The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will unveil their latest spotlight exhibit, ‘Minnie Pearl: Centennial Celebration,’ on August 10. The exhibit will celebrate the 100th birthday of Minnie Pearl, the beloved character created by Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, and run through August 2013.
Minnie Pearl is known as the hilarious small-town spinster who wore gingham dresses and a straw hat with the price tag still attached while sharing stories about her mythical hometown of Grinder’s Switch. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 1940 and went on to secure herself as the queen of country comedy.
Minnie’s creator, Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, was born October 25, 1912, in Centerville, Tenn. She was a breast cancer survivor known for her philanthropic endeavors. Nashville’s Sarah Cannon Cancer Center and Sarah Cannon Research Center are named in her honor. Sarah passed away following a series of strokes in 1996 but the character of Minnie Pearl lives on, still greeting fans at the Opry with a hearty, “How-dee!”
Some of the artifacts on display in the ‘Minnie Pearl: Centennial Celebration’ include a script of Minnie Pearl’s 1957 network television debut as the featured guest on NBC’s This Is Your Life, a Family Feud trophy from when she and her team of fellow Opry stars—Bill Anderson, Dottie West, Boxcar Willie and Porter Wagoner—won the week-long ‘Grand Ole Opry vs. Soap Opry Special’ and a twelfth-grade report card from Hickman County High School for Sarah Ophelia Colley.
The American Cancer Society’s John C. Tune Award for Sarah Cannon’s efforts to educate the public about breast cancer, a statuette of appreciation from the dog training school Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a gingham dress with lace trim and the September 1945 issue of Minnie Pearl’s Grinder’s Switch Gazette, the comedian’s monthly tabloid newspaper, are also part of the display.
In conjunction with the year-long exhibit, the Museum will host a pair of programs on Saturday, October 27, to celebrate Minnie’s birthday. At noon, there will be a birthday party family program including birthday cake, joke-telling and more. Afterward, the museum will host a panel discussion about memories of Minnie Pearl.
Spotlight exhibits are narratives that supplement the museum’s core exhibition, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music. They are designed to provide a closer look at a person, group or aspect of country music, or spotlight recently donated items or special anniversaries. Other current spotlight exhibits focus on Bobby Braddock, Jack Greene, Reba McEntire, Jean Shepard and Taylor Swift.