By Christine Bryant
Despite its name, the famous Hilltop Bean Dinner is more than a day of eating beans.
Although many come for just that, the event is also a family-friendly festival that includes vendors, children’s activities and live entertainment.
“The Hilltop Business Association has done really great things bringing together all sections of our neighborhood for one event,” said Brian Bainbridge, vice president of the association that serves the Hilltop business community and its residents. “That’s what we’re celebrating – our togetherness and growth.”
This year’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 24 at Westgate Park, 455 S. Westgate Ave., Columbus.
Volunteers will serve the main attraction, the beans, at the park’s shelter house, along with hot dogs and corn bread. The event also will include other food options, such as food trucks, pizza and ice cream.
A classic car show, which has attracted nearly 300 cars in years past, will take place that day as well, along with visits from the Columbus Police mobile unit. Elected officials and non-profit organizations will be on-hand, as will microchipping services for pets and arts and crafts activities.
Kids will enjoy their own special section that will include inflatables, as well as have the opportunity to play a game where they can guess the number of beans in a jar, Bainbridge said.
The free popular Westside event has served as a celebration of the neighborhood’s history for about 90 years. During the Civil War, the area now known as Westgate Park was a Civil War camp called Camp Chase.
At the time, the soldiers’ mainstay of dinner was beans – cooking them outside similar to how volunteers do at the annual bean dinner. While Camp Chase served as a training camp for Ohio soldiers, it later became a prisoner-of-war camp. As many as 150,000 Union soldiers and 25,000 Confederate prisoners passed through its gates during the Civil War.
The Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery now sits just southeast of Westgate Park.
The bean dinner serves as the largest fundraiser for the Hilltop Business Association, which is an advocate for businesses in the community. Organizers say as many as 8,000 to 12,000 people attend the bean dinner each year.
For more information, go to hilltopbusinessassociation.org.