Festival For Late Country Star To Include Pardon For Old Arrest

This appeared on AL.com - October 28, 2007

One thing bluegrass-country singer Marty Stuart will not be doing following his performance Saturday in Starkville is pick flowers.

Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, will be in town for the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival Friday through Sunday. A ceremonial pardon will be presented to the family of the "Man in Black" on Saturday.

In some versions of the famous story, Cash was arrested in Starkville more than 40 years ago for picking flowers in someone's yard.

"I can tell you one thing. I won't be pulling no flowers," Stuart said with a laugh in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from his office in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Stuart, a native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, was a longtime friend of Cash and performed with the singer.

"Elvis fans have Tupelo and Graceland and now we will give Johnny Cash fans Starkville because there is no specific place that you think of for Johnny Cash fans to come together and pay tribute," said Robbie Ward, executive director of the festival.

The festival honoring Cash kicks off Friday with events on the campus of Mississippi State University. University of Georgia history professor John Hayes opens the conference with a lecture on religion and the South through the prism of Johnny Cash. After that a community-wide social is planned with a charity auction at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, Ward said.

At the university's amphitheater, there will be a showing of the Cash-biopic "Walk the Line."

On Saturday, Stuart will perform outdoors in downtown Starkville. That night officials will issue a symbolic posthumous pardon to members of Cash's family, including daughter Kathy Cash Tittle. Tittle, of Hendersonville, Tenn., is the daughter of Cash and his first wife, Vivian.

"He'd probably walk onto the stage and say 'well it's about time,' " said Cash's sister, Joanne Cash.

By Kathy Hanrahan

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