Three powerful words inspiring people to choose Branson

Just a few of the many exciting  ways to have family  friendly fun in Branson, Presleys' Country Jubilee, Ride the Ducks, Branson Scenic Railway, Lake Queen, and interactive fun aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction.

Just a few of the many exciting ways to relax and have family friendly fun in Branson, “Presleys’ Country Jubilee,” “Ride the Ducks,” “Branson Scenic Railway”, “Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen,” and interactive fun aboard the “Titanic Museum Attraction.”

“We love the input that we receive from the tens of thousands who interact with us on our Facebook page. It provides us with invaluable information that better enables us to help them have a great Branson experience and promote Branson’s amazing live shows and attractions,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center.

Wood said that although people write articles that are hundreds and thousands of words long, describing why people should come to Branson we thought it would be a fun challenge for our Facebook readers to see what they could do with three words. So we asked the question, “Can you say in 3 words or less, what is the #1 thing that most caused, or would most cause, you to choose Branson as a vacation destination?”

The three words used most often, either directly or indirectly were “Fun,” “Family” and “Friendly.” Here’s some of our favorite responses, with the handle the Commenter uses on Facebook and our comments, following in brackets, where appropriate.

In our opinion, the first five do an excellent job of summing up the awesome totality of the Branson experience in only three words:

Donna Glass: Consistently great time
Kayla Graves: Excited to go!
Debbie Sellen Artindale: I’m coming back!
Jena Maree Vaughn: So much to do. [Here’s a link to Branson’s major Shows and Attractions.

These next five are selections from the direct “Fun,” “Family” and “Friendly” answers:

Linda Mccoy: Fun, fun, fun
Jaime Johnson: Very Family Friendly
Jacob Russell: Family, Nostalgia, Fun
Linda DuPre: Clean family fun
CE Martin: Beautiful, family fun

These last five speak to specific reasons or things:

Suzanne Drennon: God, country, family [Things of the heart and spirit were seemingly as important as “things” in deciding to choose Branson for a vacation.]
Ashley Rucker: Silver Dollar City [Not surprisingly it was the attraction named most, but then it is Branson’s oldest and most popular Attraction.]
Jim Fine: The Awesome SHOWS!! [One of the biggest attractors was Branson’s Shows]
George Wilbur Jeter Jr.: BEAUTIFUL & RELAXING [A common theme throughout]
Kristie Stanley-Gatewood: Close to home [Branson is located within an eight hour or less drive for about one third of the U.S. Population.]

Whether described using words such as fun, family, friendly, value, relaxing, variety, entertainment, natural beauty, pristine lakes, closeness, excitement, adventure, or any one of dozens of other words, Branson is a unique one of a kind destination. Scott DeCamp sums it all up beautifully saying, “Best vacation ever” and isn’t that what we all want for our families?

You don’t want to miss the sensational Clay Cooper’s Country Express

Clay and Tina Cooper performing Squeeze Me."

Clay and Tina Cooper performing “Squeeze Me.”

What do you get when you combine an entertainer with the vocal talent and audience charisma of Clay Cooper, with the best dancers and choreography on any Branson stage, the vocal talents of featured female vocalist Kari Garrison, the talent and comedy of Matt Gumm, the rope and gun handling performance of Johnny Lonestar, one of the most talented live bands in Branson, and so much more? Two hours of great music, dancing, fun, laughter, and variety called the Clay Cooper’s Country Express Show that whisks adults and children alike, “down the tracks” on a delightful entertainment journey.

The musical talent and personality of the show’s star, Clay Cooper, are the “tracks” upon which this express speeds along. From his dramatic and exciting entry onto the stage and the show’s full cast opening number, “Fever” until his performance of the original song, ” America Stand Strong” during the show’s patriotic finale, Clay’s performance effortlessly demonstrates, why he has won so many Branson entertainment awards.

It should be noted that although the show emphasizes country music, it covers everything from country to gospel, pop, “funk,” and more. From among many sung by Clay, three of my personal favorites were the duet of “Squeeze Me,” sung by him and his wife Tina, the Hank Williams’ hit “Kaw-Liga,” and his performance of the Roy Orbison hit “Crying” which was another demonstration of Clay’s vocal range and talent.

