Cash family returns 'home' before music festival

Posted by Jessi Turnure

DYESS, AR (KAIT) - The Johnny Cash Music Festival kicks off Saturday night. But members of the Cash family traveled back to their roots a day early to explore a piece of history.

"It was wonderful. I was a happy child. You know, we had a cotton farm. Daddy was a hard worker, he was a farmer, and my mother was a hardworking person, taking care of seven children. I'm the baby of seven," Tommy Cash said. "We had a lot of fun together and mom and daddy were a loving Christian family. We really miss them."

Cash and his family toured the latest on the restoration of the historic Dyess Colony Center.

"Where everybody came to get their mail, the mail packages, you know, mail Christmas cards and birthday cards. Now, it's being restored and it's just unbelievable how beautiful it's going to be," Cash said.

"It'll basically talk about the cash family as typical colonists and it'll have large poster-sized exhibits around the room. And then it'll have genealogy stuff and family stuff around the wall," Dr. Ruth Watkins, the ASU director of Delta Heritage Initiatives, said.

Watkins said the renovation will not only honor the Cash family, but also other colonial families who lived in Dyess during the time of the New Deal. 

"This is surreal to me. It almost doesn't seem like it's happening, but it is. And, you know, I never thought I'd be coming back to Dyess, Arkansas for much of anything. Except to visit with friends and relatives," Cash said. 

Cash said he hopes everyone in the community knows how thankful he and his family is for the constant support. 

"We just hope that everybody that's a part of this will accept our appreciation for what's being done for us and especially for my brother. I think he would have felt very honored about what's going on here," Cash said. "I think the community is really behind this and we're proud of that."

Watkins said they hope to finish the restoration project by March 2014. 

"I can't wait to see all of it," Cash said. 

The Johnny Cash Music Festival kicks off Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Convocation Center. The money raised will go toward the restoration projects in Dyess.

Cash said some money will also go to several scholarships in Johnny's name, which he said he will talk more about at the festival.

Cash said he will open the event with his rendition of "Ring of Fire" and also sing a duet with his sister, Joanne Cash Yates.

The duo will also close out the show, performing with all of the headliners, Vince Gill, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, and Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers.

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