Six neat things about Branson tourism history you might not know

Jack, Mary and Peter Herschend  near the time Silver Dollar City opened. *

Jack, Mary and Peter Herschend near the time Silver Dollar City opened. *

The little town of Branson, Missouri, nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, is an international tourist destination visited annually by millions. Branson visitors can experience almost 100 spectacular live shows offering a staggering variety of entertainment from Branson’s Clay Cooper’s Country Express to SIX; dozens of exciting attractions such as Ride the Ducks and Silver Dollar City, Branson’s award winning 1880’s styled theme park; world class shopping and so much more, but it wasn’t always so.

Let’s take a look at six things that happened to Branson Tourism along the way, starting in the beginning and coming forward:

1. Branson’s First Tourism Attraction – In 1884, when most people just saw a cave filled with bat dung when they looked at “Marble Cave,” William Lynch sensed tourism potential, bought the Cave, “sight unseen,” moved, along with his daughters Miriam and Genevieve, from Chicago to Branson and opened it up for tours. After his death and with a change in name to ‘Marvel Cave’ the daughters continued to operate the attraction until 1950, when Hugo and Mary Herschend leased the cave and the surrounding land from them, and along with their two teenage sons, Peter and Jack, took over the operation and management of the Cave. The Herschend family has been operating the Cave ever since and to this day, it is the oldest and longest continuous running attraction in Branson but that’s not all; it’s all of that, but to use the words of Zig Ziglar, “and then some.” (See Item #5 below.)

2. Harold Bell Wright’s novel “Shepherd of the Hills” – National attention was drawn to the area when Harold Bell Wright’s novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” about the love, life, adventures and folklore of the people living in the Ozarks was published in 1907. Thousands from all over the country came to see the area where the Shepherd walked and the “people” described in the story. The novel is credited with the start of Branson’s tourism industry. Ever since 1959 tit has been brought to life near the very spot where Harold Bell Wright wrote it as “more than 90 actors and actresses, and a cast of animals that includes, horses, donkeys, mules, and sheep present this epic tale in an amphitheater under nature’s roof of stars!” in the Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama.

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The “Owen Theatre.”

3. Owen Theatre – The “Owen Theatre,” subsequently renamed the “Owen’s Theatre,” was built in 1936 by Jim Owen, a local float trip operator on the White River, to provide entertainment for the fishermen when they weren’t fishing. Originally called the “Hillbilly Theatre” and, although first a movie theatre, it is considered Branson’s first “theatre,” movie or otherwise and was a harbinger of things to come. Located in historic downtown it is still operating as a theatre and its distinctive architecture and beautiful interior stone walls make it one of the most unique buildings in Branson.

4. The Baldknobbers – In 1959 the Mabe family started performing the Baldknobbers Jamboree which is credited as being Branson’s first show, the “show that started it all.” Interestingly, they did not perform in Branson’s first theatre, the “Owen Theatre,” but in a small rented space in a civic building located right behind it however, it’s kind of neat how 30 plus years after Branson’s “first theater” was built that its “first show” started in its shadow.

5. Silver Dollar City – Opening in 1960, the 1880s styled Silver Dollar City is not only Branson’s biggest paid attraction, but its most popular however, it did not start out to be a stand-alone attraction. It came from an idea of having an area where people could be entertained while waiting to go through the “Marvel Cave.” (See Item #1 above.) The concept developed into an 1880s themed village that was built by Mary, Jack and Peter Herschend, named “Silver Dollar City,” after the Silver Dollars that were given as change to promote the attraction, and opened in 1960. The first year, when it drew four times more visitors than “Marvel Cave,” Peter Herschend said, “We discovered we were in the theme park business,” and the rest is history.

6. The Branson Strip – In 1967 the Presley family built a theatre immediately west of the Branson city limits on State Highway 76 where they began performing Presleys’ Country Jubilee and, with some of the original cast members still performing, have been continuously performing it ever since. Although hard to envision today, it was the first show on what is today, the famed “Branson Strip,” running from the intersection of Fall Creek Road and Highway 76 to the intersection of the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Highway 76. It is “home” to the bulk of Branson’s shows and attractions and is traversed annually by millions of Branson visitors.

*Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City

 

Open dam gates bode well for amazing summer fun on Table Rock Lake

Turbine outlets for Table Rock Lakes Generation Units showing only Units 1 and 2 operating.

Turbine outlets for Table Rock Lakes Generation Units showing only Units 1 and 2 operating.

Many were surprised when the Corps of Engineers opened eight of the 10 spillways on Table Rock Dam at about noon on May 12, 2015. Not to worry; the release has more to do with a maintenance problem than any abnormal water level problems. James Sandberg, the Operations Project Manager responsible for all of the Corps operations at Table Rock Lake said that during the storms last weekend they lost a “transformer differential” and were forced to shut down two of the dams four generators, “Units 3 and 4.”

The Current Power Pool (Normal) Level as of May 12 is 916.3 on its way to the lakes “Summer Power Pool Level of 917.0 on June 1. The actual current level of Table Rock Lake, as of 3:00 p.m. on May 12 was 917.74. Sandburg said, “Since the lake is predicted to crest at 918 msl, we are required to release 15K CFS [Cubic Feet Per Second]. We can only pass approximately 7K through Units 1 & 2, so we will be spilling approximately 8K CFS through the spillway…” He went on to say that the total discharge is the same as it would have been if all four Units were generating power and that he expects the operation to continue this way until the lake gets back to below a level of 917.0.

The latest levels for Table Rock Lake indicate that it has crested at 917.74 and has started to drop. If that holds and history is any gauge, absent heavy rains in the near future, the level of Table Rock Lake should reach 917.0 over the weekend of May 15.

“That’s great news,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of Branson show and attraction tickets and lodging. “Table Rock Lake will be at its normal summer capacity as the tourism season starts, offering Branson visitors a virtual aquatic paradise of a full 43,100 surface acres and 745 miles of shoreline for fishing, boating, swimming, water sports and fun to enjoy,” she continued.

 

These five Branson “4th of July” fireworks displays will absolutely amaze you

The article below is for 2015

The Branson area's skies will be aglow with fireworks celebrating the Fourth of July.

The Branson area’s skies will be aglow with fireworks celebrating the Fourth of July.

“As the Fourth of July grows closer, a common question we are asked is, ‘Where’s the best place to see 4th of July fireworks displays?'” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Which one is the ‘best’ is an individual choice, but one thing is for certain, starting with the College of the Ozarks’ “Honor America” on June 28, Branson visitors will have an unrivaled variety of quality displays to pick from,” she added.

The reason quotes are used in mentioning the “4th of July” fireworks is because some of the most popular have, historically, been on a day other than the 4th of July. Although that is the case this year for two of the events, with July 4 falling on a Saturday, the other three will be on the 4th of July.

Here is a list of five of Branson’s major “4th of July” fireworks displays along with contact and other information:

Name: College of the Ozarks “Honor America”
Place: College of the Ozarks
Phone: 417-690-2212
Date/Time(s) /Comment(s): June 28 starting at 6:00 p.m. with concerts by Kimberly Patrick, Red, Hot and Blue, and AYO, Voices of Glory with a Patriotic Program beginning at 8:30 p.m. followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Branson Landing’s 8th Annual Liberty Light Up
Place
: Branson Landing Town Square by Fountains
Phone: Branson Landing – 417-239-3002
Date/Time(s) /Comment(s): July 3, concert featuring the incredible Sandi Patty, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Dino and Cheryl Kartsonakis, Denver and the Mile High Orchestra, Cor Captis, and Cadence followed by fireworks.

Hollister’s 62nd Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration
Place
: Historic Downing Street in Hollister
Phone: City of Hollister – 417-334-3262
Date/Time/Comment(s): July 4 at dusk. Good Viewing Area: Along Business Hwy 65 in Historic downtown Hollister. Areas oldest fireworks display.

