Chalk Mountain's annual community event is scheduled for 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, beginning at the Chalk Mountain Cemetery, continuing with the 85th annual Oden Chapel homecoming and ending with the 115-year-old historic Chalk Mountain Masonic Lodge #894 open house tour.
Although the event has only been going on for a few years, Chalk Mountain Cemetery Day has been around for more than 60.
“Back in the day families used to come to the cemetery to clean up the cemetery and take care of their folks,” said Dave Anderson, one of the officers of Chalk Mountain and coordinator of the combined event.
Over the years, the Chalk Mountain Cemetery Day dwindled and only about 20 people showed up every year.
“My cousin, Dwayne Jackson, is the president of the Cemetery Association and I said, ‘Look, do we need to just pull the plug on this or do we want people to come?’ And I love what they said. They said, ‘This is a community cemetery that represents the history of our community, and so we’d really like the people who have moved here and all of the counties around to know that we’re still here and that this is for everyone.’ So, I utilized Facebook and some other things and last year we had 122 people show up,” Anderson said.
Along with the cemetery, Oden Chapel was struggling to get families to come there as well.
“I said, ‘Look guys, why don’t we do this all in one day and make it a ‘Chalk Mountain event day?’ And then, because I knew the lodge, I talked to them and they said, ‘Yeah, we’ll have an open house.’ This is the first year we’ve had all three,” Anderson said.
From 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the event will kick off with a cemetery gathering with “Dinner on the Ground.” Guests will be asked to bring their favorite food for four to six people and the food will be spread out “family style.”
“It’s the biggest community covered dish,” Anderson added. “It’s just a family, community meal in the way only Erath and Somervell counties can do it.”
The cemetery gathering will include a scavenger hunt for all ages and the winner with the most items on the list will receive a prize of their choosing from a treasure chest.
The gathering will also feature performances by blue grass bands, Bosque River Band and Blue Grassfire Band, along with special guest fiddler Joseph Jackson.
The public is invited to bring their favorite historic or sentimental quilt for the quit display as well.
“Bring your quilts, bring your food and just be a part of the family,” Anderson added.
From 2-4 p.m., attendees will get to celebrate the annual Oden Chapel homecoming with beautiful views and gospel singing of old favorites with Brazos Point Church bluegrass band.
Community members are also encouraged to bring their favorite freezer of homemade ice cream to compete in The Great Churn Off ice cream competition. The winner will receive a trophy.
From 4:30-6 p.m., visitors will be able to tour the original upstairs meeting room in the Masonic Lodge that was originally lit by candlelight and coal oil lamps. The lodge upstairs has original handmade farmer’s furniture inside it as well.
Attendees are encouraged to look around and see the display of the vast history of the little lodge on display and they are also encouraged to ask why they are considered a blue lodge.
A small gift will be presented to each family while supplies last.
Due to Anderson’s involvement, the event is definitely growing. Last year, the event pulled in people from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington and all over Texas.
“Coast to coast and next door,” Anderson added.
Anderson also said that with all three activities now added to the main event, he believes people will enjoy “the scenery, the at-home feeling and the new/old history that the public will experience from all three of them.”
“So much of what all we do today is wrapped around our phones; it’s wrapped around our technology. We’re busy because it’s easier to do so many things that the things of yesteryear, things that our grandparents and great-great-grandparents loved to do, are disappearing and we want to preserve that. We want to preserve the history of Chalk Mountain but we want to really preserve and show the next generation that this is how it used to be. This is your kinfolk. This is Texas history continuing,” Anderson said. “That’s the significance is keeping our history alive so we can honor it. We don’t celebrate the dead, but we honor the lives that they gave us.”