top of page

Iowa History Daily: August 21 - Cash at the Fair

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Iowa History Daily: On August 21, 1970, Johnny Cash and June Carter took the Grandstand Stage at the Iowa State Fair for two shows. Over 23,500 Iowans packed in as the ‘Man in Black’ and his bride sent the rollicking crowd down in a ‘ring of fire.’

Cash and Carter packed in audiences for shows starting at 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. for viewers paying between $3 to $5 for reserved seats. Their show featured cameos by Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three, as well as the Statler Brothers. Before the show Cash and Carter dined at Stockman’s Inn run by Lyle Krebs on the fairgrounds.

Cash arrived in Des Moines newly sober, notably in the first year of a seven year stint of sobriety which lasted from 1970 to 1977. Performing in an entirely black suit with a knee-length black coat, Cash said he wore all black on behalf of the poor and hungry, the "prisoner who has long paid for his crime", and those who have been betrayed by age or drugs.

The 1970 Fair featured a variety of other Grandstand entertainment. Lawrence Welk, Red Skelton, Dolly Parton, and other entertainers paired with rodeo and demolition derby nights to keep fairgoers entertained. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page