Keith and Jill Forrester of Whitton Farms — farmers, restaurateurs, and new parents — certainly have their hands full. But that hasn't stopped them from hosting a fund-raiser for the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project.
"I guess Jill and I were just looking for something to do," Keith says with a laugh. "We don't have enough stuff going on."
On September 9th, the two will welcome guests to their farm, down the road from Dyess, Arkansas, where Johnny Cash grew up, for "A Fine Country Dinner." Working in partnership with Arkansas State University, the event will benefit the revitalization of Cash's boyhood home and feature live music, a silent auction, and, of course, plenty of homegrown food.
"We're going to do a hog roast," Keith says. "We've got three 100-pound hogs that we're going to roast out back over an open flame. We're going to make purple hull peas, collard greens — traditional September food of the era [when Cash was a child]. But we're going to dress it up a little, put the bells and whistles on it. It won't be exactly like it was in the 1940s. There's not going to be the desperation."
Nor will Keith and Jill be the only cooks in the kitchen. Celebrated local chefs Felicia Willett, Kelly English, and Miles McMath will each prepare a dish. Justin Fox Burks, of the Chubby Vegetarian blog and a Flyer photographer, will be whipping up some herbivore-friendly fare. And since it's a country dinner, don't expect aperitifs and wine pairings. Instead, Keith says you can choose between good, old-fashioned beer and good, old-fashioned water.
The Forresters are expecting 300 people at the farm: 100 volunteers and 200 event-goers. Tickets are $150 a person and are available at johnnycashmusicfest.com or via the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites office at 870-972-2893.
The dinner bell will ring at 4 p.m., but guests are invited to the farm around noon for hayrides and a chance to take in the country air before the feast begins.
Whitton Farms, 5157 West State Hwy. 118, Tyronza, AR • whittonfarms.com
If you prefer your fund-raisers bubbly and hoppy and served in a pint glass, Boscos is brewing a special beer for its Boscos Cycling team, which races to benefit multiple sclerosis research.
Derailleur Ale, named after a type of bicycle gear, is available at Boscos Squared starting this week, and the official launch party is Saturday, September 1st, from 4 to 8 p.m. There, you can listen to a live performance by Two Mule Plow while you toss back a pint or two. After the launch party and for as long as supplies last, one dollar out of every Derailleur Ale purchase will go toward the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
According to Boscos brewmaster Chuck Skypeck, the brew is an amber-hued pale ale akin to Bluff City Amber, one of Boscos' original three brews. Derailleur Ale is made with clusters of hops and has a mild hoppiness, putting it on par with the bitterness of Boscos' Ice Age Pale Ale.
The idea for a Boscos cycling team began when Kerry Hayes, formerly of Mayor Wharton's office, met a group of Memphis cyclists at the Bike to Jack and Back race from Franklin to Lynchburg last October. Hayes was riding for his wife Sutton, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. The group decided to form a team to combine some of their favorite activities: drinking beer, riding bicycles, and raising money for a good cause.
"Bicyclists approach us the most for sponsorships," Skypeck says. "Must be the carbo-loading."
Boscos paid for the team's kit (riding jerseys and other gear) and their registration fees for three multiple sclerosis rides on the condition that each of the 12 team members raise $1,000 for multiple sclerosis research. At $20,000 and counting, the fund-raising pool has already well surpassed that goal.
On September 8th, the team travels to Tunica for the FedEx Rock-N-Roll Bike MS Ride, then to Little Rock on September 29th for Rock'n Hot Ride, and finally back to Franklin for the Bike to Jack and Back on October 6th. In conjunction, Boscos will sell Derailleur Ale in its Memphis, Little Rock, Franklin, and Nashville locations.
Not a beer drinker? You can still make donations or buy a Derailleur Ale T-shirt at Boscos Squared.
"I've been stunned in the happiest way at how supportive Boscos has been, Victory Bicycle Studio, and the people who have joined us on this," Hayes says. "People have responded in the most generous way. It's unbelievable."
Boscos Squared, 2120 Madison (432-2222) • boscosbeer.com