Bean Festival

"So, how does this work?" I asked a woman standing next to me in front of a 'bean station'.  "Well, each of these pots of beans is cooked by a different team.  They started cooking at 7 this morning and will serve them to folks at noon as soon as the winners are announced and the guy over there rings the bell.  They cannot serve before then.  You can have as many bowls of beans as you dare, stopping at different team's table."  The beans and cornbread were free but she warned me that after about 15 minutes all these beans would be gone!  In looking at the size of the crowd, I decided I needed to find my starting point and stake out a front row spot.  I asked her how she picked her bean 'supplier'.  She laughed and told me to go around and ask each team what they put in their beans.  "You gotta be careful, cause some of them cook hot and spicy beans.  Some of them use ham hocks or other meat." I started making my round, talking to each team.

 This was taken about 10 am.  The smell of beans was everywhere on the plaza.

This was taken about 10 am.  The smell of beans was everywhere on the plaza.

 Taken the evening before the day of the festival.  Each pot is reserved by a team, each with their own 'secret' recipe.  There are no tables for bean connoisseurs to sit and enjoy the fare.  This is a stand up routine or find a bare spot along the wall of the courthouse.

Taken the evening before the day of the festival.  Each pot is reserved by a team, each with their own 'secret' recipe.  There are no tables for bean connoisseurs to sit and enjoy the fare.  This is a stand up routine or find a bare spot along the wall of the courthouse.

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 Each team had their own theme going on.  Around these parts, everyone knows everyone and almost everyone had competed many times before.  They are really here to have fun.

Each team had their own theme going on.  Around these parts, everyone knows everyone and almost everyone had competed many times before.  They are really here to have fun.

 "What do you put in your beans?"  Well, it turns out . . . everything!  "If we have it on hand it goes in!"

"What do you put in your beans?"  Well, it turns out . . . everything!  "If we have it on hand it goes in!"

 Married over thirty years.

Married over thirty years.

 She is quiet and shy.  She has a large garden and grows her own organic herbs for her beans.  No meat in this pot.

She is quiet and shy.  She has a large garden and grows her own organic herbs for her beans.  No meat in this pot.

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 Another team.

Another team.

 Get your beans, grab one of these and stand aside for the next person.

Get your beans, grab one of these and stand aside for the next person.

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 That rusted chimney had a fire built under it and it was a very welcome spot to warm one's hands.  At different times there were as many as three separate groups playing in the area.

That rusted chimney had a fire built under it and it was a very welcome spot to warm one's hands.  At different times there were as many as three separate groups playing in the area.

 Nothing better than sounds of banjos, guitars, violins and a hammered dulcimer.  This ad hoc group was playing just across the street from the bean pots.  I had decided on my top three bean stations and had some time to kill so I went towards the music.  The lady playing the hammered dulcimer never left that seat the whole day.  Her dog did not stray from her side.

Nothing better than sounds of banjos, guitars, violins and a hammered dulcimer.  This ad hoc group was playing just across the street from the bean pots.  I had decided on my top three bean stations and had some time to kill so I went towards the music.  The lady playing the hammered dulcimer never left that seat the whole day.  Her dog did not stray from her side.

 Mountain View is reputed to be the folk music capital of the world.  There is music everywhere at all times of the day.  To keep that part of their culture alive, there is a very successful tutoring program for grade-schoolers.  If a child wants to learn to play an instrument they are provided the instrument and weekly instruction for free!!  No surprise that almost everyone in town plays at least one instrument.

Mountain View is reputed to be the folk music capital of the world.  There is music everywhere at all times of the day.  To keep that part of their culture alive, there is a very successful tutoring program for grade-schoolers.  If a child wants to learn to play an instrument they are provided the instrument and weekly instruction for free!!  No surprise that almost everyone in town plays at least one instrument.

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 I have observed some rules about porch jamming.  You don't need to know anyone on the porch.  Show up with your instrument, determine if you can play the songs at the level of performance of the group and then wait for an empty chair.  If anyone leaves and you are at the front of the line you can take a seat and just join in.  The gentleman standing on the left is at the front of the line and he is already playing.  The complement of instruments does not seem to matter.  There is no such thing as too many guitars or not enough violins.

I have observed some rules about porch jamming.  You don't need to know anyone on the porch.  Show up with your instrument, determine if you can play the songs at the level of performance of the group and then wait for an empty chair.  If anyone leaves and you are at the front of the line you can take a seat and just join in.  The gentleman standing on the left is at the front of the line and he is already playing.  The complement of instruments does not seem to matter.  There is no such thing as too many guitars or not enough violins.

 No worries!

No worries!

 When this group broke up they all took time to introduce themselves to the other players.  Don't they just reek of having lots of fun?

When this group broke up they all took time to introduce themselves to the other players.  Don't they just reek of having lots of fun?

 It was interesting to watch how they managed to keep their music together.  Most groups seemed to take turns choosing the next song.  They were vey keen on watching each other to make sure they were playing in the right key and keeping the correct tempo.  When one player would choose to solo, the others would automatically back off a bit.  

It was interesting to watch how they managed to keep their music together.  Most groups seemed to take turns choosing the next song.  They were vey keen on watching each other to make sure they were playing in the right key and keeping the correct tempo.  When one player would choose to solo, the others would automatically back off a bit.  

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 And if there is no porch or chairs set up, just gather round and play anyway!

And if there is no porch or chairs set up, just gather round and play anyway!

 He had a great foot tapping routine.

He had a great foot tapping routine.

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 Bring you own chair.  Have a seat.  It is all free fun.

Bring you own chair.  Have a seat.  It is all free fun.

 The three girls on the right were beginner clogging dance students.  The two little girls just stole the show!

The three girls on the right were beginner clogging dance students.  The two little girls just stole the show!

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 Parade time!  The police closed Main Street for 15 minutes then led the parade.

Parade time!  The police closed Main Street for 15 minutes then led the parade.

 Our first outhouse racer!  Right away I could tell that this was really just all about fun.  We think of racing and showing off your outhouse as a competition.  Nope.  Not here!

Our first outhouse racer!  Right away I could tell that this was really just all about fun.  We think of racing and showing off your outhouse as a competition.  Nope.  Not here!

 Toilet seat on a guitar?  Well, turns out that here you can buy one and four string bedpan instruments (or same made out of old cigar boxes and Whitman candy tins).  They are not cheap.

Toilet seat on a guitar?  Well, turns out that here you can buy one and four string bedpan instruments (or same made out of old cigar boxes and Whitman candy tins).  They are not cheap.

 This racer had Mardi Gras beads and was a favorite with the kids.

This racer had Mardi Gras beads and was a favorite with the kids.

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 The race track is a city block long.

The race track is a city block long.

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 Photo finish!

Photo finish!

 In case you were wondering . . . there is no system to these races.  There is no double elimination.  If you feel like racing just go to the start line.  If there is no other outhouse ready,  just run down the race track by yourself.  If you want to wait for someone to show up and race with you, just take whichever outhouse shows up.  I have no idea how long they raced into the afternoon.  The cold finally got to me and we walked home.

In case you were wondering . . . there is no system to these races.  There is no double elimination.  If you feel like racing just go to the start line.  If there is no other outhouse ready,  just run down the race track by yourself.  If you want to wait for someone to show up and race with you, just take whichever outhouse shows up.  I have no idea how long they raced into the afternoon.  The cold finally got to me and we walked home.

 Party is over.  Now the clean up.

Party is over.  Now the clean up.