CHESTERFEST: Sunset Memorial booth will highlight the historical significance of Sunset to the Chester area

Sunset Memorial Park in Chester will host an information booth Saturday, September 28 at the 12th ChesterFest located at Chester Village Green in Chester.

Sponsored by the Chester Community Association, ChesterFest offers entertainment for the entire family and features over 100 vendors offering information and giveaways for young and old alike. ChesterFest hours are 10a.m. to 5 p.m..

Sunset Memorial Park’s booth will provide information on the history of the cemetery and will also feature a prominent elder in the community who will discuss her history and answer questions about Sunset’s history and the Chester area’s past.

92 year-old Sara Eanes, who was born in 1921, lived on the cemetery property with her parents and five sisters and remembers closing the cemetery gates promptly at dusk and walking with numerous suitors through the cemetery lawn.  “I was born on the property that is now Sunset Cemetery, the day President Harding was inaugurated, and was 12 years old when President Roosevelt was sworn into office. Sunset Cemetery has always been a part of my life,” she said. The house she grew up in still remains in her family and is located on the cemetery grounds.

Mrs. Eanes will be on hand to answer questions and reflect on the cemetery’s history and importance to the Chester community.

Sunset Memorial Park has been a part of the Chester Community for over 80 years and much of its history reflects the life and times of the Chester community said Karen Artis, community outreach specialist at Sunset. Sunset was at one time a family cemetery for the Harrill Family, and contains the grave of a Civil War veteran. In 1934, the park incorporated and became Sunset Park Cemetery. In May 1946, it was willed to the Methodist Orphanage in Richmond, and in May 1962, the Butler family purchased the park from the Orphanage. A house adjacent to the cemetery is rumored to have been a Civil War hospital.  In 1991, Service Corporation International purchased Sunset Memorial Park.

Artis noted that her parents, who were African American, were buried across the Street from Sunset at the Moore Cemetery. Times have changed in Chester and so has Sunset Cemetery she said. Burial traditions and customs have evolved and through this evolution, Sunset Memorial Park has been a mainstay in the community helping families through one of the most personal and challenging times in their lives.

Sunset’s booth will be manned for the duration of ChesterFest and will also provide handouts and giveaways for all who visit the booth.

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