Category: News

Call for Symposium Presentations: Johnny Cash Heritage Festival

johnnycash_dyess_logo_finalA call for presentations for a public symposium in conjunction with the inaugural Johnny Cash Heritage Festival has been issued by Arkansas State University. The symposium, “Johnny Cash Heritage Festival: Arts and Artistry from the New Deal and Beyond,” will be held in Dyess, Ark., Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 19-21.

The event is co-sponsored by the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the A-State Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program.

“I’m excited to coordinate the symposium,” said Dr. Gregory Hansen, professor of folklore and English at A-State. “Not only will it support public programming at our Dyess heritage site, but it will create invaluable opportunities for students and faculty affiliated with A-State’s Heritage Studies Doctoral Program.”

Symposium organizers seek proposals that address how the New Deal era resettlement colony influenced the life and music of Johnny Cash. Many of his songs are stories of actual experiences in Dyess, while others reflect values shaped in Dyess. Though the focus is on his early life, all Johnny Cash-related topics will be considered.

Additionally, presentations that provide insight into the New Deal heritage that shaped the life of Johnny Cash and those around him are welcome. Cash’s childhood spent in one of the New Deal’s greatest social and economic experiments placed him squarely in the center of New Deal cultural programs focused on common men and women.

Organizers particularly are interested in presentations that break away from the standard format of reading research papers. Research and artistic presentations that incorporate music, images, film, computer graphics, and other interactive elements will be given first preference. The scholarly content also should be presented in ways that appeal to more generalized audiences and non-specialists in particular disciplines.

A new chapter was announced in May with the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival. The new event that combines educational activities in Dyess, as well as entertainment and special events, continues the legacy of the earlier concert series held in Jonesboro.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program, noted the event would become a true festival by extending to a three-day event that includes both educational and entertainment components.

“The symposium’s location in Cash’s hometown of Dyess is a rare opportunity for participants to embrace the environment in which Cash grew up,” Hawkins said.

Presentation entries must include presenter’s name and affiliation and a 150-word abstract of the presentation as well as a current vita (two pages maximum). Include address, phone number, email address and the technical needs for the presentation.

Click here to download a copy of the Call for Presentations.  For further information, contact Hansen at ghansen@AState.edu or visit johnnycashheritagefestival.com. Deadline for entries is June 16, 2017.



Johnny Cash Heritage Festival to Begin

(From left) Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program; Joanne Cash Yates, Johnny Cash's sister; Tommy Cash, Johnny Cash's brother and Dyess mayor Ken Gilmore.

(From left) Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program; Joanne Cash Yates, Johnny Cash’s sister; Tommy Cash, Johnny Cash’s brother and Dyess mayor Ken Gilmore.

JONESBORO — After the immensely successful music events honoring international music icon Johnny Cash and benefitting restoration of his boyhood home, a new chapter begins in 2017 with the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival.

The new event that combines educational activities in Dyess, as well as entertainment and special events, continues the legacy of the earlier concert series held in Jonesboro.

“I am thrilled to join Arkansas State University in announcing the first Johnny Cash Heritage Festival,” said Rosanne Cash, who worked with the university in developing plans for the festival. “For the first time, we will hold a festival in Dyess, in the cotton fields surrounding my dad’s childhood home and in the town center of the colony. We foresee an annual festival that will include both world-renowned artists on the main stage and local musicians on smaller stages, as well as educational panels, exhibits and local crafts.”

The inaugural Johnny Cash Heritage Festival is set for Oct. 19-21, 2017, in Dyess. It will be extended beyond music to become a “heritage” festival, thus creating a great sense of both time and place associated with Johnny Cash’s early years.

“As anyone who has spent any time listening – truly listening – to Johnny Cash knows, his music was born of some of the most profound events of the 20th century,” said A-State Chancellor Tim Hudson. “A child of the Great Depression and an advocate for those without a voice in the 1960s, his legacy is point of entry for generations to come to understand America. By incorporating discussions of the societal and historical forces that shaped our nation into this celebration, we are broadening the understanding of Johnny Cash.”

