This weekend, folks with one Texoma cemetery will host a fish fry on its grounds, and while that might seem unusual, the purpose is not.
The fish fry will also be a beautification clean-up project to ensure the final resting place for many remains beautiful.
Kelly Ewing has lived in Iowa Park for nearly 35 years. She said for so many of those years, she would drive by the cemetery, never thinking she would get involved with it.
“Until you have a loved one out here, you really don’t acknowledge the cemetery much,” Ewing said.
Tragically, Ewing now does have a loved one there. Nearly two years ago, her 20-year-old son Nathan was killed.
“In one breath, it feels like it was yesterday and then in another notion, it seems like forever since I’ve hugged him, talked to him,” Ewing said.
Ewing is president of the Highland Cemetery Association, which operates the cemetery. It runs on donations and money from funerals, paying for expenses like mowing the cemetery which over the years, was an issue. She and others like grounds supervisor Dan Fears believe things have gotten better since Ewing and other new members have joined the board.
“There were times that it got pretty rough. It’s got people, Kelly and some other people that really have a desire to make this a better place for everybody,” Fears said.
“The past board, they were wonderful, but they had all served for a long time. And it was time for other people to step up and help out and offer more suggestions,” Ewing said.
That’s when the idea came up for the beautification and fish fry, helping raise money to keep the cemetery maintained. Ewing said there’s been a lot of support but also some opposition to having a fish fry on the grounds. She explained, however, this event is not original.
“It’s called dinner on the grounds. It had started in the 1800s, where you came together as a community, cleaned up your cemetery, got it ready for spring and it was family traditions,” Ewing said.
An Iowa Park couple, soon celebrating 64 years of marriage, who were out cleaning their own future final resting place are counting on future generations.
“They need to take up where we’re leaving off,” Bernadine Henson said. “If you want to stay young, keep active.”
Hopefully, they will keep the Highland Cemetery looking it’s best for all.
The clean-up begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and goes until 4 p.m. The fish fry, at a cost of $10 per plate goes from noon until 2 p.m.
In case of rain, the clean-up will start as soon as the rain ends. The fish fry will go on as planned. There’ll be ‘to go’ plates available for purchase too. Plus, any donation to the cemetery in any amount is always welcomed.