Annual Homecoming in Lexington
The following is an article written by Nancy Perry almost forty years ago about Lexington’s Annual Homecoming, just a few weeks away.
Joe Fowler grew up in Lexington. When he was a grown man living in Houston, he came back to Lexington to visit. This was in 1966 (in the ‘olden days’). He visited the church he had attended as a little boy and enjoyed that visit so much that he went back to Houston and called all his friends, who had also lived in Lexington, and told them what a good feeling it was to go back home.
Many telephone calls were made between friends in Houston and a trip back home was planned. They even chartered a bus to make the trip back to Lexington on a Sunday to visit the churches they had attended as children. They planned to bring a picnic lunch and they called the local Chamber of Commerce President and asked where they could have their picnic.
Mr. Herter, the Chamber President at the time, told them not to bring a lunch. He said if they were coming home, the Chamber would prepare a feast for them and invite the town.
Many Lexington ladies gathered at the school cafeteria and cooked beans, made potato salad, and baked cakes to add to the feast. The men met at the barbecue pit and cooked the barbecue. The old gym was set up as the place to serve the meal.
The bus arrived and all the friends went to the church of their childhood, and then they gathered at the gym for lunch. And something happened that the planners had not anticipated. It rained, and it rained, and it rained that day! Everyone had to run into the gym to keep from getting drenched.
Despite the rain, everyone had a wonderful time and decided that they would come back the next year, and do it all again. As a matter of fact, they had a meeting that day to plan the next event and they discussed the idea of buying the property, which is now Lexington Memorial Park, to accommodate events such as this.
Since that first gathering in 1966, every first Sunday in May has always been celebrated as “Homecoming” in Lexington, which was really a time of coming home to visit friends and family. For many years immediately following the first Homecoming, townsfolk only gathered on Sunday for church and lunch. But Saturday was soon added, along with a number of events to keep the crowd entertained, including a rodeo, a street dance, arts, crafts, food, games for the kids, a parade, and, later, a barbecue cookoff.
Since Homecoming started as a trip back to church, the Chamber began to open Homecoming activities with a Thursday night “Gospel Singing” at one of the local churches. Sometimes, the Gospel Singing was held on the Square, when weather allowed. Church choirs, adults, and children, from many of the churches in town, sang for those who filled the church.
In 1966, Homecoming happened only on Sunday. Now, it is a four day celebration attended by many people of all ages, who come home to visit with friends and family. All in all, it is a good thing!