A decades-old tradition in Kilgore continued Thursday as the Danville Cemetery Association held their annual picnic.

Held at the historic cemetery on Co. Rd. 2452, the picnic is an opportunity for family members of those buried at the cemetery to enjoy fellowship, live music and to discuss business matters of the site. The tradition began in 1926.

Pastor David Hampton of Friendship Baptist Church in Kilgore gave a brief sermon, discussing the names written on the gravestones in the cemetery and names written in the Book of Life.

“We have all kinds of inscriptions on headstones and things like that. We like to remember folks. That’s part of the reason we have cemeteries,” Hampton said.

“There is a time that’s going to come when the Bible talks about that every grave is going to be opened,” he said, referencing Revelations 20:12, which describes the resurrection of the dead during the Final Judgment.

“Most of us, when we walk through a cemetery, we may know somebody, we may have known them fairly well and we say ‘well, I could tell you most of Fred or Sue’s life story.’ But we couldn’t tell all the life stories. But I guarantee you the Creator can.”

Hampton’s sermon centered on the fact that, while it is important to do the work of maintaining the cemetery to honor and remember the dead, there will one day no longer be a need for cemeteries like Danville.

“One day, these graves will no longer be useful. They will no longer have a purpose. They will no longer contain the dead. There is a time limit on the usefulness of a grave and a voice is going to call forth the dead and everyone is going to respond,” Hampton said.

Following the sermon, the musical entertainment commenced as Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark of bluegrass band The Purple Hulls, originally from East Texas, strapped on their instruments to accompany young musicians Evelyn and Sawyer Sullens.

The quartet played traditional religious songs, including “I’ll Fly Away” and “Amazing Grace.”

After the music, Danville Cemetery Association President Morris Hollowell discussed association business.

He began by informing the members the DCA, as of June 8, had $123,269 in the bank account used for maintenance and upkeep expenses at the cemetery.

He also gave members an update on the purchase and installation of a new roof at the Danville Cemetery pavilion where the picnic was held.

“(Last year) we spoke with Danny Downing (Kilgore Parks & Facilities director) from the city and he said if we could wait until the fall that they would give us some help installing it as far as taking the old roof off and they did that. It helped us an awful lot. They took the old roof off and did away with all that debris,” Hollowell said.

DCA got bids from three roofing companies for the installation of the new roof. They chose a bid of $2,975 for the installation and painting of any pipe structures not painted by the city. They purchased the roofing materials from Mueller, Inc., of Kilgore, for $3,950 for a total cost of $6,925.

Hollowell’s announcement was met with exclamations of “Looks good!” and “Good job!” from the members.

After the announcements, DCA members tucked into a spread of picnic food including fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, sliced cantaloupe and a variety of desserts.

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