JAMESTOWN – The Lions Club is celebrating 70 years of service in Jamestown, and for nearly 65 of those years the Bean Festival has drawn the community together, festival secretary Lynn Ritenour said.
“The money the community puts into this, they get it back,” she said. “It draws a unity.”
The Lions Club of Jamestown will host its annual Bean Festival Friday and Saturday, Sept. 18 and 19. The festival is the Club’s only money-making project of the year, and the funds go to serve Jamestown residents in need, particularly those in need of eye glasses or exams.
“Those who truly can’t afford eyeglasses and exams, we try to help them out,” Ritenour said. “The Lions Club was built from Helen Keller’s speech that we should make sight a priority.”
Ritenour said the club also works with eye banks and donates thousands of pairs of refurbished eyeglasses to communities overseas to preserve sight.
“Usually as many as 10,000 (pairs) will go overseas,” she said. “People who have never saw as an adult – never have seen before – are now seeing.”
What began in the late 1950s as an October fall festival for the village, Ritenour said, now includes an auction, a raffle and more beans.
“I remember when I was a child I went downtown and they were cooking the beans in the street in a big kettle,” she said. “Now we have a variety of beans, not just one.”
This year’s festival menu includes five different kinds of beans, baked beans, five-bean casserole, pork sandwiches and hot dogs. But there’s more than food at the weekend celebration.
The festival kicks off Friday with opening ceremonies 5 p.m. and the crowning of the bean queen 5:15 p.m. Friday’s activities also include an auction 6 p.m. and bingo 7 p.m. as well as the Bean Tent open 4-10 p.m.
The Cancer Care Walk 9 a.m. kicks off Saturday’s festivities, followed by a car show 10 a.m., wheelchair race 1 p.m., parade 6 p.m., bingo 7 p.m., and ham and blanket wheel spin 7 p.m. The Bean Tent is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Saturday’s afternoon entertainment includes Larry Detty as D.J. (10 a.m. to 1 p.m), Sensation 3:15 p.m. and Gas Band & Guard 4:15 p.m. Wyatt McCubbin takes center stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, and the Lions Club raffle closes out the festival at 10 p.m.
The Silvercreek Fire Department hosts its pancake breakfast at the station 7-11 a.m. Saturday. Rides and vendors – crafts, churches and charities – will be available both Friday and Saturday in downtown Jamestown.
“It’s a good time for all,” Ritenour said. “We’re lions. We’re coming out to roar.”
Anna Dembowski is a freelance writer for the Gazette.