The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame

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Tommie Ritter Smith of Carthage is kin to legendary country musician Tex Ritter. “Tex and my dad were first cousins,” says Tommie. “Their dads were brothers.” Tommie has been the chamber exec in Carthage since 1982. Her office is in a historic old antebellum home. In the early 1990s Tommie got the idea to start the Tex Ritter Museum upstairs in the chamber building. She gathered a lot of Tex’s memorabilia and put it on display. Tex was born in Panola County. So was Jim Reeves, another giant in country music. “We think we’re the only county that can lay claim to being the birthplace of two country music hall of famers and international country music stars.” So some Jim Reeves memorabilia was added to the Tex Ritter items.

“In 1997 we started the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame to recognize the importance of country music in the state,” says Tommie. “We began inducting two Texas country musicians every year. We made a list of 300 when we started and that list keeps growing.”

Every year the induction ceremony turns into a concert featuring big names in country music. The crowds have reached more than 2,000 and the inductions are now held in Carthage High School’s new 15 million dollar performing arts center. This year’s honorees were Leon Rausch and the original Chuck Wagon Gang.

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