Category Archives: Branson Events

Branson’s three major Christmas Lighting Displays

One of many Christmas lighting displays in the Branson Area Festival of Lights drive through display.

BRANSON, Mo., October 31, 2012 — In Branson, Missouri, last glimmer of Halloween and the Jack O Lantern is quickly replaced by the glow of millions of sparkling Christmas lights as it begins its celebration of Ozark Mountain Christmas. Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center said, “At this time of the year, one of the questions we are asked the most is, ‘Where are the best places to see Christmas lights?'”

Johnson points out that the entire Branson area is decorated for Christmas. However, in terms of Christmas lighting displays, by far the three areas that are the most extensively decorated and attract the most visitors to see their lights are Silver Dollar City with its Old Time Christmas, Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights and the Branson Area Festival of Lights.

Silver Dollar City, Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction is an 1880s-styled theme park that hosts a number of world class festivals each year. Its last festival each year is An Old Time Christmas, running from November 3 through December 30 this year. It has been recognized as one of the nation’s top theme park Christmas celebrations as it is transformed into a glowing Christmas spectacular with over four million sparkling lights throughout the park and a twice nightly 100,000 light Holiday Light Parade that winds through Silver Dollar City’s town square and by its five-story musical Special Effects Christmas Tree adorned with over one million colorful, sparkling and twinkling lights.

"Trail of Lights" display in shadow of Inspiration Tower.

The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights is a drive through light display located east of Silver Dollar City on Highway 76 between it and the famed “Branson Strip” on the 160 acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. The Trail of Lights is unlike any Christmas lighting display anywhere. Its two and a half miles has been integrated into the natural terrain of the “Trail that Nobody Knows How Old” made famous by Harold Bell Wright in his novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” offering a Christmas wonderland unlike anything else anywhere.

As would be expected, the drive through includes millions of colored Christmas lights. It also includes hundreds of beautiful displays, most in their own themed area including music; many animated scenes beautiful lighted displays and a trip to Inspiration Tower where you can ride glass elevators up 230′ for a unique view of the lights.

The “Branson Area Festival of Lights,” produced by North Pole Productions, is located a few blocks north of the Branson Strip on Expressway Lane with its entrance located at the northern intersection of the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Expressway Lane. The drive through display is “a one-mile drive along a path illuminated with more than 175 displays” that “will delight children of all ages.”

Pierce Arrow cruises into Preferred Event aboard Landing Princess

Cast of Pierce Arrow introducing themselves during cruise, Scott, left, Gary, Luke and Tim

BRANSON, Mo., October 12, 2012 — Branson is noted for the way most of its entertainers and stars like to “meet and greet” and interact with their fans. However, for the 100 passengers aboard Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess, on October 9, as part of the “Pierce Arrow Preferred Event” the term was taken to a new level. The Pierce Arrow cast met and posed for pictures with them as they boarded the boat and then went with them for a special exclusive chartered luncheon cruise on beautiful Lake Taneycomo.

As the sleek 100 foot long luxury yacht glided down Lake Taneycomo passengers were treated to a one of a kind view of the natural beauty of the Ozarks, waterfowl, the first blush of Fall foliage color and a view of native Ozark bluffs only available from Lake Taneycomo while enjoying, a scrumptious lunch. As they were finishing their lunch, the members of the “Pierce Arrow Quartet,” Gary Koreiba, Tim Storms, Scott Fraker, and Luke Menard and, one of the funniest men in Branson, the shows comedian Jarrett Dougherty, went from table to table talking with the passengers, giving them autographed pictures of the cast as well as posing for pictures and giving autographs.

Pierce Arrows Scott Fraker, right corner of table, talking with guests.

“Because of our two a day show schedule, we are very selective about the outside events that we do, but when this opportunity from the Branson Tourism Center became available we thought what a great opportunity,” said Doug Kissinger, Pierce Arrow Theatre Box Office Manager, who accompanied the cast on the cruise. “It fit in with our show schedule, and gave us an opportunity to work with one of our primary marketing partners in a win-win situation where the cast will have fun and the people coming to Branson will have a great time with it.” As he looked around the boat observing the interaction between the Pierce Arrow cast members and the passengers Kissinger reflected, “What a fun event and special experience for everyone, cruising Lake Taneycomo, great food, fellowship and what a view!”

Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) said, “Our whole mission is to make sure that Branson visitors, from the beginning stages of planning a visit to Branson to the completion of their trip have a great experience.” She goes on to say, “Because of the wonderful relationship we have with Branson’s attractions, lodging operators and shows, customers of the Branson Tourism Center frequently receive value added benefits that you can’t get anywhere else in Branson, like our ‘Preferred Events.'”