Johnny Cash’s two living siblings, Joanne Cash Yates and Tommy Cash, were present for the announcement.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program, noted the event would become a true festival by extending from a one-evening concert event to a three-day event that includes both educational and entertainment components. She also stated that the Heritage Studies, Ph.D. program would coordinate the educational/academic events with overall coordination through Arkansas State University Heritage Sites.

“Assisting in carrying out the Master Plan for making the Dyess Colony and Johnny Cash Boyhood Home a major tourism destination will continue as one of the key goals of the festival,” Hawkins said. “The next phase will be to re-create the farmstead buildings at the Cash Boyhood Home and to provide other needed services and amenities for heritage tourists who come to visit the site.
“It is fitting to incorporate the New Deal heritage that was part of Johnny Cash’s formative years into a major annual event that shines light on a critical era that is fading from memory,” Hawkins continued. This three-day event will include entertainment events on Friday and Saturday, preceded by an educational conference on Thursday and Friday, she added.

For further announcements regarding the October 2017 festival, visit the festival Website or Facebook page.



Dyess Colony Visitors Center Opens



Dyess Colony Visitors Center Set for Grand Opening on May 21

Visitors CenterJONESBORO — Visitors will have an opportunity to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Dyess Colony Visitors Center at the site of the former theatre and pop shop, Saturday, May 21, in Colony Circle, 110 Center Drive. Transformation of the theatre and pop shop into the Visitors Center is phase two of the master plan for the Dyess Colony restoration.

Remarks are at 10:30 a.m. Hamburgers, hot dogs and soft drinks are available at the Colony Circle site from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m., tours of the administration building exhibits, the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and Visitors Center are available free of charge. Joanne Cash and Tommy Cash, siblings of legendary singer Johnny Cash, will be on hand for remarks. Tommy was once a projectionist at the theatre.

The special event coincides with the 80th anniversary of the grand opening of the original Colony Circle buildings. In August 2014, phase one, including restoration of the administration building and the Cash home, was opened to the public.

In order to preserve the heritage of the Dyess Colony, A-State personnel, led by Dr. Ruth Hawkins, executive director of Arkansas State University’s Arkansas Heritage Sites program, and assistant director Paula Miles, have worked diligently to obtain grants and private donations to restore key structures in the Dyess area. When restoration of theatre began, only the front façade was standing.

The original community building burned and a new theatre was built in 1947. Now completely reconstructed, it serves as a visitor/orientation center, featuring films, materials and other exhibits.

The colony was named Dyess Colony, as a federal agricultural resettlement community for Mississippi County native and for Arkansas’s first Works Progress Administration (WPA) manager, William Reynolds Dyess.

The Dyess Colony was created in 1934 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to aid in the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Depression. As a federal agricultural resettlement community, it provided a fresh start for nearly 500 impoverished Arkansas farm families, including the family of Johnny Cash.

The colony was laid out with a town center at the hub and farmsteads stretching out from the center. The first 13 families arrived in October 1934. On May 22, 1936, an official dedication was held on the second anniversary of the colony. The project was renamed Dyess Colony in honor of its founder, W.R. Dyess, who died in a plane crash earlier that year.

Several weeks after the official dedication, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Dyess and addressed the colonists from the front steps of the colony’s administration building.

For additional information, call (870) 764-CASH (2274).



Governor Hutchinson Commits $100,000 to Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson, Rosanne Cash, Dr. Dee Dee Hudson, Dr. Tim Hudson

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson, Rosanne Cash, Dr. Dee Dee Hudson, Dr. Tim Hudson

JONESBORO — “An Evening with Rosanne Cash” turned out to be a special night as Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a commitment of $100,000 from the general discretionary account toward Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites program and the continuing Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project at a fundraiser at the Governor’s Mansion.

