BECKLEY, W.Va. — When Robert and Frances Lilly settled near the banks of the Bluestone River in the 1700s with their four sons, they might have dreamed it would be a place that their descendants would always call “home.”
And although that settlement was moved because of the construction of the Bluestone Dam, their family does come home to gather each year in Mercer County for what was once the World’s Largest Family Reunion, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Lillys achieved that record in 2009 when attendance was 2,585, but have since been topped by the Porteau-Boileve family, which achieved 4,514 family members gathered at Saint-Paul-Mont-Pénit, Vendée, France, in August 2012.
Loss of a world record will likely not put too much of a damper on the festivities that resemble a small-town festival this year. The reunion begins Aug. 8 with a dinner buffet, and ends on Sunday with prizes. Throughout the weekend, music and other entertainment, along with food, and children’s rides and games will keep everyone busy, according to reunion president Darrell Lilly.
“Everybody loves doing it,” Lilly said. “There are Lillys across the world, and for some of them, this is their yearly visit.”
The reunion is up against higher gas prices this year, but Lilly said he still expects people from 25 states and Canada to attend the August Lilly gathering…