An annual music festival to celebrate the music of the Man in Black is literally being moved to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home…or that is, next to the home.
In 2011, Arkansas State University started the process of acquiring and restoring the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess. In order to raise funds for the project, the Johnny Cash Music Festival was held in Jonesboro.
Over the years, the boyhood house, the old theatre building and the administration building have been restored under the first phase of the project, thanks to the proceeds from the music festival.
In order to start the second phase of work, the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival will take place. Instead of one concert being held in Jonesboro, this festival will cover three days in October. A symposium will take place October 19th and 20th, and the music portion of the festival will be held on Saturday, October 21st. Johnny Cash’s oldest daughter Rosanne says it is appropriate that the festival and the music be held at the location where the Cash family moved during the New Deal Era. Rosanne says the cotton fields that surround the home are perfect for the concert, because the land was an inspiration for much of her dad’s music.
"The Sunken Lands provided the kind of work ethic that he took with him his whole life," said Cash. "He didn't romanticize picking cotton, but he always would talk about what that land meant to him and what Dyess mean to him."
The Dyess Colony was created in 1934 as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to aid the nation’s recovery from the Great Depression. Cash explains how it impacted the families who lived there.
"The Cash family moved there in 1935 as part of the New Deal," said Cash. "The New Deal saved the 500 families that lived there."
Rosanne Cash. The symposium will focus on arts and artistry from the New Deal. The music on October 21st will feature Osceola native Buddy Jewel at 12:15. At 1:30, Tommy and Joanne Cash will perform. At three p.m., Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristopherson will perform a two-hour concert. A hydraulic stage for the concert will be placed in a field next to the boyhood home. Proceeds from this festival will be used to start the second phase of the project, which will be to re-create the farmstead buildings at the Cash Boyhood Home.