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Johnny Cash Heritage Festival Gets Off To Fast Start


DYESS, Ark. — Visitors from as far away as New York, Minnesota and Iowa joined area fans to listen to presentations about arts and artistry from the New Deal and Beyond during the first day of the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival Thursday at the Dyess Colony Visitors Center.

Experts in the areas of politics, folklore, music and the New Deal era of the 1930s spoke during four presentations in the afternoon. The topics included “It’s All About Politics,” “Chronicling Life and Lore Across America,” “Coming Home Through Music’s Cyclic Highway” and “Cinematic Ode to the Mississippi: The River.”

In addition, former Dyess colonists and others who have memories of the Great Depression and the New Deal shared their stories as well as photos and documents for a videotaped “Memories of a Lifetime” project. The project deepens the level of understanding of the historic site and the New Deal era. Videotaping continues Friday, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on the second floor of the Dyess Administration Building.

Local entertainers were in a free concert Thursday evening from 5-9 p.m. in the Colony Circle as part of the KASU Music Nights. Acts included Rockin’ Luke Stroud; The Vikki McGee Three; Apple, Setser and Rounds with Tim Crouch and Irl Hees; and Drive South.

Day two of the festival gets underway at 9 a.m. Friday with a full complement of presentations, beginning with “Arkansas in Me: Keeping It Delta” with storyteller and songwriter Joe Chipman of Manila. The final presentation is at 4 p.m., “Becoming Johnny Cash,” with Colin Woodward, author of Country Boy: The Roots of Johnny Cash.

KASU Music Nights continues at 5 p.m. with five acts, including Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin; The Creek Rocks; The Zyndall Wayne Raney Band; The Legendary Pacers; and Queen Ann Hines and the Memphis Blues Masters.

The festival concludes Saturday with presentations at 9 a.m. with Bill McDowell and Michael Streissguth. Arkansas State University Chancellor Kelly Damphousse will serve as the moderator and introductions will be made by Johnny Cash’s daughter Rosanne Cash.

The “cotton field concert” begins at 12:15 p.m. with artists Buddy Jewell, Joanne Cash and Tommy Cash, and ends with Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

For a complete schedule, go to JohnnyCashHeritageFestival.com.

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Dr. Michael Dougan, emeritus professor of history, Arkansas State University, makes a presentation during the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival today.