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Bean hole bean dinner in Patten is big draw of summer for some

PATTEN, Maine — If he is honest, Greg Croning of Bangor said on Saturday, the annual bean-hole bean dinner at the Patten Lumbermen’s Museum is the event that he looks forward to “all summer long.”

“I know that is sort of terrible,” he confessed on Saturday afternoon, sitting at a picnic table outside the 1820s camp at the museum while eating his second plate of beans. “But I’m sort of a foodie, and not everyone can do bean-hole beans … There is a lot of work involved, and they do one heck of a job.”

The sentiment was echoed by most everyone who attended Saturday’s dinner, which has now been taking place at the museum for more than 50 years. 

The event is always held the second Saturday in August at the museum, which was established to showcase the history of lumberjacks who once existed in the northern Maine forests. The beans were cooked, overnight, in the bean holes. Everyone was invited to come and watch the holes being dug on Friday and pots being lowered down.

The meal included red hot dogs, coleslaw, gingerbread, biscuits and coffee boiled over the open fire. It took two men to pull the iron pots of beans out of the ground. 

On Saturday, volunteers scurried to toss more wood onto the fires as the lines to get more beans, biscuits or coffee waxed and waned. Men wearing long, thick oven mitts on one hand pulled tall pots of coffee off the open fire. 

Across the grounds, visitors checked out the nine buildings on the museum site, which house tools and equipment used by woodsmen.

Christine Hope of Presque Isle brought her two grandchildren, Connor and Colby, who enjoyed the wagon rides and the woodturning demonstrations. 

“I think it is very important to have something like this for them to learn something about Maine’s past,” she said. “They don’t teach nearly enough about local history in schools anymore, in my opinion, so I like to take them to museums in the area whenever I can.”

Colby Hope, 9, said that he enjoyed both the meal and the museum visit.

“They have a lot of cool stuff here,” he said on Saturday.

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