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Carthage expands museum showcasing Texas country music legends


Carthage, Texas, plans to nearly double the size of its Texas Country Music Hall of Fame that opened in 1998. Groundbreaking for the $1.1 million expansion is set for Wednesday. 

Tommie Ritter Smith runs the museum and is president of Carthage's chamber of commerce. She says it’s been a challenge to display memorabilia from all 50 current inductees.

“We just ran out of room! We’ve got to expand to continue honoring Texas country music legends. So, the city is adding on 3,000 square feet to our already existing about 4,000 square feet of display space," Ritter Smith said.

The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame has been a hit for Carthage tourism, according to Ritter Smith. It attracts about 7,000 visitors a year along with many bus tours. The city plans to pay for the construction through an economic development sales tax. Ritter Smith says the expansion will allow her to better serve the large bus tours.

“I’m going to be able to have traveling exhibits. I am going to be able to have a theater where I can entertain the bus tours. We’ve identified over 300 people that are eligible to be put in the museum," Ritter Smith said.

The groundbreaking ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday with 2009 inductee Neal McCoy – a native of Jacksonville -- turning the dirt. In August, the 51st inductee will be Oak Ridge Boys lead singer Duane Allen. The induction weekend will include a concert by the Oak Ridge Boys on Aug. 9.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.