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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

4-H Bean Supper and Carnival going strong for 39 years

STILLWATER, Okla. – The Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program is steeped in history. The program itself started in 1909. State 4-H Roundup, the largest 4-H event in the state, began in 1921. It is easy to see 4-H history runs deep in the roots of Oklahoma.

bean supper line.jpgWashita County 4-H’ers have their own claim to fame when it comes to historical events. Since 1978, Washita County residents have gathered on the Monday before Halloween to support the 4-H program at the annual 4-H Bean Supper and Carnival. This year marked the 39th year for this event, and it has remained as successful as it was in its inaugural year nearly four decades ago.

This now-traditional event was the brainchild of Barbara Hatfield, former 4-H educator in Washita County, and volunteer leader Carol Price.

bean supper eating.jpg“We got this idea while we were at State Volunteer Leaders Conference,” Hatfield said. “At that time, we’d been selling candy bars as a fundraiser, and we were just trying to come up with something different. We got the idea for a bean supper and we had it all planned by the end of that conference.”

Price recalls how successful that first supper was.

“We cooked 125 pounds of beans and served over 800 people. I think we had a dozen roasting pans full of beans,” Price said. “We made enough money to quit selling candy bars.”

Hatfield recalled all those roasting pans would continually blow fuses, so it took everyone working together to get the beans prepared.

Carnival.jpgEach county club was responsible for organizing a carnival game, and the 4-H families all donated desserts.

“This event was all encompassing. Not only did we raise money, but our 4-H’ers used the skills they learned while in 4-H, such as responsibility and teamwork,” Hatfield said

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Dana Church, Washita County 4-H Youth Development educator with Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension, said this is the biggest fundraiser for the program.

pin the clover.jpg“This is truly a tradition in Washita County that brings all of our communities together,” Church said. “This year we served about 600 people. There were about 75 4-H’ers representing nine clubs from across the county, along with about 20 volunteers and Extension staff to help make this year’s event so successful.”

Participating clubs were from Canute, Burns Flat-Dill City, Sentinel, Cordell and Rocky. The carnival featured more than a dozen games, as well as a bounce house.

4-H’ers of all ages were busy helping ensure a successful event. Easton Wall and Ruth Moser, both members of Cordell 4-H Cloverbuds club, said they liked helping.

“I helped with almost everything,” Wall said of his efforts. “My favorite part was talking to my friends.”

Moser said she helped put the desserts on plates.

“I want to help with this again next year,” she said.

Burns Flat 4-H Club President Jaron Mason has been helping with this event since he was in seventh grade.

“I like serving the food and working at the carnival,” he said. “It helps us show our leadership skills and it’s great for our community.”

Jordan Mason, vice president of the Burns Flat 4-H Club, said she enjoys working with the younger kids at the carnival.

“It’s fun to get on the kids’ level at the carnival because they’re having so much fun,” she said. “This also helps us with our communication skills.”

Mary Peck spent 13 years as the 4-H educator in Washita County and said this event is really about bringing the community together.

“This is one night when we’re all having a good time. For the 4-H’ers, it’s a night when they aren’t competing against one another,” Peck said. “Alumni come back for this. And the kids really love the carnival. It doesn’t have to be high tech to be a lot of fun.”

Church said it is important to realize this is more than bringing the community together for a good meal and fun.

“It’s important to know that our club members are practicing life skills such as communication and teamwork that they learned through 4-H,” she said. “It warms my heart that we have this tradition in our community and have tremendous support for the Washita County 4-H Youth Development Program.”

Hatfield said she is glad to see this county tradition continue.

“It’s just wonderful this event is still going on and going strong after all these years,” Hatfield said. “It definitely promotes community spirit.”



Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078