Variety concert, podcasts, ball part of growing Longview 150 slate

Editor's note: A previous version of this story reported an incorrect venue for the Longview 150 ball. This version has been corrected.

More events and activities are filling into next year’s Longview 150 sesquicentennial celebration.

At a monthly meeting Wednesday, Longview 150 planners learned about a variety concert, along with the existence of a historical record of Longview’s black community over the city’s first 100 years and about a Longview Public Library endeavor to archive residents’ memories of the city.

Concert organizer Daniell Kenney said he has reached out to several renowned artists such as Peabo Bryson and Howard Hewitt along with gospel singer Tramaine Hawkins. No act has committed and no exact date is set, but Kenney said he wants to hold the concert at LeTourneau University’s Belcher Center.

“It’s going to a be a variety” of musicians and acts, said Laura Hill, director of the city’s Community Services division and Longview 150 planning.

The library is asking all present or former residents of Longview to talk on audio recordings about their memories of growing up in the city or how Longview has been shaped by certain historical or cultural events.

Those recordings will be archived and preserved, but they also will be used in daily podcasts from the library during the five sesquicentennial celebration months of January through May 2020. Gregg County Historical Museum Executive Director Lindsay Loy said she would like to transcribe and post some of those accounts as part of a museum exhibit next year.

Among the events tentatively settled for Longview 150 is the NAACP-Longview Chapter’s presentation of the Pleasant Hill Quilters Group on Jan. 25 at First United Methodist Church.

Tickets are nearly sold out for the Junior League of Longview’s Sesquicentennial Ball on Feb. 22 at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center, Hill said.

“They don’t want to stuff people in there. They want to maintain the quality of the event, which I appreciate,” she said.

Attendees will receive a book chronicling the ball and related work that is being compiled by historian and Junior League member Meredith May.

Incoming Gregg County Historical Commission President Vince Williams is working with local businessman Cole Tomberlain to produce commemorative cigars that would have the Longview 150 logo illustrated on a gold-embossed band.

The Whataburger of East Texas-sponsored transportation show is tentatively scheduled March 21, while the weekend of April 17-19 is filling up with a sesquicentennial parade, Dalton Days, First Baptist Church Homecoming 150 social and worship services and the annual rodeo.

“Things are really picking up,” Hill said.

So far, the museum has sold 15 metal replica balloons and will extend its sales deadline past June 30 in hopes of selling at least 30 balloons, Loy said.

NAACP member Sophia Brewer said she learned from a recent newspaper obituary that the late Magaret Crow wrote a paper 50 years ago called “The Negro in Longview: A Centennial Tribute 1870-1970.” Library Director Jennifer Eldridge said the library has it in their collection and would post it to the library web page.

Hill also has met with businessman John Green about possibly producing a special event or luncheon that brings together “nationally recognized figures” to help celebrate Longview’s heritage. She said the idea came from a similar event during the centennial year of 1970, in which people such as H.L. Hunt, former U.S. ambassador to Australia Ed Clark and then-Gov. Preston Smith came to the city.

To learn more or find out how to get involved in Longview 150 planning, email Hill at .