THE WAGON MOUND BEAN DAY Celebration honors one of New Mexico’s perennial crops, the pinto bean, which was once abundantly grown on farms surrounding the small village on the plains of northeastern New Mexico. The three-day celebration is jam-packed with a parade, rodeo, car show, horseshoe tournament, live music, dancing, and a big ol’ barbecue with beef and—you guessed it—beans. The event sprouted as a Labor Day celebration even before New Mexico was a state. Wagon Mound native Tom “Dabo” Herrera serves as the parade emcee and is a member of the Bean Day Association, which this year puts on the 113th annual Bean Day September 1–4.

New Mexico Magazine November 1956




November 1956

“Fred H. Ragsdale, who shot the attractive cover photograph [of Indian corn] lives in Boulder, Colorado.”




THE EARLY NATIVE AMERICANS definitely were eating beans. They’re one of the Three Sisters—beans, corn, and squash. But there are no records of what they were growing in this area.

In the mid-1800s, there were two stables in Wagon Mound where the stagecoaches traveling the Santa Fe Trail would come in, one on the western side and the other on the eastern part. I’m sure those passengers ate beans.

My grandfather, born in 1904, was a carpenter who grew beans. Pinto beans were a big crop in the area in the early 1900s. When the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway came through in 1879, shipping became a lot easier. Prior to that, shipping was done by horse and cart. According to all the accounts that we get, these pinto beans were shipped all over the place and were sold in grocery stores.

The very first Bean Day was in 1910. That’s when they started using wash boilers—huge pots to cook the beans. They set them up behind the school and lit a fire to cook them. Now they dig a pit and put the beans in these huge pots and wrap the meat in foil and cook it all underground.

Beans are still a big thing in New Mexico. I like my mom’s recipe for tomato beans. I put some pinto beans to cook, add ground beef already made, and some diced tomatoes. That’s my favorite. She got the recipe from her grandmother.

Some people come to Bean Day for the rodeo, but the big thing is on Monday, with the parade and the free barbecue with beef and beans.

Read more: Lowriding through Chimayó is a sacred tradition.

Enjoy what makes us great, one festival at a time.

Great American Duck Race. Cheer for your feathered friends as they make a mad dash to the finish line during this Deming festival (August 24–27).

Pie Town Pie Festival. From a community canning event held 40 years ago to a fete that draws 1,000 people, the Pie Town event (September 9) is a sweet success.

Spirits of New Mexico’s Past. Meet the ghosts of colorful figures from New Mexico’s history as they share their stories by lantern light and campfire. El Rancho de las Golondrinas hosts this spooky event (October 21).