The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 30, 2014

Civil War dancing demonstration one of history expo highlights: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — Saturday, re-enactors of Gov. and Mrs. Francis Pierpont and Sen. and Mrs. John Carlile were in full traditional dress to celebrate the 2014 Mountaineer State History Expo at the Marion County Courthouse.

The expo went from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and included more than 30 exhibits, numerous musicians and bands, and a concession stand, filling all three floors of the courthouse. There were even free trolley rides just outside the courthouse.

But for many attendees, the big event for the day was the Civil War dancing demonstration at noon.

Gov. and Mrs. Francis Pierpont, re-enacted by Art and Pam Dodds, and Sen. and Mrs. John Carlile, re-enacted by Gary and Millie Goetze, taught interested participants how to do several different folk dances from the period, known as “reels.”

India Carvell, who came with her dad, Gary Carvell, said the dancing is her favorite part of the event each year.

“I’ve been here two times before, and it’s always been really fun, so I couldn’t resist this year,” Carvell said.

Millie Goetze said she loves having the opportunity to put on traditional dress each year, and teach people about their local history.

“It’s fun,” Millie Goetze said. “Getting to chat one-on-one with people, and, with

the little ones, introducing a new generation to something that is not familiar to them, and to point out why people dressed the way they did, and some of the customs.”

The Goetzes have been portraying the Carliles at events for about five years now, Millie Goetze said.

The expo was co-sponsored by the Marion County Historical Society and the Marion County Commission.

Dora Kay Grubb, Marion County Historical Society president, said that turnout was good this year.

“It doesn’t look as crowded as it is because it’s spread out on three floors,” Grubb said. “But I’d say we’ve had at least 800 to 1,000 people here.”

Grubb said that all kinds of people showed up for the festivities.

“It’s been all ages, and all types of people,” Grubb said. Grubb said she loved what that said about Marion County.

“Yes, we all belong in Marion County,” Grubb said. “And I think it’s good.”

The day was very busy.

“There’s just all kinds of things going on,” Grubb said. “We had some new exhibitors this year, and we had some old favorites.”

One of those new exhibits was by Scottish Heritage of West Virginia, which came with its very own bagpiper, Marvin Carr, dressed in traditional Scottish attire.

“The kilt alone costs usually around $400,” Grubb said.

Grubb said that the event couldn’t happen without the help of volunteers.

“It takes about three months of work and about 40 people,” Grubb said. “We’re really lucky. Everyone that is here is a volunteer, both with their organizations and the people that work here.”

This is just one of many of the programs that the Marion County Historical Society sponsors each year.

“All of these programs take work, and we’re basically strictly a grant and donation group, so we’re just dependent on volunteers to exist,” Grubb.

This year, the food sold at the concession stand was donated by area businesses and individuals.

“The public, the stores and the owners, have been just wonderful with donations this year to help us out. They were so generous,” Grubb said. Because of the donations, all proceeds from the food sales were able to go to the historical society.

Grubb said that maintenance staff from the courthouse also went above and beyond this year.

“The maintenance people have just been tremendous, helping us set up and tear down,” Grubb said. “Because we’re getting to the age where we really can’t do that anymore, so we really appreciate them.”

Grubb said that she hopes to see everyone at next year’s expo. But in the meantime, the historical society could use some more volunteers.

“We always need members to help put on projects like this, and help do other things,” Grubb said. Future projects include a statue of Francis Pierpont and restoration of the Marion County Jail, creating an exhibit for the second floor.

Email Colleen S. Good at or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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