For the Love of the Lima Bean

There is a festival throughout the country for just about anything you can image. Blueberry, strawberry, peaches, raspberry but one that is probably a little different and definitely (in my book) most unusual is the West Cape May Lima Bean Festival. Held every year the first weekend of October, the Lima Bean Festival is all about the bean. West Cape May calls itself the “Lima Bean Capital of the World.” I guess at this point we can ask the question, “who says you can’t love a Lima Bean?”

While they may not be on your shopping list their texture is wonderfully rich and plush. Yet images of my brother and I going to bed early without any dessert because we didn’t eat the tiny green bean still dance in my head.

The festival, which was created to plant hope for the local farming culture that was dying in the area due to the changing of the country’s diets. During the Great Depression the lima bean was an easy and inexpensive way to bring nutrients to the dinner table. During the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s the lima bean continued to be as important to the dinner table as potatoes. It was a main staple in American households. In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, our taste began to change and people were introduced to trendier vegetables like fava beans, white asparagus and mescalin salads. Sadly the little green bean was pushed aside. Farmers in West Cape May had to rethink their crops. What was once a booming agricultural industry now turned into something that no one wanted. How do things fall from grace? The plan was for the festival to honor the bean that kept many farms alive for so long in the area and bring it to the forefront again.

The West Cape May Lima Bean Festival will be held on Saturday, October 6 with a raindate of Sunday, October 7 – 9am to 5pm. It is held in Wilbraham Park, which is located at Sunset and Broadway in West Cape May. Vendors, food, music and the crowning of the King and Queen of the Lima Bean will take place.

So began the West Cape May Lima Bean Festival — that October occasion when the town crowns a lima bean queen, dances to a lima bean polka, holds lima contests (eating, tossing, cooking) and serves up a very fine bean cuisine.


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