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Oct. 19 Eagleton country shows revive Farris Opry memory

By Linda Emley

On Friday, Oct. 19, Nashville is coming to Richmond and we’re planning on having a good-old time with Clarence Hayden and the Royal Country Band.
Shirley Wheller, who is well-known around town, will also be performing. There will be two shows at the Eagleton Center, one at 3:30 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
You can buy tickets at the Ray County Museum or at the Eagleton Center. This event is sponsored by the Ray County Historical Society and it’s near and dear to my heart since it’s a fundraiser to save the little red smoke house that sits behind our museum. We believe this building is part of the original “Poor Farm” that was built by Ray County in 1910. Many of the old buildings around Ray County have vanished in the past few years, and it would be a shame to let this little piece of history disappear, too.
All proceeds from the concession sales will be donated to the Historical Society, so please come early and enjoy some of our home-cooked hamburgers and hot dogs.
While working on this music festival, I started thinking about the old days. This isn’t the first time we’ve had the sound of Nashville music in town, because once upon a time we had the Farris Opry. I decided to get out the old newspapers and see if I could find any stories about the Farris Opry.
I had to search through several years, but I finally hit pay dirt in the 1967 Richmond News. Every Saturday night, the Farris Theater was filled with the sounds of country music with some bluegrass and gospel songs mixed in.
This picture was in the Aug. 2, 1967, Richmond News. The caption reads, “Third Anniversary: The Farris Opry gang will celebrate its third anniversary at Richmond this weekend with two big shows. The first will be at the regular time, Saturday night, Aug. 5 at 8. The second show will be held Sunday afternoon, Aug. 6 at 2:30 p.m.  Byron Jones, pictured above with Opry’s staff back up band, will bring to the stage of the Farris Theater most all of the country music entertainers who have appeared on the show at any time during the past three years. The theater is air-conditioned and has all the facilities to make your country music show enjoyable.”
The July 5, 1967 Richmond News, had an ad that gave some additional details. “Farris Opry in Air Conditioned Comfort. Absolutely Free to everyone this week, eight-page Souvenir program with over 60 pictures of Farris Opry stars. Special attraction, direct from “Grand Ole Opry Show”, Miss Paulette Gibson. (You’ll love her). Star of radio, stage and TV, Pretty Joanie Moore. Good for 100 laughs, Mae Weavil. The Tallman, Dave Allen. New record soon, Loretta Kay. Vocalist Nancy Logan, Vacationing Country Singer – Mr. Leland Jones, Pedal Steel Guitar – Dick Logan, Byron Jones and the “Country Guitars, Rhoder Sharp, Charley Burns and Jim Simmons. Talent contest auditions at 6:30 Saturday, Special Door Prizes, Cash Sweepstakes, Opry warm up – 7:45 p.m., Main show at 8:30 pm. Adults $1.25, Children 50 cents.”
French novelist, Alphonse Karr once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
I think this story is a good example that if we stick around town long enough, we just might see something that reminds us of the good-old days.
Have a story idea, memory or old photo for Linda? You can contact her at rayc...@aol.com.

Richmond had a popular opry years ago, and Ray County Museum hopes to revive its memory with shows at the Eagleton Center on Oct. 19. (Contributed photo)

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