Johnson points out that not only do BTC’s innovative and exclusive ‘Preferred Events’ provide a unique unparalleled opportunity to see a particular Branson star or stars perform in their show, but to meet and interact with them in an exclusive, personal and special way while saving money in the process. Currently, a different “Preferred Event Package” is offered every month including two adult tickets to the Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess lunch cruise and an exclusive Meet & Greet with the cast and stars of the show participating in the particular “Preferred Event.”

She adds, “We are thrilled about the success of the Pierce Arrow Preferred Event and are excited that our next “Preferred Event” is the Shoji Tabuchi Preferred Event which will be held on November 28. Due to the limited availability of the stars involved and the fact that there is only one cruise for each of these exclusive Preferred Events, availability is very limited. Reservations may be made by calling BTC at 1-800-926-5341.

What is Ozark Mountain Christmas?

The center of Silver Dollar City's "Old Time Christmas." It's town square and five story special effects Christmas Tree.

BRANSON, Mo., October 9, 2012 —  “A common question for us at this time of the year is, ‘What is Ozark Mountain Christmas?’” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. She answers, “It’s a combination of things adding up to a unique Branson area wide celebration of the true spirit of a traditional American Christmas that has been celebrated for over two decades.”

From Historic Downtown Branson and Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo on the east to Branson’s most popular paid attraction Silver Dollar City on the west, Ozark Mountain Christmas is a world class celebration of the Christmas Season. With millions upon millions of beautiful colored lights, drive through lighting displays and everything from a spectacular five story high special effects musical Christmas Tree; reindeer; Santa Claus and a “Fantasy Princess,” to Branson’s shows, attractions, shopping and other activities taking on the festive look and feel of the season, it is a unique holiday celebration unlike anything anywhere.

If that was all there was that would be plenty, but that’s not all there is. Ozark Mountain Christmas has its roots in a community that will be holding its “64th Annual Adoration Parade and Nativity Lighting Ceremony” in Historic Downtown Branson on December 2, as it gathers together to celebrate the reason for the season and honors the birth of the child for whom Christmas is named, Jesus Christ. While appreciating and respecting those who celebrate other holidays associated with that time of the year such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and others, Ozark Mountain Christmas is a special place for those who appreciate the traditional American Christmas and the real “reason for the season.”

A centerpiece of Ozark Mountain Christmas is Silver Dollar City’s world class festival, An Old Time Christmas, running from November 3 through December 30, and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top theme park Christmas celebrations. The 1880s-style theme park is transformed into a glowing Christmas spectacular with a twice nightly 100,000 light Holiday Light Parade; over four million sparkling lights throughout the park; one-of-a-kind handmade gifts made and showcased by Silver Dollar City’s demonstrating craftsmen; foods of the season and special shows including the Broadway style production of an original musical adaptation of “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” and new this year, the debut of an adaptation of “It’s A Wonderful Life!” an original production with a cast of 14 strong which was produced exclusively for Silver Dollar City.

Ozark Mountain Christmas features two major drive through lighting displays, the Branson Area Festival of Lights and The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights. The “Branson Area Festival of Lights” is a one mile trip through more than 175 sparkling displays, many of which are animated. It is conveniently located a few blocks from the heart of the Branson Strip. The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights is a two and a half mile journey through millions of Christmas lights, hundreds of gorgeous displays, holiday music, and animated scenes most of which have been integrated into the natural terrain of the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. It is one of the most unique and memorable drive through lighting experiences most people will ever experience and also includes a “trip to Inspiration Tower where guests can ride glass elevators up 230 feet for a “Santa’s eye view” of the lights from above.”

One of the many spectacular numbers in the 2011 "Andy Williams Christmas Show."

And what would the place that many call the “Live music show capital of the world” be like at Christmas, or any other time of the year, without its live shows. There is a wide selection of Christmas Shows that are only available during Ozark Mountain Christmas such as the Andy Williams Christmas Show, which involved Mr. Williams “in all phases of the show including production, its music and the selection of the acts that [would] be in the show,” prior to his passing; Lennon Sisters Christmas Show Johnny Mathis Christmas Show, Tony Orlando Christmas, A Christmas Snow, Christmas in Hollywood, Christmas on the Trail, Mollie B Christmas Show, Sanders Family Christmas, The Bellamy Brothers Tropical Christmas, and others.

