Local blues band Mojo Theory, a semi-finalist in this year’s International Blues Challenge in Nashville, will perform at the 2009 Historic Hilltop Bean Dinner on Saturday, June 27 at Westgate Park. Sponsored by the Hilltop Business Association, the community event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with Mojo Theory performing between noon and 5 p.m.
HBA member Darrell Drone, co-owner of Blueberry Hill at 2381 Sullivant Ave., assisted HBA in securing Grove City-based Mojo Theory for the Bean Dinner stage. “They are classy guys,” says Drone, a 1973 graduate of West High School. “They play at Buckeye Lake and other places around central Ohio, and they’re from the West Side.”
Longtime HBA member Dick Fagan will return as the Bean Dinner’s master of ceremonies. New on the stage is local DJ Allen Davies, owner of Where Eagles Fly. Davies will play classic rock and pop selections from the 1960s through 1980s, starting at 10:15 a.m. and during breaks through 5 p.m.
This year’s Bean Dinner features traditional favorites such as music, games, Hilltop history — and of course, beans. Drone recruits his staff and customers at Blueberry Hill to make and serve the beans using a “secret recipe” he learned five years ago from Janice Fagan when she retired from the volunteer position.
Drone slow cooks Great Northern Beans on site. He notes his stew-like dish includes a ham base, parsley and onions – a style familiar to the many Hilltop residents who have family roots in Southern Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. “It’s Mrs. Fagan’s secret recipe,” Drone said. “She deserves all the credit.”
Also featured at the bean dinner are arts and crafts vendors, nonprofit groups, children’s activities, a dunk tank, food and a display tent for businesses.
The Hilltop Businessmen’s Association launched the event in the 1930s as way to thank their customers. The idea for the three-day Bean Dinner at Westgate Park came from Civil War veterans. Back then, veterans gathered in small towns in southern Ohio for reunions and cooked simple food – beans and coffee – while talking about politics and other matters.
The Hilltop Bean Dinner changed over the years. World War II and later business closings during rapid suburbanization led to the Bean Dinner’s temporary demise. By 1981, the renamed Hilltop Business Association revived the event and returned it to Westgate Park as an annual one-day community affair.
In recent years, the Bean Dinner includes the election of commissioners to the Greater Hilltop Area Commission. Related events that bring crowds to the area include a car show near the park’s pond and a community yard sale in Westgate.