As remarkable as his singing is, it is certainly equaled by his ability to not only relate to the crowd, but interact with them in a way that entertains the whole audience and draws them into their own entertainment experience. He goes out into the audience and triggers responses from them, with a warm comfortable humor, that has everyone laughing, having fun and wondering what is coming next.

Kari Garrison performing "Landslide."

Kari Garrison performing “Landslide.”

In addition to Clay, the show features a number of other vocal performances. From among many, I have chosen to highlight two, Kari Garrison’s great job on the Fleetwood Mac hit, “Landslide,” and RP Harrell’s inspiring performance of “America,” as part of the Patriotic Finale.

This is an excellent time to mention my belief in this show’s ability to simultaneously entertain both kids and adults throughout the show. From a vocal perspective, the show features quality “peer to peer” performances and appearances by Colton Cooper, Ezrah Noelle, Caden Cooper, and Rosie Dale. Just loved the total production number of the 1957 Thurston Harris hit, “Itty Bitty Pretty One” featuring Colton and the shows dancers. It was a WOW! Ezrah’s performance of “Cowboy Sweetheart” with her great yodeling did Patsy Montana proud!

Kids will relate to this show as they see "peer" performances by Colt Cooper with his dad, Cadin Cooper and Rosie Dale, and Ezrah Noelle

Kids will relate to this show as they see “peer” performances by Colton Cooper with his dad, Caden Cooper and Rosie Dale, and Ezrah Noelle.

In addition to the peer to peer vocals however, the show has two other acts that will equally appeal to both adults and kids. Johnny Lonestar’s trick “gun slinging,” whip, and rope act, as seen on the NBC primetime show, “America’s Got Talent” is amazing and, the multi-talented Matt Gumm does everything from comedy, to playing the Hammered Dulcimer, and Donald Trump. His “air horn” routine is as amazing as it is funny.

A unique aspect of this show is its dancers. Tina Cooper, the show’s choreographer, and one of the dancers herself, is to dance choreography on the Branson stage, what her alma mater, the “University of Oklahoma,” from which she received a “Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Music Theatre with a Minor in Dance” is to football. The masterful way she has woven the talents of her extremely talented dancers into the show, is a thing of exquisite beauty that is unique and easily sets it apart from any other country music show that I have ever seen.

No matter what style, the Country Express Dancers do it with an energy, grace, and precision that demonstrates why they are one of, if not “the,” top dancing troupe(s) in Branson. Their performance during the show’s opening number, “Fever” sets the stage for what is to come. The beautiful dance feature performed by Jenn Turner and Nathan Applegate as Clay sang Garth Brooks “Thunder Road” was breath taking, not only in terms of the dancing, but the story it told as Clay sang. To me it was another WOW moment. In addition to Tina Cooper, the Country Express Dancers include Nathan Applegate, Nate Bittner, Sarah Blackerby, Kristen Chandler, Hailey Denton, Jeremiah Eugenio, Kelly Smith, Elizabeth Sparks, Jenn Turner, and Colton Williams.

The Country Express Band consists of RP Harrell, piano and Musical Producer; Barry Bales guitar and vocals; Dave Clark, bass guitar; Jimmy Hyde, Drums; Greg Moody, guitar; and Robby Springfield, string guitar. Although their talent is obvious throughout the whole show, it is highlighted, both in total and individually, in their performance of the Eagles hit, “Already Gone,” which also featured Matt Gumm on the Hammered Dulcimer

In a previous “review” of this show I wrote, “From before the curtain goes up until it drops, this show is an “express” ride through two plus hours of the most engaging, energetic and talented entertainment available in Branson hosted by a performer who can work an audience as beautifully as he sings and his wife choreographs and dances.” After seeing the 2016 edition of this outstanding show all I can say is, “Ditto,” and add, “Don’t miss it!”