In addition most of Branson’s regular season shows also perform Christmas shows which are typically a combination of the best of their regular season show and Christmas and are as unique as the show themselves. This includes some of Branson’s most popular shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Pierce Arrow, Haygoods, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Dixie Stampede, Duttons, George Dyer, Hamner and Barber Variety Show, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Yakov Smirnoff, Duttons, Hughes Brothers, Rankin Brothers, Baldknobbers, Haygoods, Doug Gabriel, Grand Jubilee and many others. Other shows such as Acrobats of China, Joseph and Legends of Kung Fu, although not having a specific Christmas segment, are spectacular and add to the fun and excitement that is a part of Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Click here for a complete list of Branson Shows including information, pictures, videos, schedules, pricing and ticketing or call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550.

Many of Branson’s attractions have special activities for Ozark Mountain Christmas. A partial list includes the Polar Express operated by Branson Scenic Railways from November 8 through December 22;” Titanic Christmas and Winter Celebration at the Titanic Museum Attraction from November 1 through December 31,including, new this year, “The Fantasy Princess,” from Thanksgiving Weekend to December 31st,Wednesday through Sunday and “White Flight” at the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest November 1 through January 15.

Branson is a virtual Christmas shoppers dream. “From the shops at Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo to handcrafted items by the craftsmen and artists at Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas, two major outlet malls, the shops of Historic Downtown Branson and specialty shops galore throughout Branson, Branson Christmas shopping sparkles as brightly as its Christmas lights.

A highlight of Ozark Mountain Christmas will be the 64th Annual Adoration Parade and Nativity Lighting Ceremony on December 2. The lighting ceremony will be conducted near the intersection of Commercial and Main Streets in Historic Downtown Branson at 5:00 p.m. However, when the switch is flipped it will light the giant 30 foot tall figures of a Nativity Scene located on top of Mount Branson on the opposite side of Lake Taneycomo overlooking Branson Landing and Historic Downtown Branson. The lighting ceremony is followed by one of the few, if not the only, noncommercial, lighted nighttime parades in the United States devoted to the theme of “Keeping Christ In Christmas.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson says, “If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What has happened to Christmas?’ a visit to Branson during Ozark Mountain Christmas just might answer that question. She also reminds everyone that it is one of the busiest times of the year in Branson and advises advance reservations for shows and lodging.

For additional information on Ozark Mountain Christmas or for tickets or information for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

http://www.bransontourismcenter.com/

Branson hosts America’s largest Veterans Day Celebration

Branson's Verteran's Memorial Garden, one of the many ways Branson honors America's Veterans. is just one of the man

BRANSON, Mo., October 7, 2012 — “Honoring America’s Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families is an important part of Branson’s heritage and tradition,” said Tiffany Isnard, the Director of Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It is something that is part of Branson’s heart and spirit and is done on a daily basis, but nowhere is it more evident than during Branson’s annual ‘Veterans Homecoming Week’ running from November 5 through November 11.”

The week long event is a special and exciting time, not only for those whom Branson honors, but for Branson itself. A schedule of events for “Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week” follows below and is sorted by date, single day events first followed by multiple day events, and is current as of October 7. Click here for access to more detailed information on most of these events.

Nov. 5 – Patriotic Welcome to Veterans Homecoming Week, Yakov Smirnoff Theater
Nov. 5 – “Special Salute to Veterans” dinner cruise & show on Showboat Branson Belle
Nov. 5 – Vets for Vets Welcome Show, The Starlite Theatre
Nov. 6 – POW/MIA Service, Vietnam Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort Branson
Nov. 6 – 237th Marine Corps Birthday Ball, Chateau on the Lake
Nov. 6 – Veterans Sporting Clays Shoot, Ozark Shooters Sports Complex, 759 US Hwy 65
Nov. 7 – A Salute to Veterans Spouses Reception at the Radisson Hotel
Nov. 7 – A Salute to Veteran’s Spouses Luncheon, Radisson Hotel
Nov. 7 – Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion, Camden Hotel and Conference Center
Nov. 8 – Women Veterans Mini Reunion, Golden Corral Showroom
Nov. 8 – The First Annual Navy Ceremony “Lost at Sea,” Main Street Lake Cruises, Branson Landing
Nov. 9 – 16th Annual Military Gala & Banquet, Chateau on the Lake
Nov. 9 – Korean War Mini Reunion , Stone Castle Inn
Nov. 9 – 8th Annual Rose Petal Ceremony and Women Veterans Tribute Luncheon
Nov. 10 – 3rd Annual Branson West Flag Lighting Ceremony, Business 13/Hwy 12 intersection
Nov. 10 – Bretts For Vets Award Winner Presentation, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater
Nov. 10 – Wal-Mart Tribute to Veterans
Nov. 10 – Thanks4Giving Gala featuring Rudy Giuliani, Hilton Branson Convention Center
Nov. 11 – Military Wedding Ceremony at The Branson Landing Fountains
Nov. 11 – Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute to the Veterans, Welk Resort Theatre
Nov. 11 – 79th Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony, Downtown Branson
Nov. 11 – Veteran’s Day Flag Raising, Big Cedar Lodge
Nov. 11 – “Celebrate Veterans” Breakfast, First Baptist Church of BransonNov 4 – Nov 10 – Skaggs Veteran’s Wall
Nov 5 – Nov 10 – Veterans Village, Red Roof Mall*
Nov 5 – Nov 11 – Veterans Homecoming Week, Throughout Branson*
Nov 5 – Nov 12 – Vietnam Memorial Wall, Welk Resort Branson
Nov 5 – Nov 10 – Registration & Souvenir Commemorative Collectors Button Sales
Nov 5 – Nov 11 – Veterans’ Patch Wall, Main Lobby at Grand Country Music Hall
Nov 6 – Nov 10 – Day Room at the Red Roof Mall, Red Roof Mall
Nov 6 – Nov 10 – Free Lunches for Veterans, Red Roof Mall
Nov 6 – Nov 11 – Veterans Are Special, Hamner Barber Theater
Nov 6 – Nov  8 – WWII Big Band Dance, Our Lady of the Lake Parish Hall
Nov 7 – Nov 14 – Titanic Honors Veterans
*Although stores in mall are closed Veteran’s Week events are being held at the Mall.

Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week is celebrated during the first week of Ozark Mountain Christmas which runs from November 1 through December 31. With its Christmas shows, drive through lighting displays and Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas it provides those attending Veterans Homecoming Week with a unique opportunity to experience not only the events connected with Veterans Homecoming Week, but to also experience Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Branson Tourism Center’s Isnard reminds those attending Veterans Homecoming Week that November through December is one of the busiest times of the years in Branson and suggests advance reservations for lodging and shows to ensure not only availability, but to obtain the best seats accommodations. For further information on Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week, Ozark Mountain Christmas or additional information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 for free personal assistance or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

USS Point Cruz Reunion remembers “The Navy’s Baby”

Daniel Keenan, left, Clay Cooper, and Shirley Keenan.

BRANSON, Mo., September 17, 2012 — What does the reunion of the USS Point Cruz in Branson, September 10 – 14 of 2012 have to do the with an emaciated near death two month old Korean Caucasian baby in a Korean orphanage in 1953? Actually, quite a bit according to Daniel Edward Keenan, who was that dying baby. “If not for the intervention of the Point Cruz, I would not be here today. They literally saved my life,” he said.

Keenan and the Point Cruz first “met” in September of 1953 when the carrier escort docked at Inchon Harbor, in South Korean. Its Chaplain, LTJG Edward O. Riley, while responding to a request for assistance from Sister Philomena de la Croix, the head of the French Catholic Orphanage caring for 400 babies, discovered an emaciated, near death, blue eyed, fair skinned, baby with blond hair, called “George,”  amid all the Korean babies. Knowing that the chances of survival for a half blood Caucasian baby were slim Riley went back to the ship and explained the situation to its “Skipper,” Captain John T. Hayward, who instructed him to go back to the orphanage and to not return to the ship without the baby.

Although it was against all military regulations, not a “one trip” to the orphanage situation and took the intervention of visiting Vice President Richard Nixon, the “Baby George” not only came to the ship, but the necessary Korean Pass Port and U.S. Visa paper work was completed for him to come to the United States within mere weeks. As unlikely as this seems in this day and age Baby George went aboard a U.S. Naval vessel and into the welcoming arms of its 1,000 plus man crew, who treated him as a “member” of the families they were so far away from and to whom they longed to return.

Not only was George piped aboard the ship like a visiting dignitary, he went into a “nursery ” the crew had prepared with a crib and playpen, handmade toys and an environment under which “George,” or “Baby-san” as he was sometimes called, flourished. The stories tell how sheets were cutup into diapers, the crew took turns changing his diapers, anxiously awaited the daily reports on his improving condition and gathered to see him whenever the PA Announcement was made that the baby “would be on the hanger deck” or was wheeled around the ship in a modified “bomb carrier” baby carriage. Imagine, a U.S. Navy ship with diapers hanging from the “yard arm.” So unique and touching was the story that it was made into a TV movie entitled, “A Thousand Men and a Baby,” which aired on CBS in 1997.

