(06/24/2002)

Winner Eugene Parsons (R) accompanied by
Mike Loving (L) at Folk Festival

By Bob Weaver

A Calhoun banjo picker and fiddler have won first place in the over 50 contest at the 53rd West Virginia Folk Festival at Glenville. A large crowd attended the music competition, a center piece of the festival.

Orma resident Eugene Parsons won first place in the banjo competition. "My mother (Phoeba Parsons) taught me original tunes and the original way, and I've stuck to it," he said. Parsons was accompanied by guitar player John Loving from Cross Lanes.

Lester McCumbers of Nicut won first place in the over 50 contest. McCumbers, who is an over 80 fiddler, must be getting use to trophies, plaques and sometimes a little cash for performing his talent. During the Folk Festival competition, Eugene Parsons accompanied McCumbers in his win.

Both Parsons and McCumbers had plenty of competition at the festival.

Parsons played on a banjo made by music man Jenes Cottrell in 1969 from a torque converter off a 1956 Buick. Jenes hand-crafted the banjos in his home which did not have electric. He made several, all in current circulation.

Lester McCumbers sips coffee from McCumber's Cup

McCumbers, who has often taught Calhoun's young award winning fiddler Jake Krack, was drinking and smiling with a coffee cup engraved with his name.

Numerous Calhoun musicians continue a long tradition of excelling in original mountain music, bluegrass and gospel. Both Parsons and Cottrell played with eloquence befitting a symphony orchestra.

Parson's mom, the late Phoeba Parsons, was a shining star along with her brother Noah Cottrell, for at least 25 years at the Folk Festival. Phoeba and Noah, besides being accomplished mountain musicians, were great entertainers.

Phoeba was also a flatfoot dancer, a talent that was generally reserved for men. She could do it with the best of them. She performed at the 1963 World's Fair.

Mack Samples said "Phoeba was the real thing."

Calhoun music fans cheer the entertainers


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