Welcome to:
The Beam Reunion

(Descendants of Jacob Beam)

Beam Reunion Tradition

At one of our past Beam reunions, my Aunt Jo Beam requested that I tape interviews with some of the older members at the reunion. One of those I spoke with was Aunt Berta, who has always been treasured by the family for her kindness and willingness to share family stories long since past. Here is part of one conversation:
Aunt Berta, what was your favorite Beam reunion memory?
“Well, I believe the first one”
When was that?
“Well you got me on the date but it was out at Bernheim Forrest and Mom & Pop Beam, Wilmer and his father, and he had some help from some of his brothers. They all got together and called people on the telephone, cause a lot of them at that time you didn’t have to pay as much as you do now, ha. But they had a whole gag of people there. They were all Beam’s or Beam’s related. And ah, why they didn’t have them anymore was because ah, there was an awful lot of them smoked, and they drank beer and they didn’t want anybody to do that in the park. They didn’t think that was nice. So we didn’t want to go against the rules so we just quit going’ there. But I think we been all over Jefferson Co. and up in Shelbyville.”

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Everything I know about the Beam Reunion was taught to me by my dad, Wallace Victor (Vic) Beam.

In his memory, here is what it meant to him as seen through my past experiences.

 

The Beam reunion has always been an important event in our lives. Having been born in 1961, I remember attending at Lincoln's Boyhood Home, Shelbyville, Bernheim Forrest, Bullitt Co. Fairgrounds, George Rogers Clark Park & New Haven, Ky. In 2009, Jim Beam Noe contacted me and requested that we make the Beam Distillery in Clermont, Ky. the home of the Beam reunion. The folks at Beam have been very generous hosts and the family is grateful for their interest in this annual event. Their help has allowed us to put both the Jim Beam and Joseph L. Beam families together for the first time in many years. It's amazing to see the younger generation grow their interest in the family’s long and cherished traditions.

The reunion is built around traditional family activities that have been passed down from generation to generation. A typical reunion usually proceeds as follows:


The sign-in where you get your "Hello" name tag.

That's right. A family reunion that requires name tags! There can be over 200+ family members there from all over the country. Old registration books still accompany the reunion organization and signatures from as far back as the mid ‘50s can be found. It’s interesting to see your parents signed into a reunion and your name isn’t mentioned…because you were not yet a part of their lives. Yes, your parents had lives before you.

After sign in, you proceed down the tables where you enter the annual contests that include:

What time the alarm clock will ring?

How much does the water melon weigh?

How much money is in the jar?

How many pieces of candy are in the jar?

 

Then, there are the prize entries for:

Country ham

Beam spirits of various types

Cakes

Donated items.


Once you're all signed in, there's time to spend with family followed by the traditional Beam reunion meal which always includes such entrees as

Fried chicken

Potato salad

Deviled eggs

Green beans and potatoes (mentioned in memory of my Aunt Betty Beam Cecil).

Banana croquets (bananas sliced in half, rolled in salad dressing and then rolled in peanut crumbs).


After the meal it's time for the kids to sign up for traditional events such as:

Sack race

Relay race

The limbo contests

Bubble blowing contest

Hula-hoop contest

 

Once the children are off to their games, it's time for the annual Beam reunion horseshoe contest. Being the Beam reunion horseshoe champion is a coveted title that goes back to the first reunion. Many a family reputation is on the line as today's generation competes for this ultimate prize.


Towards the end of the event there's the "family meeting" where all things Beam reunion are discussed along with preparations for the next reunion. Once everyone is gathered around, there are the traditional Beam reunion awards which include gifts for:

Who traveled the farthest to attend the reunion?

Youngest Beam present

Oldest Beam present

Family with the most members present

Most recently married


The final event of the day is the time honored tradition of the "Egg Toss". Yep, we toss eggs!
Each family member chooses a partner. Two lines are then formed across from one another with your partner in front of you at about 5 paces. A raw egg is given to each team. The toss begins on one end and proceeds down the line to the last team. Once the egg toss reaches the end of the line, both lines take 1 step back. Each team attempts to toss the egg to their partner without breaking it. Many years, we have teams who somehow end up with what seem to be hard boiled eggs as they make their toss as far as 30 to 40 feet towards the end of the competition!

The team that completes the last toss without breaking the egg is declared the winner.


It's hard to put over 50 years of Beam reunions into one page but I think you get the picture.
More than anything, the Beam Reunion is a celebration of family and a celebration of life. Those before us are given remembrances while the younger generations take the time to be with one another and form the bonds necessary for the family to carry on its traditions. It honors our family's bourbon making heritage and seeks to instill our family’s history and values into future generations. I think, silently, many hope that the art of making bourbon will be reborn in future Beam’s in order that the legacy is carried on.

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This was recently discovered among the papers handed down from reunion-to-reunion (Sign-in books & reunion notes that date back to the 1950's).

Letter to the Lexington Herald dated Wed. June 10th, 1981.
Beam Reunion
The 30th annual Beam Family Reunion will be held Sunday, June 14th at George Rogers Clark Park, in Louisville. Each year, this reunion attracts several hundred Beams from the central Kentucky area. In was started in 1951 by the descendants of Joe L. Beam and Minor Case Beam of New Haven, Ky. For more information, contact me at 606-272-5417, or Mary Beam Steckbeck at 606-277-6835.
Jim McLaughlin;
Lexington, Ky.