During the process, a doctor from the hospital ship USS Consolation, Lt. Hugh C. Keenan, who had treated him and examined him for his Visa indicated a desire to adopt him and obtained the enthusiastic long distance sight unseen agreement of his wife to do so. When the USS Point Cruz arrived in Japan, “Baby George” was “piped” off the ship and, with Chaplain Riley, boarded the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey, a transport ship for transportation to the United States. When “George” disembarked from the ship in Seattle, Washington, December 12, 1953 in the arms of a Navy Nurse he was transferred directly into the waiting arms of his “mother” Genevieve Keenan.

“George,” was renamed Daniel Edward Keenan, “Daniel” being his dad’s father’s name and “Edward” after Chaplain Riley. It was over 40 years before “The Baby” and crew of the Point Cruz” met again. That was in a tearful celebration at the ships second reunion in 1993. Keenan has attended the vast majority of them since, including the one just completed in Branson, Missouri.

Julie Peters, Group Sales Manager with Branson Tourism Center’s Group Sales, worked closely with the USS Point Cruz in planning and holding their reunion., She said that in addition to participating in the fellowship and camaraderie of a military reunion, they also went to see Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express, SIX and The Yakov Smirnoff Show. Peters points out that while the group was at Clay Cooper’s Show he recognized them and asked Keenan to share the story with the audience. Peters said that  it’s always a special pleasure to work on Military Reunions and getting to hear the story behind “A Thousand Men and a Baby” was a special personal highlight.

What are the odds on that, Keenan and his wife Shirley would, on their own, elect to go to see the Branson production of the Price Is Right, Live Show, be selected at random as one of the contestants and win $2,500? Insignificant as compared to the odds involved with what happened to a near death baby named “George” more than half a century ago, but wonderful nevertheless.

Nature’s panoramic colorful Fall show premiering soon in Branson

The first blush of 2011's Fall colors as viewed from Point Lookout at the College of the Ozarks.

BRANSON, Mo., September 15, 2012 –From the first tint of color to “leaf fall,” the foliage of the Ozark Mountains in Branson provides a beautiful canvass for the colorful show that takes place each Fall as it changes color. Greg Cassell, Resource Forester, for the Missouri Department of Conservation said that the foliage color typically comes with warm days and cool nights and, in the Branson area, peaks during the third week in October.

“Even during this hot dry summer, the Branson area was blessed with key rains, and although the Fall foliage will not be as spectacular as it has been during some years, it will still be a one of a kind sight to behold and a Branson show not to miss,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “One of our most asked questions is, ‘What’s the best way to see the foliage?'” Johnson responds that there really is not just one best way and points out that the neat thing about the Fall foliage in Branson is that it’s simply there at just about every turn.

That said however, Johnson suggests that the following should be near the top of anyone’s list in terms of a “unique panoramic” view of the Fall foliage. It would be hard to get a more unique, up close or better a panoramic view of the Ozark’s foliage than from the decks of Main Street Cruise Lines’ Lake Queen. At first blush it might seem inconsistent to use the terms “up close” and “panoramic” together, but in the case of the Lake Queen it is an accurate depiction.

As seen from the bow of the Lake Queen, one can only imagine what this scene will look like over the next month as the foliage changes color.

Lake Taneycomo, is a long narrow impoundment of the White River, with its shorelines being much closer together than Table Rock Lake. A typical sightseeing cruise on the Lake Queen provides an up close chance to view the Eagles, Great Blue Herons, other birds, deer and see panoramic vistas not available through any other means except water. As the foliage changes color, these panoramic vistas turn into a a magnificent “canvas” of natures painting that has to be seen to be believed.

Another unique view comes from the lofty heights of the 230 foot tall Inspiration Tower located on top of Inspiration Point, one of the highest points in southwest Missouri, at The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead provides an unparalleled panoramic view of the Ozark’s foliage from a different, but unique perspective. Glass elevators transport guests up to the enclosed Observation Deck from which, on a clear day, they can see over 90 miles and hundreds of square miles of foliage presenting a spectacular view of the Fall foliage that is not available anywhere else.

There are a number of “Scenic Lookouts” that provide a superb panoramic view of the Ozark’s Fall foliage. These include the Lookouts on State Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265; the Table Rock Dam Overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dam across the road from the Visitors Center and the Henning Conservation Area Lookout located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376 on the north side of the road.

Another excellent panoramic view is provided at “Point Lookout” on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. Located on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo it provides a unique view of Branson’s Fall foliage not available anywhere else with Lake Taneycomo winding through it. It is simply breath taking. While at the college you might want to plan to eat at the Keeter Center and visit the “Edwards Grist Mill” and the “Ralph Foster Museum,” called the “Smithsonian of the Ozarks.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson also points out that a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle, on Table Rock Lake, or ride on the Branson Scenic Railway also provide unique panoramic views of Branson’s Fall foliage.

