Last summer I had a brief Saturday assignment about an hour north of my home: create the annual town portrait for Bridgewater during their Old Home Day. It was straightforward: any town residents present will be photographed en masse in front of the town hall.
After we finished, my contact invited me to enjoy their "bean hole beans"--another (very old) annual tradition. Here, on the day prior, pits are dug; fires started; and beans are prepared in large cast iron kettles, covered, and cooked overnight. Every year, after the town portrait, the pits are uncovered and served to the town. According to the organizers, this tradition is the longest running in the state, and they take great pride in it.
I discovered the history and process only after I recognized that—at the very least—this was a unique local tradition. As the townspeople gathered to watch, I started photographing the volunteers uncover the pits, remove the kettles, and begin serving the meal. I finished working just about when the line was gone, and I was invited to have a plate.
Realizing that these traditions still exist and even thrive after over 100 years is rather remarkable. To experience and document it as it has been practiced (except for the wooden structure, which was built a few years ago) since its inception is humbling.