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On Friday and Sunday, February 24 and 26, a play re-enactment of “The trial of Billy the Kid” brought the past into the Rio Grande Theatre as directed by Ross Marks. While William Antrim (Billy the Kid) was found guilty at the time, April 6, 1881, the modern-day audiences at the theater found him innocent both nights.
Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady was killed in Lincoln County and Billy the Kid was tried for the murder at the Doña Ana County Courthouse in Mesilla. The event was part of the infamous Lincoln County War, a violent conflict that lasted almost two years.
“The Trial of Billy the Kid’ really exceeded my expectations in terms of the tense courtroom drama and tremendous audience response,” Marks said. “It really whetted my appetite to take it to other theaters (he’s already in talks with Ruidoso and Silver City) and turning it into a film. The success of the play proves what I already knew, which is that there is a ton of talent right here in Las Cruces.”
Following the Sunday performance, the organizers of Billy the Kid Festival held over the whole weekend, were surprised with a special presentation. The organizers, also known as The Friends of Pat Garrett (part of the Doña Ana County Historical Society) received gifts from Scott Davis, the great-grandson of Pat Garrett, who shared gifts of appreciation for keeping the history of his great-grandfather alive.
The gifts were 16-1/2-inch sculpted figurines of Pat Garrett in marble and covered in a liquid bronze coating. Each member of the group was presented with a copy.
On Feb. 25 the festival presented the movie “Young Guns” as well as a live musical presentation, “Sing the Legend,” featuring Emmy award-winner Dan Crow, Karla Steen, Steve Smith and Anne Luna with original songs about Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Stagecoach Mary Fields, The Fountain Mystery, Deacon Jim Miller and more.