The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is gearing up for its annual Hall of Fame Induction and Show, with a bevy of live music and events planned all this coming weekend. This year’s ceremony honors Jeannie C. Riley, Claude Gray and Rodney Crowell.

Musical guests who’ll be on stage throughout the weekend include the Gaitlin Brothers, Linda Davis, Scott Hampton, Holly Tucker, Melissa Evans, Billie Jo, Gena Roberts, Dusty Boots, Southern Impact, Dallas Wayne and Tony Booth and Amber Digby.

Live Music Planned

Starting Thursday, Aug. 8, local bands Dusty Boots and Southern Impact will give a concert at the newly renovated Esquire Theater, 114 W. Sabine St. in downtown Carthage, to kick off the festivities. Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for kids 6-12 and free for kids under 6 at the door.

Friday, there will be free tours at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, 300 W. Panola St. in Carthage, all day, with the annual meeting at 3 p.m. Tommie Ritter Smith, president of the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, said that the meeting welcomes guests.

“Everybody is welcome to come by,” Smith said. “I give a report of the activities in the museum for the year, and then we talk about inductees for next year, and it’s just kind of a time for us to get together with the friends that are in town and meet them and that kind of thing and satisfy our charter.”

Friday night will host the John Ritter Tribute Showcase at the Carthage Civic Center, 1702 S. Adams St. in Carthage, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Smith said they have 24 contestants in the showcase vying for the title of ambassador to the Texas County Music Hall of Fame for next year. Linda Davis will be the emcee, and guests Holly Tucker, Billie Jo and Scott Hampton will perform as well.

“We’re excited about that, and the audience will get the opportunity to choose their fan favorite, and so that happens on Friday night, and then on Saturday morning there will be all kinds of things going on in the museum,” Smith said. “Of course new museum tours, you’ll get the opportunity to see the new displays for the new inductees and some stuff that we’ve added this year.”

Saturday morning at 8 a.m., Dusty Boots will play at the Hall of Fame with free admission and at 9 a.m. KGAS Radio sponsors the Country Music Showdown with a $500 prize to the winner. There will be free museum tours until 4 p.m., and Southern Impact will perform at the Esquire Theater at 2 p.m.

On Sunday morning, the Hall of Fame weekend will close out with Gospel at the Hall at 9 a.m. at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. Gena Roberts will host, with special guests Claude Gray and Scott Hampton alongside other surprise guests.

Hall of Fame Show

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Show on Saturday night will honor Jeannie C Riley, Claude Gray and Rodney Crowell. Dallas Wayne will emcee, the Gatlin Brothers will be the headlining performance and special guests Tony Booth and Amber Digby will also perform. It will take place at 6 p.m. at the Carthage Civic Center, and tickets are $60 both in advance at the Chamber of Commerce and at the door.

Smith said ticket sales are going great.

“We’ve sold all of the floor tickets, and now we’re selling the tickets in the upper levels,” she said.

When Claude Gray, singer of the hit “Family Bible” visited the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in March, he said he was very honored and pleased one of this year’s inductees.

“Been a long time coming, and there’s not a lot of — there’s a lot of ‘em that don’t make it,” he said. “So I’m privileged in a lot of ways. I don’t know, I don’t have enough talent to be in there, but I fooled a lot of people.”

Smith called Jeannie C. Riley “a delightful lady.”

“Jeannie C. Riley had the big huge hit ‘Harper Valley PTA’ and everybody, even if you’re not a country singer, you know ‘Harper Valley PTA’ and she is a delightful lady, and she’s had a lot of hit songs as well,” Smith said.

Smith said Rodney Crowell has been instrumental in making country music famous for many years.

“The thought of having a place in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame is a great honor,” Crowell said. “And quite honestly, the news came as a total surprise. I’m feeling good right about now.”

Smith says the Hall of Fame is already looking towards the future.

“We have a list of people that we have already talked about and already confirmed that they have enough support to be in the Hall of Fame, and we’re just trying to get to them all,” Smith said. “I mean there’s still hundreds of them.”