After music festival, what's next for Dyess?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Johnny Cash Music Festival, held last Thursday in Jonesboro, was a big success both musically and financially!

Once all the bills are paid, how much will be left to put into the town of Dyess and restoring the Cash home and other buildings? Now that the funds are available, is a time frame set on when the restoration begins?

"We're really thrilled that there's a lot more of the original material there than we really realized. Thank goodness that was all preserved." said Dr. Ruth Hawkins the Director of the Heritage Studies Program at ASU. This department now owns the boyhood home of Johnny Cash.

The Johnny Cash Music Festival brought in thousands of visitors to Region 8. And those thousands of people brought thousands of dollars. Financially, was it a success?

Hawkins, "We have cleared about 300 Thousand dollars in ticket sales which will be applied to the project."

The primary focus now is to get Johnny Cash's boyhood home restored to Depression era standards. The house needs some structural repair, any missing parts will be supplied from a donated colony house. Hawkins said the gumbo soil that the Cash house sits on has made the foundation unstable that will have to be remedied first.

Hawkins, "The fun part will be finding the furnishings and the things that were in the house originally." Later on if funding becomes available, replica outbuildings will be added on to the home site.

Johnny Cash's sister Joanne who was born in the house has volunteered to help with household acquisitions.

The outside of the headquarters building in the center of Dyess has been cosmetically restored with paint, and new windows.

Hawkins, "We're also working on the restoration of the Administration building and we do have a grant that will start on the interior." Currently the floors have some serious underpinning and termite issues which prevents large groups of people from being in the building. Many added walls have been removed putting the building back to it's original design.

Not a lot remains of the old theater but plans are in the work for an education building behind the theater.

Hawkins, "We will save the facade but we will rebuild that theater. We envision that will ultimately become a visitors center for the museum site."

Hawkins says she thinks the initial phases of the Cash house restoration and the Administration building repairs should open the buildings to the public in the summer of 2013.

This years festival was a great success ; Now what about next year?

Hawkins, "I think the key will be trying to figure out what to do next time to make it different and still exciting."

Johnny Cash fans, make your reservations now.

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