“As we promote Arkansas tourism, we recognize that a significant part of the future of tourism in this state is our heritage sites, including the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess,” Gov. Hutchinson stated. “The support of the Cash family and the connection to Rosanne Cash to this state is significant, and I am delighted that the state can continue to support Arkansas State University in preserving these heritage sites for the next generation.”

Gov. Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson and Arkansas State University hosted the benefit event. There was a reception and photo opportunity, followed by “Memories, Music, and More,” including Cash’s reflections on her involvement with restoration of her father’s home and music inspired by her reconnections with the South. She began working with A-State in 2011 to acquire and restore the home and has remained actively involved in the project.

Rosanne, a four-time Grammy winner, performed a concert for a sold-out crowd of 200 invited guests. In addition to the discretionary fund donation, the event also netted just over $20,000.

“We appreciate the governor’s understanding of the value of Arkansas heritage and history. We have benefited from the work and support of many people along the way including other members of the Cash family,” A-State Chancellor Tim Hudson stated at the event.

“We are also very grateful for Rosanne Cash, not only for her willingness to share her remarkable talent, but also for her work on the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project. People with celebrity and name recognition lend their names to things; but, not only has she done that, she has been hands-on from the very start of the project, promoting it around the world, helping to connect the artists to help us raise funds we need to make the project successful, donating items and getting others to donate items.”

The funds will go toward additional Cash outbuildings, including moving and refurbishing existing colony structures and acquiring materials from original Dyess colony buildings for use in reconstruction. A barn will be built and adapted on the interior for use as classroom, office, conference and special event space. The estimated cost of these projects is around $500,000, and will come from privately raised funds or grants. Work will begin quickly on the smaller structures, but the timeline for the barn will depend upon additional private funding.

When her album, The River and the Thread was released in 2014, Rosanne Cash discussed the boyhood home restoration project’s influence on her music during appearances on nationally televised programs such as CBS Sunday Morning and the Katie Couric Show, and in interviews in The Guardian, the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine and numerous other media. She also has mentioned Arkansas State University during concert tours throughout the world.

“I hope everyone will go visit the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess. It’s an amazing place. People from all over the world come to that place to see this icon of American culture and how he lived and how he developed his talent to make him so loved and famous around the world,” said Chancellor Hudson.

The Dyess Colony was created in 1934 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to aid in the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Depression. As a federal agricultural resettlement community, it provided a fresh start for nearly 500 impoverished Arkansas farm families, including the family of music legend Johnny Cash.

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home opened in August 2014, along with exhibits in the Historic Dyess Colony Administration Building. The Arkansas State University Heritage Site is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.



An Evening with Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash Invite (003)
Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Rosanne Cash will be in Little Rock Thursday, March 3, for “An Evening with Rosanne Cash” at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

The benefit event will be hosted by Governor Asa Hutchinson, First Lady Susan Hutchinson, and Arkansas State University, with proceeds going to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception and photo opportunity, followed by “Memories, Music, and More,” including Cash’s reflections on her involvement with restoration of her father’s home and music inspired by her reconnections with the South. She began working with A-State in 2011 to acquire and restore the home and has remained actively involved in the project.

Tickets are $150 per person. Sponsorship opportunities also are available. Gold sponsorships are $2,500 and include eight event tickets, recognition at the event, and first section seating. Silver sponsorship at $1,000 and include four event tickets, recognition at the event, and second section seating.

Tickets or sponsorships may be obtained by calling 870-972-2803, e-mailing pmiles@astate.edu, or going to AState.edu/donations to pay securely online by credit card. (Please put “Cash Benefit” in the “Other” category). Checks may be made to Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and mailed to P. O. Box 2050, State University, AR 72467. Limited tickets are available and must be purchased no later than Feb. 22.

