Live nativity helps bring people together

The scene inside the stable at The Bean Farm when the shepherds arrive in Bethlehem after hearing of the birth of Christ. The live nativity was open to the public Dec. 3 and 4 in rural Scotch Grove. This was a record crowd for the Beans, with several hundred on Saturday night to take in the event. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

The three wise men, played by Ben Oswald, Alex Fagan and Aaron Loes, stand over the manger inside the stable after the birth of Christ. They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Angie Beitz was one of several volunteers who were on hand at The Bean Farm in Scotch Grove for their live nativity event last weekend. Beitz took part in the streets of Bethlehem as a merchant selling unleavened bread to visitors.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The streets of Bethlehem are crowded with merchants and patrons, each selling and buying wares. You have someone taking a census count, and two tax collectors. (They will throw you in jail for not paying your taxes.) Then, as you make your way through the arena, you have various merchants selling herbs and spices, unleavened breads, oils, textiles, clay vessels, incense and myrrh, and carpentry tools.

     After visiting the booths, someone rushes in to announce something of a “must see” over in the stable.

     The crowds make their way to the exit and enter into a large tent in front of the stable.

     The music begins, performed by Monticello Joyful Noise Women’s Choir.

     Among the crowd you see a man and woman, who is with child, making their way toward the Inn to seek shelter in the cold. The innkeeper denies their request and the man and women are forced to find shelter inside a barn lined with hay.

     This is the scene as hundreds of guests and visitors to The Bean Farm in rural Scotch Grove are introduced to the live nativity.

     This was the third year for the event, which is organized and run solely by volunteers. Those who take on roles in the streets of Bethlehem and roles within the story of the birth of Jesus Christ all give of their time and talent during this magical weekend.

     However, Julia and Doug Bean said it takes months of preparation to pull off a successful live nativity event every year. And, they don’t have plans to slow it down ay time soon.

     The planning starts in September.

     “You don’t want to start too early,” suggested Julia, “because people can’t think about Christmas too soon.”

     She said the last two weeks leading up to the live nativity weekend “are full of high intensity.” The Beans are rushing to make sure all of the roles and parts are filled. This year, they were able to fill the role of Jesus with live actors: 4-month-old twins Everly and Poly Jaeger. There are also animals from the Bean farm taking part in the performance as well.

     The Beans are also heavily marketing their live nativity in the final days, and “just getting our ducks in a row,” said Julia.

     Last year was the first for introducing the streets of Bethlehem concept. The Beans said the idea was to encourage people to come early, extend their visit and add information and background to the Christmas story.

     “It’s more of an interactive experience,” said Doug. He explained that in their first year with just hosting the live nativity, people were unsure about the story.

     “Now, they see how it all comes together and have an understanding of life in that period,” added Doug. “They bring that information of suffering into the nativity scene.”

     Once people are witnesses the story of Christmas, a narrator and vocalist are sharing in the telling of the story. People chime in during the singing of hymns, adding to the intimate atmosphere.

     “We get as much enjoyment out of it as they do,” Doug said of taking in the performance they’ve worked so hard to pull off.

     Julia describes the performance as Biblical, but non-denominational.

     “It’s the story according to Luke,” she said.

     Doug offered that the story of Christ’s birth “is still a story, event for those people who don’t believe.

     “It’s something most people can recognize,” he said.

     The Beans’ new endeavor, Chisel Point Event and Retreat Barn, is home to the streets of Bethlehem. As a non-profit organization, they host events throughout the year (weddings, holiday parties, Christmas experience weekends, etc.). Julia said sharing in God’s love is their mission.

     “Christ is everywhere,” she said. “We want to share that.”

     The Beans truly believe is spreading the Word of God. When Julia’s mom passed away a few years ago around the holidays, she said starting an event like the live nativity helps in believing in a higher power of love.

     Those who volunteer for the event come from all walks of life, all different ages, and all different denominations.

     “Seeing the community come out here is amazing,” said Doug.

     This year, they definitely saw more than just locals. Attendees came from Des Moines, Illinois, Mason City, the Quad Cities and beyond.

     The Beans host the live nativity free of charge; donations are accepted. Events like this and others help to keep Chisel Point operating.

     “There is just a richness of stepping back in time, 2,000 years ago,” shared Julia, “and living for something richer.”

     For more on The Bean Farm, visit


Subscriber Login