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Kingsland Hoping To Cash In On Music Legend's Ties

The Cleveland County town of Kingsland is pinning its hopes of parlaying the birth of Johnny Cash there 83 years ago into tourism gold on an upcoming festival and carnival.

A committee known as Kickstart Kingsland, an off-shoot of Kickstart Cleveland County,  will next meet Friday, Aug. 11, to plan the event, tentatively scheduled for September 16th.

"They're trying to work up a little fundraising festival," Kingsland Mayor Charles Crain said, "have live music, get some local groups, and (have) some vendors in."

The group faces a formidable financial challenge to renovate the old post office.

That building was donated to the city a year ago by the Missionary Baptist Church, and it's where the committee would like to house a Cash-themed museum, since the home where he lived until age three has long been razed. 

Currently, the town has a commemorative marker and a highway sign spotlighting Cash's birth there, but little else.

Still, Crain said music fans come occasionally from all over the world and inquire about historical locations from the singer's early childhood.

Cash moved with his family in 1935 to the Dyess colony in Mississippi County. The house in Dyess where he lived has been restored with the help of Arkansas State University and now welcomes visitors for tours.

Kickstart Kingsland hopes to create a similar attraction in Cleveland County.

"Y' know, he's an icon, that's for sure," Crain said.

David Wallace was a reporter and anchor for UA Little Rock Public Radio from 1991 to March 2021.
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