For additional information on the Clay Cooper’s Country Express Show 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

Branson Up-Close and Personal with the “M & M” of the Hughes Brothers Family

Lena Hughes, the blessed and proud Mother of the Hughes Brothers and their families.

Lena Hughes, the blessed and proud Mom, Mother-in-Law, and Grandmother of the Hughes family.

It is certainly no exaggeration to say that the “M & M” of the Hughes brothers, first, and still, as their Mother and, for over two decades as their Manger, Lena Hughes has been with them, on their inspired journey, since the very beginning. Lena’s five extremely talented sons, their talented wives, and children, make up the “world’s largest performing family,” and star in two of Branson’s most popular shows, it starring the Hughes Brothers and the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, Branson’s longest running totally Christmas show.

“Branson-Up Close and Personal,” is a service of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) and is intended to provide readers with an unprecedented look at a Branson celebrity or personality. The interview with Lena Hughes (LM) was conducted on July 28, 2016 for BTC by Gary J. Groman, a 30 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist and freelance writer, and is presented in a Question and Answer format:

BTC: In what town did you live prior to moving to Branson?
LH: Taylorsville, Utah.

BTC: Is that where the Hughes Brothers were born and raised?
LH: Yes.

BTC: For how many years did you live there?
LH:  26.

BTC: Did you perform with what was to become the “Hughes Brothers,” with your husband Gary, when they first started?
LH: Yes, I sang and played the clarinet; Gary played the accordion and sang

BTC: When was that?
LH: In the late 60’s.

BTC: What was the original name of the act?
LH: Oh, it was very original, “The Hughes Family Show.”

BTC: When did you and Gary stop performing?
LH: Around 1979. It then became the “Hughes Brothers Show.”

BTC: What role did you and Gary play with the show immediately after you stopped performing?
LH: That’s when I assumed the role of “M & M,” Mom and Manager and Gary ran the sound.

BTC: What did the Hughes Brothers do between 1983 and 1994?
LH: Traveled around the country performing from our home in Taylorsville.

BTC: When did you come to Branson?
LH: 1995

BTC: So in general terms, the Hughes Brothers have only lived in two places, Taylorville, UT and Branson, MO.
LH: Yes.

BTC: How big a gamble was it for the Hughes family to move to Branson?
LH: It was a big gamble, but the real story lies in all the things that pushed us to Branson.

BTC: What pushed you to Branson?
LH: It was a power bigger than us that we couldn’t fight. Consistently, over the years, as we performed people would tell us about Branson and suggest that it would be a perfect place for us to perform and, from the magazine in the Doctor’s office with the Osmonds in Branson on the front cover, to the man who finally helped us break into Branson, and much more in between, it just seemed like Branson was the place where we were supposed to be. After much prayer and getting a short contract with Silver Dollar City, the whole family moved to Branson in 1995.

BTC: What did the gamble involve?
LH: Selling our home and business and uprooting our entire family. Up to that time, the Hughes Brothers was not our only source of income because we had other income coming in from our business, but that all changed when we moved to Branson.

BTC: What’s your fondest memory of the time you spent in Taylorsville?
LH: I have two; working in my garden without any rocks in it and just watching the boys develop their talents.

BTC: What did you do between Silver Dollar City and the time you purchased the “Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre?”
LH: Persisted and, in faith, walked through every door that opened, as we developed our own show and were ready when the door opened and presented us with the opportunity to buy our own theatre.

BTC: When and what was that?
LH: In January of 2000 when Jim Thomas offered us the opportunity to buy the “Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre.”

BTC: Was it smooth sailing after that?
LH: Well the opportunity was a blessing, but it involved a miracle to fully bring it to fruition on the very last day, almost five years later.

BTC:  When did that happen?
LH: October 4, 2004.

BTC: Did you and Gary decide to add to the family after the boys had grown up?
LH: Yes, we adopted four, two sisters and a brother and sister from Russia in 2003. They were between the ages of 9 and 13.

BTC: When did the Hughes Brothers start incorporating other family members into the act?
LH: Over 20 years ago, when Kristina was about a year and half old and started coming up on stage and performing while we were at Silver Dollar City. Obviously, it has steadily evolved since then, to the point of where we are today.

