ERIE — The weeklong Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion in Erie, in its 147th year, culminates on Saturday. Activities in the week include the wife-carrying contest held Monday at the rodeo grounds, rodeo events tonight and Wednesday, kids games on Thursday, the bean feed and concert on Friday and a parade on Saturday morning. The George L. Hendricks Post No. 102, American Legion, Erie has spent the last six weeks organizing the reunion.
The annual free bean feed is a big part of the longest continuous military reunion in the United States. The reunion was begun by the Grand Army of the Republic within a few years after the Civil War.
Christopher Ellis, commander of the American Legion in Erie, said there will be 48 pots cooking beans on Friday instead of the normal 52 pots.
“We’ve had a … decline in the last couple of years,” Ellis said. Organizers normally purchase 1,500 pounds of dried beans to cook and would toss 300 to 400 pounds of them. To cut back on waste, organizers purchased 1,000 pounds of beans for this year, he said, “which may not have been a good idea. Time will tell.”
He said the reduction wasn’t related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Serving usually ends by 6:30 pm Friday. Ellis said those who don’t wish to stand in line may collect their beans after serving is complete.
Ellis said organizers have made a few changes in the events because of the pandemic, including adding hand sanitizer in various locations and extra wash stations at the rode grounds. Vendors on Friday night were eliminated because of these concerns.
Masks will be available to a limited number of attendees. If wishing to wear a mask, please do. Social distancing is encouraged.
“We are asking that people do their best and social distance with each other,” Ellis said. “We’re just asking people to use their best judgment and respect each other’s space. Respect your neighbor. If they ask you to step back, please step back.”
Tuesday and Wednesday
6 to 9 pm each night - 40th annual American Legion IPRA rodeo, featuring bareback bronc riding, saddle broncs, calf roping, bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, team roping and breakaway roping
5:30 pm - pulled pork sandwich/hot dog meal
6 pm - American Legion free children’s events at city park (turtle races, bike races, sack races)
7 pm - children’s events at Dinosaur Park
6 to 10 am - cornbread and dessert served by Xi Delta Psi Sorority in front of Pete’s.
6 pm - free bean feed on the courthouse lawn.
6 to 11 pm - beer garden in downtown
8 to 11 pm - Horville Road Band (country and classic rock) in downtown
11 pm to 1 am - D.J. and karaoke with Ryan Janzen at the Legion (members and members’ guests only)
Saturday, July 18
9:30 am - reading of names at the Memorial Wall
10 am - reunion golf classic at Prairie Ridge Golf Course
10 am - parade in downtown Erie
8 pm - youth rodeoww