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Are We There Yet?

3-day Johnny Cash Festival in Arkansas to commemorate musician

By Jack Schnedler

This article was published August 31, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

the-former-dyess-colony-movie-theater-houses-a-visitor-center-and-museum-opened-last-year-to-complement-tours-of-the-johnny-cash-boyhood-home

The former Dyess Colony movie theater houses a visitor center and museum opened last year to complement tours of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.



DYESS -- It's still seven weeks until the three-day Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in his boyhood hometown. But it's high time to buy tickets for the headline concert.

Reserved seating for the Oct. 21 celebrity event is already just about sold out, at $53 and $103. Still available for $28 is general admission space on the concert grounds outside the Arkansas Delta bungalow where the future legend grew up.

The Oct. 21 program, featuring Cash family members, will follow free concerts by Arkansas roots musicians on Oct. 19-20. Fans can also stoke memories of the Man in Black at the visitor center and museum, which opened a year ago following dedication of the restored Cash home in 2014. Souvenirs galore are for sale.

This newer facility occupies the former movie theater and soda shop of Dyess Colony Resettlement Area, a New Deal project created to house poor farmers during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Cash, who was 3 years old when his parents moved here in 1935, graduated in 1950 from the local high school.

A four-minute video is highlighted by comments from Cash family members. Five display panels trace the long career of a star whose global popularity -- 90 million recordings sold -- is reflected in the international mix of visitors to Dyess.

Cash's lifelong devotion to Arkansas is manifest in a display panel listing 37 concerts that he performed in the state. The first came on Aug. 3, 1955, at Little Rock's Robinson Auditorium and the last on June 13, 1996, at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts. He died in 2003.

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Cash performed 14 times in Little Rock -- seven times at Barton Coliseum, four at Robinson Center, and once each at Wildwood, War Memorial Stadium (during a 1989 Billy Graham crusade), and a 1968 rally for Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.

Renowned for his performances at Folsom and San Quentin penitentiaries in California, Cash also did a concert at the Cummins Unit prison near Grady. He appeared onstage four times in Texarkana, thrice in Fort Smith, twice in Hot Springs and once in 13 other locales.

Inadvertently omitted from the museum's list is a 1978 show at Jonesboro's Arkansas State University. But that event gets its own exhibit case displaying a harmonica.

It seems that ASU student Tim Dean positioned himself near the stage, knowing Cash usually threw a few harmonicas into the audience at the end of "Orange Blossom Special."

In later years director of ASU's Convocation Center, Dean was in luck that evening. A posting asserts that he "still cherishes the night he caught this M. Hohner Marine Band Harmonica from the Man in Black."

Oct. 21's concert outside the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home will begin at 12:15 p.m. with songs by family friend Buddy Jewell. On stage at 1:30 p.m. will be Joanne Cash and Tommy Cash, Johnny's youngest siblings, who were born in the house. The headliners at 3 p.m. will be Kris Kristofferson and Rosanne Cash, Johnny's daughter.

The free performances by Arkansas musicians on Oct. 19-20 will also take place outdoors, on a temporary stage next to the visitor center and museum. The festival aims to repeat the success of fundraising concerts held in previous years at ASU in Jonesboro. The Cash home is one of four heritage sites created and maintained by the university.

Tours of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home depart by shuttle bus for the two-mile drive from the Dyess Colony Visitor Center, 110 Center Drive. They run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The home visit costs $10 ($8 for senior citizens and groups of 10 or more, $5 for those 5-18 and college students with an ID, free for children under 5 and ASU students). It's free to visit the museum in the visitor center.

For details on touring the boyhood home, visit dyesscash.astate.edu or call (870) 764-2274 For information on Johnny Cash Heritage Festival tickets, visit johnnycashheritagefestival.com or call (870) 972-2781.

Weekend on 08/31/2017

Print Headline: 3-day Johnny Cash Festival to commemorate musician

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