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Champion Fiddler Milnes to join July 16 free Parsons program

Friends of Blackwater has announced that award-winning old-time fiddle player Gerry Milnes from Elkins will provide music for a free community history program, “Shootout at the Depot,” starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, July 16, at the old Tucker County Courthouse in Parsons. Tucker County Sheriff Jack Kopec will serve as the Bailiff for the courtoom drama program.

Milnes, one of West Virginia’s most distinguished old-time musicians and folklorists, recently took second place in the Senior Division at the 2022 Vandalia Gathering fiddle competition.

“We are super-excited that Gerry is going to be part of the ‘Shootout at the Depot’ program,” said Tom Rodd, who is organizing the program for Friends of Blackwater, ArtSpring and the Tucker County Historical Society.

“Shootout at the Deport” tells the story of an 1897 gunfight in a railroad passenger car in Parsons, where Robert Eastham, a Canaan Valley landowner and logger, killed a sawmill owner named Frank Thompson – and a dramatic murder trial followed.

In the program, Bill Peterson of Davis will portray Robert Eastham. 1890s Judge Homer Holt will be portrayed by County Commissioner Lowell Moore, attorneys Savannah Wilkins and Pat A. Nichols will portray the prosecutor and defense attorney. Along with Sheriff Jack Kopec, Debbie McHenry, Casey Rucker, Sarah Fletcher, Elaine George, Cindy Kolsun, and Ruth Melnick will portray historic characters.

West Virginia University Historian William Hal Gorby will speak during the program, and there will be a reception with free refreshments at the Parsons Depot from 3-4 p.m. Reservations are not required, but RSVPs to help planning are welcome. Get more information and RSVP at saveblackwater.org, or call 304-345-7663. The program is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

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