Fireworks at Chateau on the Lake
Place
: Chateau on the Lake just north of Table Rock Dam on State Highway 165/265
Phone: Chateau on the Lake – 417-334-1161 or 888-333-5253
Date/Time/Comment(s): July 4 at dusk. Easily and conveniently viewed for free from Table Rock Lake via boat or park in loop just south of new overrun floodgates on Table Rock Dam or the Chateau’s public areas.

28th Annual Fireburst Fireworks Display
Place
: Kimberling City
Phone: Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce – 417-739-2564
Date/Time/Comment(s): July 4 at dusk. Good Viewing Area: Right on Route 13 in downtown Kimberling City, near Kimberling City Shopping Mall, about 6 miles south of Branson West. It can also be viewed very well from Table Rock Lake near the north end of the bridge.

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood reminds those planning to see one of the fireworks displays that the 4th of July period is one of the busiest times of the year in Branson, that the displays are very popular and suggests planning to arrive, except for “Branson Landing’s 8th Annual Liberty Light Up,” at least an hour before dusk and to bring your own chairs etc. Although Branson Landing has limited seating at the fountains, it is advisable to bring your own if you want to be sure of having someplace to sit and, especially with the concert lineup this year, to plan to arrive at least by 5 p.m. for the best viewing and hearing positions at the fountain. The fireworks will not take place until after the concert.

Wood also recommends making advance reservations for lodging, attractions and shows and offers the services of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, to provide information or assist with reservations for lodging, shows and attractions as well as ticketing. Please contact the Branson Tourism Center either through their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or their website www.BransonTourismCenter.Com.

 

What do you get when you combine Bluegrass, BBQ and Silver Dollar City?

Seven time IBMA Female vocalist of the year, Rhonda Vincent  and her award winning band  "The Rage" are just one of 40 groups performing thoughout Silver Dollar City's "Bluegrass & BBQ."

Seven time IBMA Female vocalist of the year, Rhonda Vincent and her award winning band “The Rage” is just one of 40 groups performing throughout Silver Dollar City’s “Bluegrass & BBQ.”

Silver Dollar City’s “Bluegrass and BBQ” (Festival). The Festival combines the fun and excitement of an award winning world class theme park with a Bluegrass music event that has been awarded the “Bluegrass Event of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and the great tastes of a variety of succulent slow cooked BBQ. Bluegrass and BBQ begins on May 7 and runs through Memorial Day, May 25.

In terms of Bluegrass music there is nothing like it. Nancy Cardwell, the Executive Director of the IBMA, 2012-2014, said that the Festival “presents more bluegrass bands on multiple stages to more new audiences than any other event in the nation.” This year the Festival will feature “more than 40 bands on multiple stages throughout the park, with international award-winning musicians, Grammy nominees, fan favorites and chart-climbing new bands coming for the festival.”

This includes Rhonda Vincent, seven time IBMA Female vocalist of the year and her band “The Rage,” who won 2015 SPBGMA Awards for “Bluegrass Band of the Year; “Entertainer of the Year”, “Female Vocalist of the Year (Contemporary)” with their fiddler, Hunter Berry, winning “Fiddle Performer of the Year.” Along with dozens of other performers the following will also be performing, “Balsam Range, winners of the 2014 IBMA Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year; Blue Highway, with 15-time IBMA Dobro Player of the Year and 2014 Songwriter of the Year; and the Grascals, two-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year.

“Newer artists include Flatt Lonesome, Driven, The Lindsey Family, The Baker Family and The Willis Clan, featured on America’s Got Talent and starring in their own show on the TLC network. Unique artists include The Kruger Brothers, bluegrass musicians from Switzerland, whose repertoire ranges from traditional bluegrass to Bach to R&B songs.