Silver Dollar City’s National Harvest Festival salutes “The Great American Cowboy”

One of the largest gatherings of demonstrating craftsmen and artists in America.

BRANSON, Mo., September 11, 2012 — “The U.S. Congress has proclaimed Silver Dollar City as ‘The Home of American Craftsmanship’ and its National Harvest Festival, running from September 13 – October 27, illustrates why,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Featuring one of the largest gatherings of demonstrating artisans and craftsmen from all over the country, The National Harvest Festival is one of America’s most recognized craft festivals.”

“A major ‘focus’ during the National Harvest Festival is craftsmanship, as the park features 125 top craftsmen from around the country, with more new crafters this year than ever before.” This provides a unique opportunity to see demonstrating craftsmen demonstrating their craftsmanship on American crafts at one of the largest gatherings of demonstrating craftsmen and artists in America. See crafts such as weaving, glass blowing, knife making, Native American flutes and dozens of others as well as Best of Missouri Hands juried artists and the Made in Missouri Art Faire show and competition.

The Festival will feature the “Salute to the Great American Cowboy” featuring “The Pinkerton Man,” an original  brand new Western stunt show production. The action filled show will follow the ” classic defender-versus-villain story, including hero fights, 3-story falls, high-flying stunts and rapid-slide rappels, explosions and more, with professional stunt men and women leading a cast of 14, plus live animals. The production, presented within the 4,000-seat Echo Hollow Amphitheatre — the only venue big enough for all the action, also features comedy and original live music performed by the Sons of the Silver Dollar.” Marty Schmitt, Festival Coordinator, said, “The amphitheater explodes with action, energy, pyrotechnics and, at times, chaos — a live demonstration of how action stunts put thrills in entertainment!”

“The Pinkerton Man,” an original brand new Western stunt show production, is filled with action and excitement.

The Salute’s entertainment also includes Western musicians such as “double-Grammy-winning musicians and 7-time Western Music Association’s (WMA)  ‘Entertainers Of the Year’ Riders in the Sky, multiple WMA Award winners The Sons of the San Joaquin, singer-songwriter and Texas poet laureate Red Steagall, three-part-harmony and violin trio The Quebe Sisters Band, and others. Throughout September guests can join in Missouri’s Biggest Barn Dance “with live music by Les Gilliam & his Silver Lake Band.

The Great American Cowboy Salute theme continues including Buck Taylor a legendary Western star and water color artist hosting “Buck Taylor’s Cowboy Emporium,” September 19 – October 27; meet and greets with Western celebrities from movies and TV shows including “The Rifleman,” “The Lawman” and “McLintock,” including Edward Faulkner, Johnny Washbrook, Mark Goddard, Lee Aaker, James Hampton and Peter Brown; Chuck wagon cooks and historians, historians and chefs, including Kent Rollins, a cattle rancher and chuck wagon cook ,whose talents have landed him on the Food Network’s “Chopped” and  “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” demonstrating  trail-side cooking ; “‘Extreme Mustang Makeovers’ where mustang expert Fred Woehl tames and trains three wild mustangs during the festival; trick horse stunts, trick roping; bullwhip demonstrations and “Cowboy Poets including Waddie Mitchell.”

The Harvest Festival will be replete with the aromas and tastes of the “Fall.” This will include favorites ” such as homemade soups and stews, smoked turkey legs and hearty skillet meals cooked on open grills.” as well as the other wonderful foods served through the park on a day to day basis.

“All of the activities involved with the Festival are in addition to everything else Silver Dollar City offers on a daily basis,” said . Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson. The 1880’s international award winning theme park features 30 rides and attractions encompassing everything from “Wildfire,” a world class multi-looping roller coaster that reaches speeds up to 66 miles per hour to their new $1 million “Half Dollar Holler” designed for kids through age 7 and so much more.

In term of value and being able to enjoy all that Silver Dollar City has to offer at your leisure, she points out that the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) has two day Silver Dollar City tickets for the price of a one day ticket. For additional information or tickets for Silver Dollar City, the National Harvest Festival or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact BTC by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Southwest Airlines shares the LUV with Branson

Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, welcoming Southwest Airlines to Branson.

BRANSON, Mo., August 27, 2012 — Southwest Airlines was welcomed to Branson in typical Branson style. The “Pep Rally” themed event was lead off by a welcoming parade down the Branson Landing Promenade, featuring dignitaries, the Branson High School Marching Band, Color Guard and Cheerleaders, followed by a welcoming ceremony and entertainment by Branson entertainers at the Branson Landing Fountains.

