JONESBORO, AR (News release) - When Tara Cash Schwoebel returns in August for the grand opening of the boyhood home of her father, Johnny Cash, she will bring personal feelings she has from her visit with her dad years ago.
Schwoebel, Cash’s youngest daughter, mentioned when she was in Dyess in April for the VIP Inspection tour of the boyhood home and the Dyess Colony Project, “It was the first time I’ve been back since I stopped there with Dad years ago. He brought us on his bus.
“This is a place that was close to his heart. He talked a lot about growing up here. He would be so happy to see what’s been done and he would be so moved and touched. He was a historian and he would be proud of the way everything has been presented. I’m so touched. The beauty and simplicity of the house in the chaos of today’s world is refreshing.”
The grand opening of the project is Aug. 16, the day after the fourth annual Johnny Cash Music Festival concert. The Aug. 15 concert is in Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center at 7 p.m. As in years past, proceeds from this year’s event will help fund the restoration project, as well as support a scholarship fund established in the international superstar’s name.
Reba McEntire, Bobby Bare and Loretta Lynn will perform at this year’s festival, according to concert producer and festival founder Bill Carter. Legendary singer and comedian Mark Lowry will host the event.
Tickets for the Johnny Cash Music Festival are available at Arkansas State’s Central Box Office and online at Tickets.Astate.edu. Tickets can also be purchased by logging onto the official website of the Johnny Cash Music Festival, johnnycashmusicfest.com. Call to purchase tickets at (870) 972-2781 or toll-free at 1-888-278-3267.
The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home was part of a community established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s as a Depression-era agricultural resettlement colony. Part of the New Deal program, it provided an opportunity for destitute farmers, who were advanced 20 or 40 acres of farmland, a mule, a small home and money to buy food and plant crops—with the understanding that if they were successful they'd pay back the government.
Led by W. R. Dyess, Arkansas director of the Works Progress Administration, the federal government acquired approximately 16,000 acres and developed a Town Center and farmsteads for 500 colonist families recruited from the welfare rolls. Known initially as “Colonization Project No.1” it was renamed for Dyess in 1936 after his death in a plane crash.
In 2009, the Arkansas Legislature directed Arkansas State University to explore the feasibility of developing Dyess as a heritage tourism destination in an effort to revitalize the community. Toward this end, John Milner Associates of West Chester, Pa., completed a Dyess Redevelopment Master Plan in 2010.
Arkansas State acquired the boyhood home in 2011 that was appraised at $100,000, largely due to its historical significance. Its restoration and furnishing were done as it appeared between 1935 and 1954 when the Cash family lived there.
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