“Spotlighting the next generation of bluegrass talent, the park presents an annual Youth in Bluegrass band contest, set for May 23, with 21 bands from around the country competing for honors.” It should be noted that the performers will be appearing at different times during the Festival. Click here for a complete schedule of performances.

There will be plenty of mouth watering BBQ and the "fixins."

There will be plenty of mouth watering BBQ and the “fixins.”

Of course some of the finest BBQ around plays a big part in the Festival. “The House of BBQ,” located in the “Red Gold Heritage Hall,” features a variety of BBQ including slow-cooked pulled pork, ribs, chicken and brisket cooked on the parks massive 20-foot wood-fired smoker. Its new “Rib Extravaganza” features a variety of preparations such as Memphis Dry Rub – Traditional Spices; Root Beer Glaze – Sweet & Subtle; Cajun Rub – A Taste of New Orleans and Hawaiian Style – Mango-Pineapple Glaze. Want an all you can eat “Rib Fest?” Then the “All-You-Care-To-Eat Rib Feast,” in “Reunion Hall” located right next to “Molly’s Mill Restaurant,” served family style, from 3:00 p.m. until closing each day, fits the bill. The BBQ associated with the Festival is in addition to all of the other excellent food served throughout the park on a daily basis.

“But it gets better,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “All of the music and BBQ featured during the Festival is in addition to everything else the award winning 1880s styled theme park is famous for,” she added.

Silver Dollar City has over 40 rides and attractions, with four world class coasters, including it’s wooden coaster, “Outlaw Run,” with its initial 162 foot 81 degree drop and number seven ranking on the list of the “World’s Top 50 Wood Coasters;” dozens of demonstrating craftsmen; unique shopping and great live shows and entertainment. New in 2015 is the nearly two acre, $8 million Fireman’s Landing, with six new rides and four interactive activities designed for “kids ages 3 to 93!”

For additional information on Silver Dollar City or its “Bluegrass & BBQ Festival,” or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

“Super Summer Cruise” roars onto Branson’s summer schedule

Just a sample of the vintage cars that will be on display during the "Show and Shine" and in the Midnight Cruise."

Just a sample of the vintage cars that will be on display during the “Show and Shine” and in the Midnight Cruise.”

“The Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise with its ‘Show & Shine’ and ‘Midnight Cruise’ is one of Branson’s most popular summer events,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “The three day event will be held at the “Shepherd of the Hills Homestead” from Aug. 6 through Aug. 8, 2015, with the start of the “Midnight Cruise,” its last event on the 8th,” she added.

Thousands will line the Shepherd of Hills Expressway to see the hundreds of cars and trucks that will participate in the unique “Midnight Cruise,” which will follow the same route it used last year. The vehicles will enter the “Cruise Route” at the western end of the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway at midnight on Aug. 8 and proceed down the expressway, past the Shoji Tabuchi and Pierce Arrow Theatres to its conclusion at Roark Valley Road. Wood points out that the event is so popular that many put up chairs along the cruise route hours before it begins.

As popular as the “Midnight Cruise” is, it’s only part of an event that draws car enthusiasts from all over the country. Hundreds of beautifully presented and maintained “Modified” and “Stock” trucks and cars will be on display at the Homestead for the daily “Vehicle Show & Shine” from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. each day. Simultaneously, they will also be judged for awards in over 19 “Classes” such as “1900 – 1934 Stock & Street Rod Autos,” “1963 – 1968 Modified Muscle Cars,” “Corvettes All Years,” “Stock Trucks All Years,” and others; “Special Awards” including “Most Unusual Paint Job,” “Best Use of Color,” “Most Radical Engine,” to name a few, and of course, the awards for “Best of Show,” “First Runner Up” and “Second Runner Up.” The “Best of Show Awards” will take place starting at 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 8 along with the “Drivers Briefing for the Cruise.”

There is a maximum of 105 points available, 20 points for each of the five categories Exterior, Drive Train, Interior, Engine, and Customization plus an extra 5 Bonus Points for Safety, Hazard and emergency supplies. The “Best of Show Awards” are scheduled to be presented at the Shepherd of the Hills’ Pavilion Theatre starting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday August 8.