Speakers at the ceremony included Steve Peet, Branson Airport, CEO; Peter and Jack Herschend, co-founders of Silver Dollar City; Tony Orlando; Johnny Morris, Founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops; Bob Montgomery, Vice President of Airport Affairs for Southwest Airlines, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. With a slight change to the title, the theme song for the event, based on the speeches and the crowd’s reaction to Southwest’s announcement of Branson service, could have been, “Can You Feel The LUV Tonight,” from “The Lion King.”

Earlier in the day Southwest Airlines, who, with 3200 flights per day, is the Nation’s “largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded,” had announced that Branson would become the “79th destination to its route map with service” scheduled to start on March 9, 2013. This initial service will begin with daily flights offering nonstop service to Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby and Chicago Midway with Saturday-only service to Orlando. Southwest will assume all flying from AirTran Airways, its wholly owned subsidiary, with AirTran’s operations at Branson fully converting to Southwest Airlines.

“‘Southwest Airlines is proud to bring low fares, great Customer Service, and our red-bellied 737s to Branson,” said Bob Montgomery, Southwest Airlines’ Vice President of Airport Affairs. “We are looking forward to serving the community and offering more new destinations to Branson Customers.'”

Sharon Budnick, the Director of the Branson Travel Agency, a division of Branson Tourism Center (BTC), said that the Southwest announcement is wonderful news for Branson and provides yet another choice for those wanting to fly to Branson. She also points out that in celebration of the new service “Southwest announced a fare sale of $79* one-way between Branson and Dallas (Love Field), Chicago (Midway), or Houston (Hobby) as well as $99 to Orlando” for travel between March 9, 2013, and April 11, 2013 providing fares are booked by Sept. 6, 2012. Budnick said she would be happy to answer any questions on the new Southwest Service or the celebratory fare sale.  She can be reached by calling the Branson Travel Agency at 1-800-785-2176 or through its website www.BransonTravelAgency.

4th Annual CAM Gospel Sing-Off competition benefits area food pantries

CAM Christian Action Ministries

BRANSON, Mo., August 20, 2012 — The 4th Annual CAM Christian Action Ministries’ Gospel Sing-Off will be held on Sunday September 2nd at the spectacular Sight & Sound Theatre, the home of the spectacular production of “Joseph,” from 2 PM to 5 PM. The ten finalists will be competing for over $3,000 in prizes and the opportunity to sing at Silver Dollar City during the last day of its “Southern Gospel Music Picnic,” September 3, in this fundraiser for CAM’s mobile outreach and food pantries in Branson and Forsyth.

Jack Burke, CAM Board Chairman said, “The level of entry talent just keeps getting higher every year. Groups that would have made it to the finals in past years, didn’t make it this year. Our preliminary judges had an extremely difficult time arriving at a decision on the final 10 contestants to perform. This year’s show should truly be awesome”

For the 4th consecutive year, Bob Hubbard of the “Foggy River Boys” and “The Jordanaires,” will emcee the Sing Off. Guest appearances will also be made by the “Voices of Glory,” who finished in the Top Five of the NBC prime time hit show, “Americas Got Talent,” and last year’s winner “Southern Raised” as well as saxophonist Gary Dooms. The celebrity judges will include the “Voices of Glory,” Jak Knudsen from the show SIX, world class tenor George Dyer from the George Dyer show, Ronnie Page, Monte Schisler, and Ben Dutton from the Duttons show.

Tickets for the Gospel Sing-Off are available through the Sight & Sound Theatre’s reservations at 1-800-377-1277, at the Sight & Sound Theatre’s lobby box office or through the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550. Reserved seat tickets are a $12 donation for adults and $6 for children 12 and under.

Information provided by CAM lists the following information on the Finalists:

Heart to Heart is the Branson-based duo of Sharon and Jerry Mays. Winners of numerous awards, this couple brings an energetic blend of Southern and Country gospel with a touch of R&B and Southern Pop. Heart to Heart appears regularly at the Night Light in Branson.

Rachel Parker is a 16 year old junior at Branson High School who has won the high school talent contest and 1st place at the Dallas Expo. Rachel loves to sing for the Lord and performs at any church or venue that presents an opportunity.

Master’s Praise Vocal Group is an all-male acapella Christian gospel group from St. James, Missouri. Singing praises of God is an avocation, as each member has regular jobs and are active in their respective churches.

The Tiptons are a family-based group consisting of mother Virginia Tipton, daughter Lesa Tipton, son Dan Tipton, and friends Jamie and Dennis Esteb. Based in Evening Shade, Arkansas, the Tipton musical ministry has been celebrating the Lord in song for over 50 years.

