News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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June 23, 2014

Town wants to make festival grounds county park

Area home to long-running Fontanet Bean Dinner, serving 2,000 pounds of beans

TERRE HAUTE — If some folks in Fontanet have their way, the village’s famous bean dinner may in the future take place in a county park.

Dane Devereaux, a member of the Fontanet Bean Dinner Association, made a pitch to the Vigo County Park Board Monday evening asking it consider making the roughly 19-acre festival grounds a future county park.

“I think it’s something we’re definitely interested in,” said Kara Kish, superintendent of the parks system. Members of the board also expressed an interest in the idea.

Adam Grossman, assistant superintendent, is off work this week and not at the park board meeting. He would be the person to help the board determine whether adding another park to the county system would be manageable, Kish said. With Grossman’s help, Kish hoped to have a recommendation for the board by its next meeting in July, she said.

The bean dinner property is used only a few days each year, Devereaux told the board. It includes a storage building for more than a dozen bean kettles, he said. Insurance and other expenses make maintaining the property expensive for the Bean Dinner Association, he said.

The two-day bean dinner serves up about 2,000 pounds of beans and bacon, Devereaux said. It is believed that the first dinner in the 1890s was a reunion of Civil War veterans.

Eddie Adams, a member of the parks board, said his family lived in the Fontanet area and so he is familiar with the historic importance of the annual festival.

Fontanet is in the northeast corner of Vigo County. The Vigo County Parks Department operates Fowler Park, Prairie Creek Park and Flesher Nature Preserve in southern Vigo County, and Hawthorn Park. It also maintains Markle Mill Park and a few neighborhood parks, including two in West Terre Haute.

“We struggle already to maintain our outreach parks,” Kish said. On the other hand, that’s what the department is there for, she said.

Fontanet, an unincorporated town in Nevins Township, is in an “under served” area of the county, Devereaux said.

• The board also approved the parks department’s 2015 budget at $1.17 million. That represents a $19,000 increase from last year, Kish said. Thanks to numerous cuts in other areas, the department is still able to include in its budget a new full-time position and a new part-time position, she said.

“We really identified cuts that were appropriate,” Kish said. The budget is expected to go before the Vigo County Council in August, she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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