She also reminds those traveling north on State Highways 265 toward Highway 76 or on Highway 76, whether planning on attending the “Super Summer Cruise” at the Homestead, going to Silver Dollar City or elsewhere during the period August 6 through Aug. 8 to allow a little extra time because of the increased traffic that is anticipated, especially on August 8.

For additional information on “Super Summer Cruise” or 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 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

 

Six facts you might not know about cruising Branson’s Lake Taneycomo on the Lake Queen

Main Street Lake Cruises "Lake Queen."

Main Street Lake Cruises “Lake Queen.”

“The Lake Queen will begin her 2015 schedule of Ozark Sightseeing Cruises on beautiful Lake Taneycomo in Branson on May 18,” said Steven Johnson, the General Manager of Main Street Lake Cruises. “What better way to view the scenic beauty of the Ozarks, its birds, wildlife and learn a bit about the history of, not only Lake Taneycomo, but Branson itself than by sharing a special experience with your family on this 1.5 hour narrated cruise,” he added.

Here’s some facts you might not know about the Lake Queen and what you will experience on her cruises:

This Bald Eagle is just one of the different types of birds and wildlife commonly seen on cruises.

This Bald Eagle is just one of the different types of birds and wildlife commonly seen on cruises.

1. It is a truly unique and exclusive experience – From Bald Eagles and the other birds and wildlife abounding on Lake Taneycomo’s shore line to the every changing plants, trees and foliage; amazing natural bluffs stretching back into the eons of time; and the spectacular majesty of Ozark vistas you will see a unique “show” produced primarily by Mother Nature and not seen by the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year. The view of Branson Landing, its $7.5 million fountains and spectacular synchronized fire, water, light and music show viewed from the cruise is as unique as it is beautiful and inspiring.

2. Safety – The 84 foot long 140 passenger “Lake Queen,” her Captain and crew are all U.S. Coast Guard certified and approved. They are dedicated to just two things, your safety and helping make your time aboard the boat one of the most memorable parts of a great Branson experience.

3. Two Decks Provide Indoor/Outdoor Experience – Her two decks provide passengers with the complete flexibility to enjoy their cruise either on her upper exposed deck or in the fully climate controlled glass enclosed lower deck. ull Amenities – She is tastefully appointed and, while maintaining the nostalgia of the steamboat era, offers a full set of modern amenities including full sized modern restrooms; a full bar and snack food service.

4. Convenient Scheduling – The 1.5 hour cruises are conveniently scheduled for 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m.

5. Bottomless Pizza Cruises – The 11:45 a.m., lunch, and 5:45 p.m., dinner, cruises offer a Bottomless Pizza Buffet complete with unlimited fountain drinks. As with all cruises there will also be a Cash Bar for the purchase of adult beverages, fountain drinks and snack food service.

For more information on enjoying a cruise aboard the Lake Queen, reservations or tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Seeing one of Branson’s amazing morning shows is positively a great way to start your day

The Bretts, Brydon (L), -Briahna, Tom, Andrea and Garon

The Bretts, Brydon (L), Briahna, Tom, Andrea and Garon

“With the variety, quantity and quality of the live shows that Branson offers on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that it has many great morning shows,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Two of the most popular are the Bretts and Down Home Country. The comments below, taken from posts recently made to the Shows Forum of Branson’s biggest message board, www.1Branson.com are consistent with comments we routinely hear about these two shows,” she added.

The posts are published as originally written with the poster’s “on line” name preceding the comment in italics and underlined:

Bretts

Thesaint – The Bretts!!!! Our favorite morning show ever…lots of talent, variety, energy, and the family is pure class, and some of the nicest folks in town. Mom Andrea is an amazing songwriter/singer, and her “I Am a Veteran” poem always brings a tear to my eye. Dad Tom sings, plays guitar and piano and is the rock of the bunch. Daughter Briahna is multi-talented…a beautiful singer/dancer/musician, and the boys, Brydon and Garon…well, they are nothing short of amazing! Full of energy and talent (and they have some mean basketball skills!) and just plain fun! Live band, and the family comes out in the lobby for meet and greet afterwards. Don’t miss this show…

Daytimer – We love the Brett Family show! See it a lot, and never get tired of it.

bransoncutie – Can’t go wrong with The Bretts!!!!

