There’s murder and mystery brewing in the Seven Hills and it’s all to entertain local and raise funds.

The fifth annual Murder Mystery dinner fundraiser for Floyd Against Drugs takes place March 21 and as usual, a slew of well-known Rome residents will dress up in full period costume for a night of laughs.

Each year’s event has a different theme and this year’s is “There’s Gold and Murder in Them There 7 Hills.”

The year is 1855 and it’s the end of the California Gold Rush. News spreads quickly of a new gold rush in the seven hills of Rome, Georgia and many would-be prospectors quickly descend on the small town to stake their claims — outlaws, dames, famous lawmen and old west gunslingers.

They include such names as Willy the Kid, Hank and Messy James, Frannie Stokely, Wild Phil Hiccup and Calamity Cate. The Mayor of Rome, Rich Sams, has decided to throw a town social to show these visitors just how friendly Romans can be. But there are lots of angry locals who have it out for one another. Someone will end up dead.

As always, Rome residents are invited to purchase tickets to the dinner at which they’ll interact with the cast throughout the evening, picking up clues about the various relationships. Then at the end of the meal, when the murder takes place, guests will have the chance to submit their guesses for who the murderer is.

This year’s cast includes several members who participate each year as well as a few newbies. They are Sammy Rich, Brad Bushnell, Bo Bushnell, Rhonda Wallace, Severo Avila, Scotty Hancock, Dr. Ryan Cox, Christa Jackson, Dr. Melinda Strickland, Elaine Abercrombie, Randy Quick, JJ Johnson, Cathy Kerce and Robert Smyth.

The cast is encouraged to wear full period costume and to stay in character throughout the night, so guests can expect hilarious interactions with the old west residents.

Rhonda Wallace has been participating in the event since it began. This year she plays Connie, the girlfriend and outlaw partner to Hyde Sparrow.

“I love being a part of the murder mystery,” Wallace said. “It’s so much fun. This year I play a very smart and beautiful lady who is the girlfriend of Hyde Sparrow, a handsome gentleman who will do whatever I say. I love that. My reason for getting involved with FAD is just to help bring awareness to our community about the drug/alcohol problem we have in our society. I have personally seen it ruin students, parents and families lives. Underage drinking is a big problem.”

City Manager Sammy Rich is a cast member this year and will play DeWight Surp, the owner of Tombstone Enterprises. He's Rome's richest citizen and it's no secret that he's at odds with the town mayor, being played by Rome News-Tribune's Severo Avila.

"While I was initially reluctant when asked by Michelle Edmondson to participate in the Murder Mystery Dinner fundraiser, I knew I simply had to do my part to help the community," Rich said. "The opportunity to help, coupled with any slight possibility to shank fellow cast member Severo Avila in the back was simply too good an opportunity to miss. But more importantly, this great event serves as a fundraiser to help keep us in the fight and supports Floyd Against Drugs. FAD works tirelessly to decrease substance use in our community, which benefits everyone. While you may not be personally impacted by substance use, please know the negative impacts to our community directly impacts all of us in some way."

The popular event is a fundraiser for Floyd Against Drugs whose mission it is to mobilize the community to reduce the use of drugs, tobacco and underage drinking in Rome and Floyd County.

The funds raised during the event increase the capacity and effectiveness of the community coalition efforts to decrease substance use in the county and the city.

“Your contribution will allow us to continue community awareness activities about the extent and impact of substance use in our community,” said Christa Gilmore, President of Floyd Against Drugs. “We also encourage community action. An example of one activity that we recently completed is a Sticker Shock Campaign in local liquor stores where labels are placed on bags and packaged goods displaying the legal consequences of purchasing and providing alcohol to minors in an effort to reduce underage access to alcohol."

This year’s murder mystery is expected to draw about 3000 guests. Sponsoring businesses will be featured in the event program. There are also different levels of sponsorships — platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

The event also includes a silent auction. Community businesses and individuals are invited to donate items to the auction. All donations are tax deductible.

Tickets to the event are $40 and are available online at www.floydagainstdrugs.com (or from select cast members and FAD board members). For sponsorship, call 706-291-5181.