Last Sunday we went to the 142nd annual GAR Bean Bake in Newcastle. Newcastle is a tiny little town about 6 miles from the inn. The annual GAR dinner (named for the Grand Army of the Republic) was originally started to raise funds for local widows and orphans from the Civil War. 142 years later, with all of the widows and orphans long deceased, the tradition continues, with the funds going to maintain the delightful little local park.
What a slice of local color. It’s Newcastle’s social event of the season. Everywhere you looked people were greeting old friends, and hugs and handshakes were the order of the day. Many of the locals are the third and fourth generation of their families to live in the area. All the food is donated and volunteers cook the beans in the original iron kettles from the Civil War, over woodburning fires. All I can say is I felt very sorry for them slaving over hot coals when the temperature that day went well over 90 degrees. We were more than content to sit in the shade and eat home-made ice cream and fry pies, while enjoying the musical entertainment provided by two local groups.
First on the program was Chestnut Ridge, playing bluegrass and gospel. They’re very popular performers at local events. They were followed by the Walhonding Rube Band, although there’s nothing “rube-like” about their musical abilities. Although they have a lot of fun during the performances, they take their music seriously, and it shows. The band has been around since the 1930’s and again some of the members are the third generation of their family to play in the band.
And what’s a local festival without the crowning of a queen, or in this case, a king, since the band started running out of ladies to crown!
Almost every summer or fall weekend you’ll find little local festivals and events like this one in rural Ohio. There’s always home-made food, local entertainment, and a feeling of coming home. Come see for yourself.
White Oak Inn