It takes a village to pull off Climax Ham and Egg Supper

Published 5:28 pm Friday, April 3, 2015

What does it take for a community to keep its cemetery “alive”?

In the city of Climax it takes 50 pounds of grits, 150 dozen eggs, 60 pounds of biscuit mix, 15 pounds of oleo, many pounds of ham and sausage from Jones Meats, and a village of committed volunteers.

It has been a tradition for 25 years to hold a supper on the Thursday before Easter to raise funds to support the local cemetery. The organization usually nets between $5,000 and $6,000 from the event, all of which goes to maintain the upkeep of the cemetery.

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According to the current lady in charge, Flora Nell Hughes, the supper was the idea of former Climax residents, Lois and Randy Swafford. Almost daily they could be seen tending the graves and grasses of the cemetery.

Originally it was a pancake supper, but Flora Nell said they soon changed it to the ham and egg supper because they couldn’t keep up making enough pancakes to serve all the people who came. And the people do come, from far and wide, not only to eat, but also to help cook.

John Phillips and his wife Starlet come every year from Atlanta to help cook. Likewise Jackie Dodson has come from as far away as California each year to help. He now lives in Panama City Beach, so the trip is much easier. This year he, his brother Phillip Dodson and Joe Salter were in charge of baking biscuits.

Not everyone is an “old timer.” As the senior members grow older, young ones are apprenticing to keep it going. Bainbridge attorney, Wheat Kirbo was discovered frying sausage and ham. He said it was his first time to help. Asked why he became involved, he replied he had family from Climax and his grandparents are buried in the cemetery.

Why do so many people continue to come cook for the hordes of people who show up to eat a simple supper? The immediate answer seems to be that someone they knew and loved is buried there.

But, it is much more than that. The supper has become a rite of spring—a reunion, if you will. The date coincides with spring break from many educational institutions as well as those coming home for an Easter celebration with family and friends.

The evening benefits the whole Climax community in subtle ways.

The food is well prepared, delicious, and portions generous. Beyond that, everyone appears to have a good time, whether they are working or eating and socializing.