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home opened in August 2014, along with exhibits in the Historic Dyess Colony Administration Building. The Arkansas State University Heritage Site is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The next phase of the project will include re-creating the Cash farmstead buildings, including the barn (to be adapted inside for classroom and special events space), smokehouse, chicken coop, and outhouse.

When her album, “The River and the Thread” was released in 2014, Rosanne Cash discussed the boyhood home restoration project’s influence on her music during appearances on nationally televised programs such as CBS Sunday Morning and the Katie Couric Show, and in interviews in The Guardian, the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine and numerous other media. She also has mentioned Arkansas State University during concert tours throughout the world.



The Little White House

A great story on the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home by Ken Beck in the Wilson Post (Tennessee) paper.  Click here to read the full article.



CASH FAMILY, FANS AND FRIENDS CELEBRATE GRAND OPENING OF BOYHOOD HOME

Joanne Cash Yates (left) and Tommy Cash, sister and brother of music legend Johnny Cash, share a quiet moment while touring the restored Johnny Cash Boyhood Home during dedication ceremonies Saturday.

Joanne Cash Yates (left) and Tommy Cash, sister and brother of music legend Johnny Cash, share a quiet moment while touring the restored Johnny Cash Boyhood Home during dedication ceremonies Saturday.

DYESS, Ark. — Hundreds of fans and friends joined the Johnny Cash family for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration at the grand opening of the Cash boyhood home here Saturday. The ceremony crowned the restoration of the structure that was home to the Cash family from 1935 until 1953.

“If Dad walked into the house today, he would have been overcome,” said Rosanne Cash, one of Johnny’s four daughters, at the dedication ceremony.

The dedication came on the heels of the fourth annual Johnny Cash Music Festival at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center Friday evening. The sold-out concert featured Country Music Hall of Fame members Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire and Bobby Bare. Singer and comedian Mark Lowry served as the event emcee.

People lined up early Saturday morning at the Dyess Administration Building to board the shuttles for the short two-and-a-half mile drive to the home. A private viewing for the Cash family was first on the agenda, as members toured the five-room home newly furnished with retrieved family items and donations.

“When many people approach me about starting Johnny Cash projects, I usually say ‘no, Rosanne Cash explained. “But, in talking to Dr. Ruth Hawkins and Arkansas State University, I realized several things and one is that my children need to know their family legacy. It’s so beautiful.”

“From when I saw the house in 2011 and to see the progress today is overwhelming,” continued Rosanne. “Ruth and the family aimed for authenticity when it came to furnishings. When you add the pieces in the house, it gives it resonance. The whole project caused a real shift in my life.”

Following additional remarks by Dyess Mayor Larry Sims, President of the Arkansas State System Dr. Chuck Welch, a letter from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, Johnny Cash’s sister Joanne Cash Yates, brother Tommy Cash and others, Cash family members surrounded Joanne as she clipped the leaf garland ribbon to declare the home as officially opened. Family members then delighted the crowd by singing “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” inviting them to join in.

Following the festivities, buses were loaded with fans to take the hourly tours of the home until late afternoon.

Hawkins, the executive director of Arkansas State’s Heritage Sites program, began work on the boyhood home project in 2009 and visualized turning the land with a dilapidated, run-down structure back into to the simple glory that was the home where one of the most talented and celebrated superstars spent his childhood and teen years. She spearheaded the development from the beginning, including the purchase of the home by Arkansas State to the final furnishing.

The Dyess Colony was created in 1934 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to aid in the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Depression. As a federal agricultural resettlement community, it provided a fresh start for nearly 500 impoverished Arkansas farm families, including the family of Johnny Cash.

After Rosanne expressed the family’s “tremendous gratitude,” Joanne added, “Thank you for being a part of our family—all of you.”

Tommy closed by saying, “Thank you. This is one of the greatest projects I’ve ever worked on. Growing up here, I was a happy child.”

The Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is closed Sundays, Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $10 and includes the Dyess Colony Museum and the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.