Lena and her late husband Gary, surrounded by the Hughes family.

Lena and her late husband Gary, surrounded by the Hughes family in this 2013 Christmas photo.

BTC: What do you feel when you see your sons performing on stage with their wives and your grandchildren?
LH: I’m so inspired and think to myself, “This is why we do this.”

BTC: What’s your favorite part about this year’s it starring the Hughes Brothers?
LH: I really like the last number where about 20 of the children, ranging in age from 9 to 16, sing Children Will Listen. It’s beautifully arranged and performed and has such an inspirational message.

BTC: If a mother called you up and said, “Why should I bring my family to your show?” what would your response be?
LH: Families just love our show because its great entertainment that connects to all ages throughout the whole show, while reminding them so much of their own family, as they sense how much our family loves each other and being together.

BTC: Is the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show really 100 percent Christmas?
LH: It absolutely is!

BTC: Is there something special and unique about the living Nativity in the Hughes Brothers Christmas show?
LH: Yes, we are the only show in Branson, if not the whole world, that’s been able to produce a live “Baby Jesus,” from within the family, for the past 20 years.

BTC: What’s your fondest memory of the 21 years you have spent in Branson?
LH: My fondest memory is the day we took over total ownership of this theatre on October 4, 2004.

BTC: What one word best describes how you feel about being the “Mom,” “Mother-in-Law,” and “Grandmother” of the Hughes Brothers and their families?
LH: It has to be two words, “Blessed” and “Proud.” “Blessed” speaks for itself, but what I am “Proud” of is simply that they are just such good people.

The Best of Branson Insider Highlights for August 2016

Terry Fator and Friends and Super Summer Cruise are just two of the exciting events happening in Branson during August.

The “Super Summer Cruise” and “Terry Fator,” along with some of his friends, are just two of the exciting events happening in Branson during August.

“It’s doubtful that any other place in America offers the unique variety and choices for having fun and being entertained that Branson does,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. In addition to everything else Branson offers, here’s our “insider highlight list” of some of the unique and exciting additional events that Branson visitors will be able to enjoy during August, including our Featured Show and Event of the Month:

"Raiding the Country Vault's Colt Prather, right, Melody Hart, and Billy Yates during their spectacular performance of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia."

“Raiding the Country Vault’s” Colt Prather, right, Melody Hart, and Billy Yates during their spectacular performance of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”

Featured Show of the Month: Branson’s newest major show, Raiding the Country Vault, has only been open for a few short weeks. After seeing it, I must agree with many who saw it before me, and said that six words pretty well summed up their experience, “It will blow your socks off!” One person who saw the show wrote, “It is a master production of the highest quality and it is devoted to traditional country music. While staying true to the traditional country sound, the music is presented with enthusiasm and attitude.” As three large screens display the name of artist who made the song famous, their history, and other information about the song itself, the cast reaches into the ‘Vault’ and performs each, turning legendary songs from the past into what is easily one of the most amazing entertainment experiences in Branson.

Featured Event of the Month: The Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise Weekend with its “Show & Shine” and “Midnight Cruise” is one of Branson’s most popular summer events. The three-day event, to be held at the “Shepherd of the Hills Homestead,” features hundreds of classic cars and trucks on public display during the daily “Show & Shine” and culminates with its famous “Midnight Cruise,” down Shepherd of the Hills Expressway.