Down Home Country

BobC – Best traditional country music show around. Get there early and have a great breakfast, including omelets made to order, plus everything else you can imagine to start the day.

Branson Junkie – Hard to go wrong with this one, and as was mentioned earlier the Grand Buffet is good for breakfast or lunch either before or after the show.

sanddunerider – Saw it today, “Mostly” all new this year. Lots of talent…

can’tcatchup – …If we could only attend one morning show – definitely Down Home Country. If they were not available then Buck Trent.

In addition, Branson has many other outstanding morning shows such as Amazing Pets, AYO starring the Voices of Glory, Buck Trent, Doug Gabriel and many more. For additional information or tickets for any of these shows or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Add some “Titanic” romance and elegance to make your special event absolutely amazing

The romance, elegance and mystique of  the Titanic provide a unique wedding venue.

The romance, elegance and mystique of the Titanic provide a unique wedding venue.

The way that the Titanic Museum Attraction (Titanic) and its crew members remember and tell the stories of those who were on the great ship, when she sank on her fateful maiden voyage over 100 years ago, gives their “passengers” a taste of the adventure, enthusiasm and excitement of that voyage. It is a unique and memorable entertainment experience that millions of Branson visitors have experienced since it opened over nine years ago.

Kristina Hagey, Senior Sales and Events Manager said that as people went through the attraction and experienced it there were requests to have weddings, vow renewals and other special events aboard the “ship,” a half scale replica of the original. She went on to point out that, as a result, the Titanic now offers a variety of options that permit people to incorporate the romance and elegance associated with the Titanic, in both legend and in movies, into their special moment or event and hosts hundreds of them each year.

These options include everything from birthday parties to elaborate corporate events and just about everything involved with weddings from the actual marriage proposal to the wedding and wedding vow renewals. Hagey said, “We have a number of Wedding Packages starting at $450.00 with pricing dependent on whether it is an indoor or outdoor package and the options chosen.” Whatever the case, whether the event is one of their packages or a custom designed wedding, Hagey assists in coordinating the event so the bride and groom and others associated with it can just concentrate on and enjoy their special moment.

Edward and Stacy Gilmore, on the Grand Staricase with 1st Officer Steve Patterson who "officiated", after renewing their vows in celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Edward and Stacy Gilmore, on the Grand Staircase with 1st Officer Steve Patterson who “officiated” the ceremony, after renewing their vows in celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary.

On the morning of April 22, I got to see firsthand how that worked when Stacy and Edward Gilmore, from Canton, IL celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in a Vow Renewal Ceremony on the Grand Staircase of the Titanic Museum Attraction. The ten minute ceremony was presided over by the ships 1st Officer, Steve Patterson. The Gilmores said they are “Titaniacs” and decided to renew their vows while visiting the Titanic last summer with their family. Stacy said that all it took was one phone call to Hagey, all they had to do was show up and enjoy the moment and that they were just thrilled with the way it went.

Hagey said that many of the events held at the Titanic throughout the year are weddings, corporate and other events customized to meet the needs of the client. Prices depend on many factors including whether the event is held inside the Titanic or outside, the time of year, number of guests, amenities etc. These events could be as simple as a “dessert social” or a First Class “progressive” or sit down dinner. Click here to contact Hagey for information on customizing a wedding or other special event.

