Tommie Ritter Smith presents a plaque to 2018 Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee Leon Rausch.

The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame Show cancelled its upcoming John Ritter Showcase Auditions and Hall of Fame Show earlier this week, meaning the county’s biggest event of the year won’t be taking place.

President Tommie Ritter Smith said the decision was informed by the spike in the number of coronavirus cases and the governor’s current mandate, as well as the safety of their ticket holders, staff and entertainers.

“Also the uncertainty of what’s going to happen by Aug. 8,” Smith said. “So those were the factors that went into the decision making process, and we felt like we waited as long as we could, and the fact that our contestants didn’t feel comfortable coming, our entertainers didn’t feel comfortable coming.... We felt like we couldn’t give the same quality show that we have done for the past 22 years, and we didn’t want to disappoint our people. We’re going to plan for something really big next year.”

Having to cancel the auditions and show is disappointing for Smith, the longtime leader at the Hall of Fame and the Panola County Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve put our whole life into this for 22 years... I am sad,” she said. “It’s my life this time of year, and it’s going to be extremely sad on that date... I’m also worried that it’s going to be hard to get it back on track, to get it back like it was, but we’re going to do the best we can to make that happen.”