Bob Leith: Rio Grande to serve Civil War beans for 149th time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Village of Rio Grande and its Memorial Association will proudly host their 149th bean dinner at the University of Rio Grande Bob Evans Shelter House from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10.

This event was started in 1870 by the village residents to honor returning United States soldiers who had served in the Civil War from 1861-1865. This Civil War tradition welcomed those who “may have ties with the Confederacy” and “all men of color.”

Late 19th century fare consisted of strong and bitter black coffee, hardtack and soup beans cooked over a wood-fed fire (similar to soldier foods eaten in the recent war).

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Today, the Civil War beans will be supplemented by homemade cornbread, homemade pies, Bob Evans sausage sandwiches, iced water, coffee and soft drinks. Additional charges occur for food and drink beyond the basic water, coffee and beans.

There will be good food, musical entertainment, Civil War displays and lectures, events and unparalleled fellowship. All veterans and all who “serve and sacrifice” are welcome and admitted free of charge. Admission prices for the general public are as follows: 10 years of age and older, $4; 9 and under are free. Attendees may take beans home with them for an additional fee of percent per bucket.

Although the last Civil War veteran passed away in 1959 at age 117, the tradition to honor all veterans lives on in Rio Grande. Further information can be received by calling Coach David Smalley at 740-709-4971. The Rio Grande Memorial Association hopes to see you at this most significant and historic event at which Ohio’s best beans will be served.

This year, we have expanded our program and displays to develop a truer Civil War environment. All proceeds benefit the Village of Rio Grande, civic organizations and university student groups.

Perhaps “General” Jack Leonard of Ironton will attend this year’s bean dinner. For further information, call Robert Leith at 1-740-302-4037. Hope to see you Aug. 10.

Bob Leith is a retired history professor for Ohio University Southern and the University of Rio Grande