Stephen F. Austin State University

Texas Country Music Hall of Fame (November 2011)

Texas Country Music Hall of Fame
By Vina Lee

The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and The Tex Ritter Museum gets your attention as you meander past the old historical home where the Carthage Chamber of Commerce is housed on Panola Street. Bob Harness sculpted the Tex Ritter bronze statue of his horse, Flash looking over Ritter's shoulder as he sits on a boulder playing his guitar. You will want to stop and spend some time in the gift shop and museum where there is a running video of the original "old singing cowboy" movies and a replica of a 1930 local hangout where you can step back in time at the Country Café and listen to the Hall of Fame inductee's music on an old fashioned jukebox.

The first members of the Hall of Fame were Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, both born in Carthage, Willie Nelson, Gene Autry, Cindy Walker and Joe Allison. This year's inductees are Mickey Gilley and Moe Bandy.

While in town you will want to sashay through a collection of quaint shops off the square, the Heritage Museum in the old bank where you can get a terrific homemade sandwich at noon and the Panola County Historical Museum in the old county jail.

East on U.S. 79 is the Jim Reeves Memorial tribute to country singer, Gentleman Jim and his home place.

On Saturday nights, The Country Music Hayride has a pickin' and singin' party at the old Esquire building near the town square. Panola College offers a diversity of classes, activities and community events and if you like ghost towns, Panola County has one of those too.