She pointed out that the Titanic’s Wedding, Vow Renewal and Proposal packages can also be obtained through the Branson Tourism Center. Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center said, “The Titanic Museum Attraction is one of Branson’s most popular attractions and a wonderful venue in which to have a wedding or other special moment. It would be our pleasure to help anyone, not only with celebrating their wedding or other special moment ‘aboard’ the Titanic, but to coordinate it with lodging, Branson shows, attractions and other activities into a complete, wonderful, personal and memorable Branson experience.” The Branson Tourism Center can be reached by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Grand Jubilee truly is grand entertainment for your whole family

 

"New South," Jon Drockelman (Left),  Mark  McCauley David Ragan and Luke Menard

“New South,” Jon Drockelman (Left), Mark McCauley David Ragan and Luke Menard

The short and quick of it is, “Don’t miss it, the Grand Jubilee show truly is “grand” entertainment for your whole family.” As many times as I have seen this show, I expect to see and experience dynamic vocals from the quartet “New South” and Jackie Brown, hilarious comedy from Jamie Haage, great music from the “Grand Band” and the excellent emceeing of the show’s producer Mike Patrick resulting in an absolutely “grand” entertainment experience. I have never been disappointed, but this year there’s a synergy and energy that just adds another dimension of anticipation, excitement and excellence to what was already one of Branson’s top shows.

From the time the curtain goes up, well maybe even a little before, it’s non-stop entertainment filled with some of the finest vocals and comedy on any Branson stage. The main vocal component is the group “New South,” composed of Lead Vocalist, David Ragan, Tenor, Luke Menard, Baritone, Jon Drockelman and Bass, Mark McCauley. New South has consistently been one of Branson’s most outstanding quartets even as different singers have rotated in and out periodically. David Regan, the newest member of the group, is starting his first full season with the group and, if the show I saw was any indication, his addition will do nothing, but enhance and grow that tradition of musical excellence.

Each member of the group has a great voice that is demonstrated in “solo” features throughout the show, but when they sing together well, that’s when you will find yourself shaking your head thinking, “These guys are good, really good.” And if it was just their singing that would be enough, but there is an energy, enthusiasm and spirit of fun that just seems to radiate from them to the audience and draw them into the performance that adds so much to the enjoyment of the show.

New South performs a variety of music from many different genres including country, gospel, patriotic, and even a dash of Irish hard rock covering decades of hits and does an amazing job on them all. From among many, and although certainly subjective, some of my favorites were “Elvira,” featuring the bass voice of Bass Mark McCauley, the Irish hard rock song, “The Boys Are Back In Town, and, my absolute favorite, “How Great Thou Art” which was simply one of the most powerful and beautiful renditions of that song I have ever heard highlighted by David Regan singing the second verse and “the note.” What’s the note? When you hear it you’ll know!

The lovely Jackie Brown, performing "Cry."

The lovely Jackie Brown, performing “Cry.”

Jackie Brown is the show’s female vocalist. Her vocal talents are demonstrated on a number of songs throughout the show. My personal favorite was her performance of the Johnnie Ray classic “Cry.” What a tremendous job!

The “Grand Band” includes of some of the finest musicians in Branson. It is composed of  Michael W. Davis, Piano/Keyboard & Vocals; Wayne Massengale, Fiddle and Acoustic Guitar; Larry Allred, Bass Guitar; Rob Blackburn, Drums; David Creech, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Gene Mulvaney, Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo and Band Director.

These guys are not just great musicians, they are consummate showman. Whether it’s a musical feature like Gene Mulvaney on the steel guitar with Jackie Brown in “There Goes My Heart Again,” Wayne Massengale’s fiddle feature with New South as they performed “Play Me Mountain Music” or the band playing a number like “Pick It Apart,” their musicianship and showmanship add yet another delightful element to the show.

"Jim Dandy" and Mike Patrick during the "magic banana" skit.

“Jim Dandy” and Mike Patrick during the “magic banana” skit.

“Jim Dandy,” played by Jamie Haage, one of Branson’s best comedians, along with “straight man” Mike Patrick, kept me laughing throughout the show with a blend of comedy skits and one liners. It can be safely said, “No dark comedy here, just “orange comedy” and who wouldn’t want to know how funny and magical a banana can be? The comedy just flows in with the music at exactly the right time as the show seamlessly moves from one entertaining segment to the next.

