Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken:
Bean feeds are essentially the organizing medium of DFL politics. They are exactly what they sound like. People show up, maybe make a small donation to the local chapter of the party, they eat, and there’s a speaking program.
To be clear, not every bean feed is literally a bean feed. There are burger bashes, spaghetti dinners, corn feeds, and walleye frys. But the classic bean feed—for example, the one in Kandiyohi County—is the best. It’s basically a potluck, with tables filled with assorted bean dishes. Baked beans. Bean salads. Chili (with beans). And other bean dishes.
Why go to all these bean feeds? Not just for the food. Minnesota has a caucus system, through which the DFL and Republican parties “endorse” candidates for office. The folks at the bean feeds are the people who participate in the caucuses, get elected as delegates to the state convention, and decide who gets their party’s endorsement.
The upshot of all that is that if you want to serve Minnesota in the United States Senate, you start by going to a lot of bean feeds.