Friday, October 19, 2001

Bean Bash takes over Turfway

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — One of Northern Kentucky's most popular charitable, social and political events happens for the 28th time Saturday at Turfway Park in Florence — the annual Bean Bash.

        A crowd of 1,500 to 2,000 is expected for the bean soup, corn bread, tomatoes and slaw that have been staples of the event since it started in 1971.

        “There has been a couple of years in there when we didn't hold it,” said former Kentucky state Rep. Bill McBee, a Burlington Democrat who started the gathering as a political fund-raiser.

        “But it's become a real community event people look forward to,” Mr. McBee said. “I used it as a fund-raiser that first year but after that we just decided to keep holding it and give all the money to charity.”

        Over the years the Bean Bash has raised more than $1 million for Northern Kentucky charities, he said. This year's money will benefit Redwood School, Boone Adult Work and Activities Center and Northern Kentucky Area 7 Special Olympics.

        “We cleared $85,000 last year and we hope to do at least that if not better this year,” Mr. McBee said.

        Along with the bean soup — made with 300 pounds of beans and 150 pounds of hamhocks — hot dogs, beer and soft drinks will be served.

        There are also activities for kids and a silent auction featuring sports memorabilia and other items, including three autographed baseballs donated by Kentucky U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, a member of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame.

        Expected to attend are Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, his wife, former Miss America Heather French Henry, and the couple's baby daughter, Harper; former Cincinnati Bengals lineman Joe Walter; and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning.

        Lots of local politicians also typically attend the bash, which runs from 2-8 p.m.

        “The nice part about having it at Turfway is that people can bet simulcast horse races while they're at the bash,” Mr. McBee said.

        The cost of admission, which includes bean soup and corn bread, is $3.

        “That's how much it was the first year, and we've just kept it at that ever since,” Mr. McBee said.



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