Based on a Civil War organization that hosted “bean soup festivals,” the McClure Bean Soup Festival and Fair had early origins, with the first event of its kind being held in 1883 amongst veterans. Officially opened to the public in 1891, the soup meal and activities now draw over 60,000 people each year.
Bowls of soup are served at noon each day over the week’s celebrations. There are dozens of unique and all age friendly contests taking place every day. The contest fun includes cake baking to specific rules and expectations, photo competitions showcasing adorable babies and cute pets, and a quilt block contest with the blocks eventually becoming part of a McClure Bean Soup Festival quilt.
Pageant day is an event to promote agricultural fairs, with the winners representing the festival with “pride and dignity” as the Fair Queen, Little Miss Bean, and more. The parade highlights marching groups, service organizations, tractors, and antique cars. It is a real hometown event, whereby all are invited to walk and take part.
The entertainment stages rock with music to suit all tastes. Listen to tribute bands, local talent, and musicians that have traveled over North America. Lively shows for the kids are a feature on stage as well. The horse show is a big draw for all ages and exhibitors work with horses of various sizes, from miniature to draft. There is a rabbit show, too. Choose your favorite from the roster of bunnies, including the Mini-Rex and the Jersey Wooley.
Events are free at the McClure Bean Soup Festival. There are several amusing contests to enter with no entry fee, but with prize money to be won. Check www.mcclurebeansoupfair.com for entry forms and information on how to join the fun. The musical entertainment is all without charge, as is the viewing of exhibitions. The amusement rides will have a nominal fee per ride. If you plan to enter a horse in the competition, there is a fee per class of around $5.
US Route 522 is the way into McClure. Guests are not likely to have a problem finding the festival grounds. This is a small town where the locals love to promote their food festival. Ask anyone in town, and they will direct you to the McClure Bean Soup Festival and Fair. Held in a beautiful green space, the entrance will be marked by a sign.
Local businesses near to the many events will provide ample parking for a small fee. The email addresses of the festival organizers are on the website, allowing you to make parking inquiries in the event you have a large rig and no tow vehicle for local excursions.
Being a very small rural town, there is no public transportation system. The McClure Bean Soup Festival takes place at one location, except for the horse show, so once parked nearby and at the grounds, you can take part in the fun without the need to transport from place to place.
The McClure Bean Soup Festival is held on fairgrounds in a large green space and within proximity to a park, but there are no accommodations for camping. Nearby areas offer options that will suit the RVer who loves to experience the outdoors and wide open spaces.
Nearby campgrounds offer a chance to enjoy the great outdoors. Claim a spot with full hookups or go rustic and park your RV in the primitive section of your favorite campground. No matter which campground you choose, you will be close to Bald Eagle State Forest, which is one of the highlights of this picturesque region.
This family-friendly festival is all about community. There are contests of every kind taking place each day, and it is easy to navigate a wheelchair, stroller, or child’s wagon amongst the booths. The exhibition hall may get crowded, so you may want to park the wagon and have the kids view the interesting exhibits on foot.
Jeans and a t-shirt will make the ideal festival gear. A sweater is a must as well, as the evenings can cool down a bit this time of year. Hats for all family members will protect noses from the sun’s strong rays. Pack the RV with clothing that is comfortable to wear on trail walks through the State Forest. Closed-toe shoes are recommended, too.
The McClure Bean Soup Festival is a simple affair, so keep the backpack simple as well. A refillable water bottle, camera, sweater, and supply of sunscreen will make for a light load. You are asked to bring your lawn chair for the musical entertainment. You can bring along snacks for the kids to keep them energized in between meals.
Although the temperatures will likely not be soaring, the sun’s rays can still have a harsh effect if you are not wearing skin protection. Regular application of sunscreen and taking the time to hydrate are the rules of the day. The kids may not want to stop for even a minute, but have them take a break in the shade a few times throughout the day during sunscreen re-application time.
The fresh Pennsylvania air is sure to build the appetites of your family, so stock the RV with plenty of nourishing food. Chili around the evening campfire is always a popular dish. Accompany every meal with fresh fruits and vegetables that will be available for purchase at the festival and roadside markets. Before leaving home, top the RV propane, fill the camp stove canister, and load up on charcoal briquets.
Visit the areas surrounding McClure as a sightseeing venture for views of the mountains. After a trek or two, choose a destination and dine. If the kids are in the mood for fast food, allow them a treat and on another occasion, try local pub food, an American Grill meal, or bistro fare. There is also the option to share a delicious extra-large pizza with the family.
The exhibits are for judging and competing, but there is an auction of the goods at the end of each competition day. Bid for your favorite shoofly pie or chocolate fudge cake. Concession stands open in the late afternoon, and the bowl of soup sales start at noon each day. After the ice cream contest, there is usually a free giveaway.
This family-oriented festival is all about community and volunteers work hard all year long to make it an event that fair-goers will want to return to year after year. Security volunteers will ensure that the environment is safe, clean, and a pleasure for all to enjoy. If there are crowds, be sure to have a plan in place in case a family member gets separated from the group.
The entertainment at McClure Bean Soup Festival goes on whether rain or shine, so pack rain gear and umbrellas in the RV just in case. Cozy sweaters are a plus for after sundown walks. For campfire evenings, bring a few blankets to snuggle in together, although temperatures may not get that cold at night.
Camping fun always includes the occasional bump and bruise. Top up the RV first aid kit before heading out on the road and include peroxide and antibiotic ointment as a precaution. If anyone in your group has specific medical needs, put medications as your first item on your packing list. Medical center and pharmacy options may be limited in McClure, so having a few items on hand is a good idea.