|Officials at Arkansas State University announced the first Johnny Cash Music Festival concert, to be held Thursday, August 4, 7:30 p.m., at ASU’s Convocation Center, 217 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro.
The media event featured members of the Cash family. Rosanne Cash, John Carter Cash, and Tommy Cash officially announcing the creation of the festival and the talent lineup for this inaugural concert. The Cash family is working with Arkansas State University to develop an annual Johnny Cash Music Festival, with proceeds each year going to restoration of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the establishment of a museum. The university recently acquired the original Cash homeplace in Dyess and plans to restore the structure. The university also plans the establishment of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Museum in the New Deal Era Administration Building at Dyess.
The Cash family is committed to ongoing involvement in this project to ensure that the festival remains vibrant and that the Johnny Cash legacy is preserved in Dyess. Ray and Carrie Cash and their children, including 3-year-old J. R. (later known as Johnny Cash), were among five colonist families recruited from Cleveland County, Arkansas, to the historic Dyess Colony.
Johnny Cash lived in Dyess until he graduated from high school in 1950. His music is greatly influenced by his experiences in Dyess, including such songs as “Pickin’ Time” and “Five Feet High and Rising.” The Cash home is one of the few houses remaining in the former agricultural resettlement colony.
As Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director, Arkansas Heritage Sites and Arkansas Delta Byways, emphasized, “The Johnny Cash Music Festival will not be just a concert, but an opportunity to preserve the legacy of an internationally recognized legend. We are proud that Johnny Cash is from Arkansas and that growing up here had an impact on his music. It is time that we pay permanent tribute to his memory, and we are especially grateful to the Cash family for their involvement and support in this endeavor.”
Key partners working with Arkansas State University on this first festival include Bill Carter of Gaither Television Productions, Jan Eric Volz of Northern Sierra Entertainment Services, Joey Pruett of Glen Sain Motors, the Cash family, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, East Arkansas Broadcasters, Suddenlink, and the City of Dyess.
The City of Dyess reports: “We have purchased the Dyess Colony Administration Building! All proceeds from concerts and fund raising will be used to complete the renovation of the building to make the Johnny Cash Memorial. After that is finished, we are planning to restore the town circle as close as possible, to its original state. This includes restoring the old movie theater, and renaming it the Johnny Cash Movie theatre, making it as original and old fashioned as possible, based on the original plans and the memories of our senior residents from the time of Johnny Cash’s childhood.”