By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FLORENCE - Thirty years ago, former Boone County Democratic state representative Bill McBee held a bean soup and cornbread supper to raise money for his political campaign.
The take was $2,500.
"We took half for the campaign and gave half to charity," McBee said Monday at Freedom, a Florence tavern where he regularly lunches with a group of regulars.
In the years that followed, McBee, rarely opposed during his years in Frankfort, no longer needed the event to raise campaign cash. But it was so much fun, he continued to hold the bean supper annually.
And the entire take is for charity.
This Saturday the tradition continues. The Bean Bash will be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the second floor grandstand area of Turfway Park in Florence.
Admission is just $3, with kids under 12 admitted free. Volunteer chefs Shawn Carroll and Fred Short will prepare an all-you-can-eat menu of bean soup, cornbread, tomatoes and slaw. Hot dogs and ice cream are also on the menu.
Over the years, the Bean Bash - chaired by Bobby Taylor - has raised more than $1 million for the Special Olympics and other Northern Kentucky charities that provide services and training to adults and children with mental disabilities.
McBee's son, Steve, has a disability and has benefited from a number of agencies and organizations over the years.
"Those people and places have always been good to Steve," McBee said. "So we figured we'd do something for them."
Last year's event raised $92,000 for charity. McBee is shooting for $95,000 this year.
Though McBee no longer uses the Bash to raise campaign money, politics is still a big part of the gathering.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher is scheduled to attend, as are the wife and mother - Jennifer and Toss Chandler - of Democratic candidate Ben Chandler. Attorney General candidate Greg Stumbo and local elected officials and candidates will be there.
There will also be live music, a wine tasting and a Monte Carlo room.
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