"All the gold may be in California, but the Cash is in Jonesboro tonight," said a devoted fan during the first annual Johnny Cash Music Festival held at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center on Thursday, Aug. 4.
"The history making event came about through a serendipitous conversation with ASU alumnus Bill Carter, a television producer in Nashville, during last year's Homecoming festivities," Dr. Ruth Hawkins said. "When Bill learned his alma mater was attempting to acquire and restore the Johnny Cash boyhood home in Dyess, he immediately agreed to produce a benefit concert, providing it met with the approval of the Cash family."
Plans were made and the line-up of artists was secured. The artists donated their time, and numerous sponsors contributed to travel expenses and production costs, which allowed 100 percent of the ticket sales to go to the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project.
"Traffic was nonstop through town last Thursday, as people who had come in for the concert made their way to Dyess to see the Johnny Cash home for themselves," Dyess Mayor Larry Sims said. "They came from all over the United States, in cars, trucks, vans, and buses. I could hardly believe the volume of traffic through here. This just goes to show me that there is still a lot of interest in Johnny Cash and his hometown of Dyess."
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism estimated a total of $2.4 million would be pumped into the local economy through tourist dollars during the first year of completion of the project, and estimated another $7.19 million by the fifth year.