Texas Country Music Hall of Fame
The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, formerly the Tex Ritter Museum, located in Carthage in Panola County in East Texas, honors those who have made outstanding contributions to country music and were born in the state of Texas. This includes singers, songwriters, disc jockeys, and others.
A museum, a large multi-purpose room, and a gift shop comprise the major areas of interest within the facility. The multi-purpose room can be configured to serve as a lecture hall or a dining room. It is covered with impressive photographs from local and regional history. The museum contains information panels that cover each inductee's career and accomplishments through text, photographs, and various artifacts.
In the center of the exhibit area, a replica of a 1930s theater marquee reminds visitors of the role of country music in film. A juke box nearby allows visitors to select the country songs that they wish to hear played while touring the museum.
The marquee serves as the entrance to the Tex Ritter Museum. A native of Panola County, Ritter was one of the first singers inducted into the hall of fame when it was established in 1998. There is also a museum exhibit on Ritter's son, John Ritter.
Mickey Gilley, a native of Ferriday, Louisiana, and Moe Bandy, originally from Meridian, Mississippi, are the only inductees (both in 2011) who were not born in Texas though they have subsequently had a long associated with the state, Gilley with Houston and Bandy with San Antonio. Oddly, Kenny Rogers, a Houston native who became one of the most successful performers in country music history in a career spanning nearly sixty years, has not yet been inducted into either the Texas or the national Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
Plans are underway to double the size of the hall of fame in the area immediately to the rear of the building.
The museum is located at 301 West Panola near the intersection of U.S. Highways 59 and 79. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Every Saturday evening, a Country Music Hayride is offered at the Esquire Theatre in downtown Carthage.