journal Maggie Nelson, of Pequot Lakes, and Chance Schulze, of Colorado, were named Princess and Prince Jellybean at the July 11 Bean Hole Days festivities.6 / 7
Renee Anderson gives a speech after being recognized at the PineandLakes Echo Journal’s 2017 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point-Crosslake Citizen of the Year Tuesday, July 10, at the Bean Hole Days community picnic. Theresa Bourke / Echo Journal7 / 7

After eight decades of residents gathering to eat beans baked underground overnight, Pequot Lakes' quirky Bean Hole Days celebration harkened back to its origins with a community picnic Tuesday, July 10, honoring several essential community members.

The Volunteers of the Year, Citizen of the Year and Business of the Year all got special recognition at the picnic for their contributions to Pequot Lakes.

"This feels to me a bit more like what was really at stake 80 years ago in 1938, back when our local businesses hosted a bean feed to say 'thank you' to our farmers and those that lived outside the town for supporting local businesses," said Chris Lindholm, Pequot Lakes School District Superintendent and emcee for the event.

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KLICK! Photo Gallery - Bean Hole Days 2018

199 photos - Klick here to view!

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Lindholm noted that the main event, Wednesday, July 11, brings people from all over the country to taste the beloved baked beans. The night before, however, was about honoring the locals.

"While the festivities of tomorrow (July 11) feel like they're a bit more about the tourists and those that don't live here, tonight is really about you, the people who do live here, work here, spend your winters here," he said. "Thank you for making this a great community for me and my family to raise our kids, to work, to live and to play. And thank you for being here to honor this very special occassion."

Honored guests

Kimberly Ziesemer recognized several residents Pequot Lakes Community Action chose as Volunteers of the Year. Those present who garnered applause and photo ops were Clarice Blaeser, of the Pelican Lakes Conservation Club; Donna Olson, of the Pequot Lakes Community Library; and Kathie Harman, of the Pequot Lakes Historical Society.

Ziesemer mentioned three other honorees who couldn't attend the picnic: Kristi Taylor, of Kinship Partners; Pat Dullum, of the Lakes Area Food Shelf; and Wayne Holtmeier, of Pequot Lakes Community Action.

"Our community could not exist without people to volunteer and give back," Ziesemer said. "These volunteers have been volunteering in the community for many years and volunteer because they believe in giving back to the community. ... And when you see them out and about, please thank them for all they do."

Pete Mohs, publisher of the PineandLakes Echo Journal, presented Renee Anderson with a plaque for being chosen as the 2017 Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point-Crosslake Citizen of the Year. Anderson was honored, Mohs said, for her dedication to Pequot Lakes area piano students and playing at various community events for 46 years.

"I just play piano, and I love it," Anderson said upon receiving the award.

The Citizen of the Year also divulged that the occasion has an extra special meaning for her and her husband, David, whom she married 46 years ago on Bean Hole Days.

Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Matt Kilian concluded the event by recognizing Merritt Jewelers as the chamber's Business of the Year. Barb Merritt accepted the award.

"Don and I love Pequot Lakes," Merritt said on behalf of her and her husband. "I appreciate everything Pequot has done for our store, and I know that many, many good things are happening in Pequot and are going to happen in the future."

Lining up for beans

July 11 festivities saw large crowds waiting anxiously - collectible Bean Hole Days mugs in hand - as the giant pots of beans were raised from their overnight resting places under the ground in Trailside Park.

Before any beans could be consumed, royalty had to be crowned. Rob Larson and Janice Stephens were dubbed King and Queen Bean, along with Chance Schulze and Maggie Nelson as Prince and Princess Jellybean.

Larson works at Lakes Gas, and Stephens works at Central Bean, the company that donates the beans each year. Nelson is from Pequot Lakes, and Schulze is from Colorado but was visiting family in the area.

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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