Trina Self, principal at CSES, said the school sent out nearly 600 invitations to the much-anticipated event that has become a staple in the Cave Spring community.
“The luncheon started over 35 years ago with Thomas Dempsey, he was the principal at the time,” Self said. “He invited a few of his friends to come eat pintos because the cafeteria staff just did a great job with the pintos, and it’s grown from just a few men coming once a year to over 400 people coming yearly to our event.”
Cafeteria Manager Donna Pressley said she and her staff had been working throughout the week making the necessary preparations for Thursday’s luncheon.
“We start on Monday and buy the hams,” Pressley said, adding that eight hams were prepared for the luncheon. “Tuesday we cook the hams, and we pick the hams on Wednesday for them to be in the pot today.”
She said she refined her process from years past so that almost everything was done on Wednesday, save for the actual cooking.
In addition to serving the 400 pinto-lovers who came to the school, both Pressley and Self said they prepared more than 100 to-go plates.
“I said I was going to make a drive-through window in this place,” Pressley joked. “This is the funnest event for me. This is my favorite one. It’s the biggest one; it’s the hardest one by far, but it’s the funnest one.”
Nancy Nicholson, an employee at Floyd County Schools, was enjoying her pinto meal with Kim Hall of Cave Spring.
“This is actually our first time here,” Nicholson said. “It’s wonderful. There’s super-friendly people, and it’s a fun place to be.”
Hall said another benefit of the luncheon was that it brings the school and community closer.
“I think it’s a great way to support the school and the community,” she said. “And it actually brings the community into the school, whereas they might not normally come in.”
With a variety of cakes, cookies, brownies and pies prepared by the school faculty and staff, as well as door prizes donated by local merchants, the Cave Spring Elementary Pinto Bean Luncheon was, once again, a success. And what started as a small, annual get-together nearly four decades ago has now grown into a heartwarming Cave Spring family reunion.
“It’s just our way now of giving back to the community,” Self said. “We have so much community support, and we’ve needed it more now than ever due to the budget crunches, and so it’s just a fun day to give back.”