Watching the metamorphosis of Haage from comedian to instrumentalist and vocalist is a special treat to see and hear. His playing of the banjo, steel guitar, drums, piano and fiddle, especially his “train duet” of the “Wabash Cannonball” and ” Orange Blossom Special” with Wayne Massengale, was a joy to experience, not only testifying as to the versatility and talents of this “grand” entertainer, but as yet another thing that makes the Grand Jubilee unique among Branson shows.

It would be impossible to write about the Grand Jubilee without mentioning its Director and Producer Mike Patrick. Not only is he responsible for producing this “grand” entertainment experience, that just might be two of the best and fastest moving hours of entertainment in Branson, but he is also Emcee, Jim Dandy’s straight man and even plays a mean honky-tonk piano version of “Balls of Fire” with “fire” coming out of the piano.

In a previous review of the Grand Jubilee I said, “It might seem like a cliché, but the Grand Jubilee is truly ‘grand’ entertainment. I laughed until I hurt, listened to some of the most talented musicians and vocalists I have ever heard, in Branson or anywhere else, and was thoroughly entertained by a fast moving production that held my interest throughout. It was over all too quickly.” Isn’t it wonderful that some things never change except to get better!

For additional information or tickets on the Grand Jubilee show contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

“Buzzin in Branson” during May 2015

Moonshine Beach, an unexpected Branson surprise.

Moonshine Beach, an unexpected Branson surprise.

“Buzzin in Branson” is a concise and easy to read list of the major events taking place in Branson, Missouri during the month being “Buzzed,” which is May of 2015 for this issue. Each issue contains the “Branson Buzz of the Month” and a list of the major special events, shows and activities for the month.

Branson “Buzz of the Month for May 2015

Opening of Moonshine Beach – Table Rock Lake with its 43,000 plus surface acres of aquatic fun and adventure is an Ozarks treasure. One of the most popular recreational areas on the lake, yet least known to many who visit Branson, is Moonshine Beach an unexpected “sandy” surprise for Branson visitors. Who would expect a beautiful sandy beach in the middle of the Ozarks located only minutes away from the Branson Strip and all that Branson has to offer.

The following list of major special events, shows and activities in May is sorted by event date and contains pertinent and timely comments and contact information, through either a link or phone number, that can be used to obtain additional information where appropriate:

May 1 – May 30: The Hits starring the Osmonds
May1 – May 30: Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
May 1 – May 3:World-Fest at Silver Dollar City
May 2 – May 3: Boot Daddy Presents Bill Medley
May 3: B.J. Thomas and John Conlee
May 5: Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson
May 5: Cinco de Mayo
May 6 & May 8: Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune
May 7 – May 25: Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival at Silver Dollar City
May 7: 14th Annual Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast
May 7: Larry’s Country Diner-The Whites
May 9: Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure
May 10: Mother’s Day
May 10: Mother’s Day Brunch at Keeter Center
May 15 – May 16: Health & Fitness Boutique Branson
May 15 – May 17: Home Front Shoot Out Tournament
May 15: Visions 2015 Branson Pontiac Meet
May 15: Moonshine Beach Opens
May 15: Candy Coburn Concert Branson Landing, 417-239-3002
May 16: Armed Forces Day
May 16: Shindig Shopping Spree
May 17: Divas Half Marathon & 5K Midwest at Branson
May 17: 2nd Annual Wheels For Freedom Car Show
May 18: Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen begins Lake Taneycomo Cruises
May 21: Jammin’ At Area 57
May 25: Memorial Day
May 30: The Shindig Shuffle

“Buzzin in Branson” is produced monthly by the Branson Tourism Center as a service to its customers and others interested in what’s going on in Branson to give them a “heads up” about what’s happening in Branson next month. If you have any further questions about these events or want information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.