For the original A-State News Article, click here.



JOHNNY CASH’S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER ANNOUNCES PUBLICATION OF “RECOLLECTIONS” BY FATHER

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJONESBORO – On the eve of the grand opening of her father’s boyhood home, Tara Cash Schwoebel, the youngest daughter of Johnny Cash, announced the publication of “Recollections by J.R. Cash: Childhood Memories of Johnny Cash.” Recollections group The announcement was made Thursday afternoon in Cooper Alumni Center on the Arkansas State University campus. Schwoebel, the youngest of Cash’s four daughters, was on hand to discuss the book written in her father’s own handwriting about growing up in Dyess.

“I found a book in 1995 called ‘Dad, Share Your Life with Me,’” said Schwoebel. “I gave him a copy which included questions about his childhood, his love of music and life in Dyess. The following year, he returned it to me on my birthday with all of the question cards filled out with his answers.

“I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Ruth Hawkins and I called her and told her about having this diary of memories from my dad about growing up in Arkansas and asked her if she knew of a publisher who might be interested. She told me she wanted Arkansas State University to publish it.”

Hawkins, executive director of Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State, is the force behind the restoration endeavor for the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the Historic Dyess Colony Project.

Copies of the book will be for sale on the Second Floor of the Dyess Administration Building during the grand opening of the project on Saturday. Books can be purchased between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and Schwoebel will be signing books from 12:30 to 2 p.m. “Recollections by J.R. Cash: Childhood Memories of Johnny Cash,” sells for $19.95.

“The home he grew up in meant so much to my dad,” continued Schwoebel. “His memories and recall were incredible.”

She noted, “He has so many fishing stories and many others. The memories paint pictures of daily life in Dyess, and when you are in the house, you feel it.This book is rich with stories and fun things,” concluded Schwoebel.”I think everyone will enjoy it.”

In the book’s introduction, Schwoebel says, “Having seen the now-restored home where he grew up in Dyess and knowing the breadth of the hard work, the tragedies endured, the depth of instinct for survival, and the love his family shared, I feel it is time to share this priceless journal.”

“It’s a fabulous book,” said Hawkins. “No one could do this kind of book except his daughter because his answers are meant for her.”

After the grand opening on Saturday, the book will be available at the Historic Dyess Colony Museum during regular operating hours, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Additionally, it will be sold at other Arkansas State University heritage sites. the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, and online at www.recollectionsbyjrcash.com.

The original A-State News Article can be found here.



Two Positions Open for Dyess-Cash Project

Arkansas State University is seeking two positions for the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash. Positions are available immediately, and successful applicants will be expected to reside in the Dyess area. Normal hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with occasional evening and other weekend hours for special events and activities. Applications must be submitted online at jobs.astate.edu. Deadline is July 21, 2014.

Assistant Director (Non-Classified Position)

This position reports to the Director of Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University. The Assistant Director is responsible for the daily operations of the site; coordinating the work of museum staff, students and volunteers; developing and maintaining records; managing the physical facilities; conducting research; developing educational programming; and assisting in developing and implementing policies and procedures. Minimum requirements include a master’s degree in public administration, museum studies, heritage studies, history, management, or a related field, plus related experience in a supervisory or leadership capacity.

Facilities Manager (Classified Position)

This position reports to the Assistant Director and is responsible for facilities-related activities, including tours through buildings, safety and security, maintenance and custodial oversight, set-up for special programs and activities, preparing special reports, and developing and recommending policies and procedures as directed by supervisor. Minimum requirements include a high school diploma; plus experience in a related field.

A-State, a federal contractor, is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected Veteran status.

A-State has a strong institutional commitment to the achievement of excellence and diversity among its faculty, staff, and students. A-State also is committed to creating a productive workplace in which both persons and property are secure. To achieve that goal, background investigations are conducted on all final applicants recommended for employment.