Aleah Ziegelbauer is a contemporary Christian soloist from Nixa, Missouri, who loves to carry Christ’s loving message through song.

The Barnettes of Branson, Missouri are an award-winning duo known for their tight harmonies in both original and traditional gospel music. Larry and Sandra Barnette are strongly involved with Cape Fair’s Christian Senior Ministries.

The Fair Family of Rogers, Arkansas includes Jacob, Jonathan, Sarah, Daniel, and Nathaniel, ranging in age from 14 to 22. Instrumentalists, singers, and dancers, the Fair siblings love to celebrate Christ’s message.

The Believers Trio of Springfield, Missouri specialize in Southern Gospel. Charlie Norman, Jaimee Brummett, and Julie Renee’ Fergerson strive to see people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through song.

The Kings are a family band from Monticello, Illinois consisting of seven siblings. Individually award-winning instrumentalists in banjo and fiddle competitions, this lively family loves to entertain audiences with Christian messages of love.

Wendell Johnson has won many Christian vocalist awards over the years and loves to touch the hearts of others with his testimony of faith.

A Southern Gospel Picnic Silver Dollar City Style

Silver Dollar City's Southern Gospel Picnic.

BRANSON, Mo., July 30, 2012 — “Fun, adventure and excitement are a normal part of a day at Branson’s most popular paid attraction,” said Annette Wood, Director of Group Sales for the Branson Tourism Center. “Add in the soul stirring inspirational sound of some of the finest Southern Gospel Music in the land and a picnic, Silver Dollar City style, and the result is ‘America’s biggest Southern Gospel Picnic,'” she continued.

Silver Dollar City‘s Southern Gospel Picnic is the shortest of Silver Dollar City’s seven world class festivals, running just 11 days, from August 24 through September 3. Yet, it is an event eagerly anticipated by Southern Gospel music fans and is a great opportunity, for those who have not had the opportunity to hear it before, to experience it at its “uplifting soul-stirring” best performed by some of the finest Southern Gospel performers and groups in the Nation.

During the Southern Gospel Picnic in excess of 40 of the top Southern Gospel performers and groups will perform hundreds of performances throughout the park. Although subject to change these include, among others, Jason Crabb, 2012 Dove Award Male Vocalist of the Year & Artist of the Year; The Perrys, winners of a 2012 Dove Award for the Southern Gospel Song of the Year “Celebrate Me Home;” The Isaacs, winners of a 2012 Dove Award for the Bluegrass Song of the Year “Momma’s Teaching the Angels How to Sin;” Karen Peck & New River winners of 2012 Dove Awards for Country Song of the Year “Good Things Are Happening” & Southern Gospel Album of the Year “Reach Out” and dozens more.  Although not a musical performance, it should be noted that Christian speaker and humorist Dennis Swanberg will be appearing on September 1.

The Southern Gospel Nights concert series will be held each evening, weather permitting, at the park’s 4,000 seat Echo Hollow Amphitheater® starting at 6 PM each night, except for September 1st and 2nd when the starting time is 7 PM. Although each concert will feature a different Southern Gospel group each of the Southern Gospel Nights concerts will be hosted by KWFC-FM radio personality Dave Taylor.

On Sunday August 26 and September 2, special Sunday worship services will be presented featuring guest speakers and performers. David Ring, motivational speaker and pastor will speak on August 26 and Hosea Bilyeu, pastor and performer along with the “Hosea Bilyeu Family” will be featured on September 2.

“And what would a picnic be without food?” Branson Tourism Center‘s Wood rhetorically asks. In addition to all the delicious food normally available throughout the park the Southern Gospel Picnic will feature “The House of Chicken & Fixin’s,” located inside the parks “Reunion Hall.” The “picnic menu” features Silver Dollar City’s “famous golden Southern Fried Chicken” and other items including “succulent Apple Butter Glazed Chicken, delicious Orange Glazed Chicken, Hickory – Smoked Chicken, moist and tender Slow Smoked Pulled Pork all served with all of your favorite picnic fixins.”

As is the case with all of Silver Dollar City’s world class festivals, all of  the special activities, music and events of the Southern Gospel Picnic, are in addition to all the adventure and excitement that the international award winning 1880’s’ styled theme park offers on a daily basis. This includes two dozen rides and attractions including “Half Dollar Holler,” the million dollar play area for kids; 100 resident craftsmen, its shops and other unique activities.

Wood points out that each Silver Dollar City admission sold by Branson Tourism Center includes two days admission for the price of one and suggests advance reservations for lodging and shows, particularly over the long Labor Day weekend. For additional information on Silver Dollar City, the Southern Gospel Picnic or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550.