Annual Bean Soup Tradition Continues in McClure

MCCLURE -- The cooler weather and cold nights signal it's time celebrate soup, at least in one part of our area.

It's time for the McClure Bean Soup Festival in Snyder County.

There aren't any rides open at the annual festival. The food vendors haven't opened for business and the buildings are closed while some ladies judge exhibits.

But people are still lining up for one thing, the thing that's brought people here for 126 years.

"It's just sort of a tradition. We come for the bean soup," said Janice Shambach.

The event started 126 years ago after the Civil War. The times have changed since then but the soup hasn't.

"It has 15 pounds of hamburg, five pounds of suet, which is fat," said volunteer Cindy Tyson.

And of course, 25 pounds of beans in each kettle.

"They're the hard beans. They're not soft so we actually cold soak or hot soak them, depending on how busy we are," said Tyson.

Each kettle must cook for about two and a half hours. It has to be stirred continuously or the soup will burn.

Lining up for the soup each day at noon has become a tradition for many people.

Pauline Wingard of Millheim has come to the bean soup festival for as long as she can remember.

"I don't know how many years but it's been a long time," said Wingard. "I'll be 96 in December."

"We don't usually plan anything for this week because we come over a couple times a week for bean soup," Shambach said.

The soup is served up all week at noon and the rides get running in the evening through Saturday in McClure.

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