Aug 5: The Happy Together Tour
Aug 6-7: Terry Fator
Aug 7: Bret Michaels

SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

Aug 1 – Aug 31: 2016 World Exclusive Exhibit – Titanic Museum Attraction
Aug – Aug 13: Night Water! at White Water
Aug 1 – Aug 7: Silver Dollar City Moonlight Madness
Aug 1 – Aug 5: Ball Parks of America Bring the Lumber Baseball Tournament
Aug 4 – Aug 6: Vintage Camper Event – Branson KOA
Aug 5 – Aug 7: Missouri State Tax-Free Holiday Sale
Aug 5 – Aug 7: Tax Free Holiday Shopping at Tanger Outlets
Aug 5 – Aug 7: “End of Summer Savings” Sidewalk Sale
Aug 7: 10th Annual Back to School Bash
Aug 8 – Aug 10: Baseball Youth All Star Challenge
Aug 10 – Aug 13: Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise Weekend
Aug 11 – Aug 14: Baseball Youth World Championships
Aug 13: Promenade Pop-Up Shop
Aug 13: Outlaw Nation Southern Revival Concert Series
Aug 16: Foraging in the Ozarks: Wild Edible-Medicinal Plant and Bird ID Mosey
Aug 17 – Aug 21: Youth Baseball Network (YBN) National Tournament
Aug 17 – 20 Youth Baseball (YBN) Coaches Convention 417-335-5767
Aug 20: 3rd Annual KidSTYLE Back-to-School Bash at Tanger Outlets
Aug 25 – Sep 5: Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic Festival
Aug 26 – Aug 28: 28th Annual Fiddle Festival Presented by Grand Country
Aug 28 – Sep 4: Southern Gospel Cruises on the Showboat Branson Belle

For additional information on these events, or 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 visiting, or calling 1-800-785-1550.


Branson shows promise an awesome Thanksgiving weekend

Four of the many Branson shows that will be open over the Thanksgiving Day Weekend, SIX, top left, Clay Cooper's Country Music Express, Presleys' Country Jubilee, and It Starring the Hughes Brothers.

Four of the many Branson shows that will be open over the Thanksgiving Weekend, SIX, top left, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, and It Starring the Hughes Brothers.

“Although it’s early, we are getting questions about what shows will be open on Thanksgiving Day and over that weekend,” said, Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “We are pleased to provide a list of most of the Branson shows scheduled to be open on Thanksgiving Day and over that weekend. It is in alphabetical order with those on Our List of Most Popular Branson Shows listed first. Those that will be open on Thanksgiving Day are indicated with an * after their entry; the links will take you to the specific show page with additional information on the show, schedules, ticketing, special discounts, pricing options like VIP seating, videos and more:

Acrobats of China*

Amazing Pets*

Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza*

Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett

Branson Country USA

Christmas Wonderland

Clay Cooper’s Country Express

Comedy Jamboree

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies

Grand Jubilee*

Hughes Brothers Christmas Show*

Legends in Concert*Million Dollar Quartet*


Moses Behind the Scenes Tour

New Jersey Nights*

Ozark Mountain Jubilee

Presleys’ Country Jubilee

Puttin’ on the Ritz*

Reza Edge of Illusion*

Shoji Tabuchi*


Sunday Gospel Jubilee

The Blackwoods Morning Show

The Haygoods*

The Lettermen*

160722 Composite Sm UIA1

#1 Hits of the 60’s & 50’s too

50s Rock Roll and Reminisce

70’s Music Celebration Starring Barry Williams*

ABBA Tribute – Thank You for the Music

Alabama Rolls On Tribute

All American Gospel

All Hands on Deck

Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai*

A Neil Diamond Tribute*

Art Parties Tonight

A Tribute To George Strait Dinner Show

A Tribute to John Denver*

A Tribute to Marty Robbins*

AYO starring Voices of Glory

Beach Boys California Dreamin’

Bee Gees and Beyond

Big Clayton’s Piano Show

Boot Daddy Presents Dailey & Vincent

Branson Murder Mystery Dinner Show

Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers


Carpenters Once More*

Christmas on the Trail Chuckwagon Dinner Show*

Classic Country’s Patsy Cline & Friends

Comedy Hypnosis Show*

Conway Remembered

Crazy ’bout Patsy and Other Country Legends*

Dixie Stampede*

Doo Wop and the Drifters


Eagles Tribute Concert

Forever Young

George Jones and Friends Remembered

George Strait Country starring James Garrett*

Golden Sounds of The Platters with Eddie Stovall*

Hallmark Presents Maxine’s Christmas Carol*

Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show*

Hank Williams Revisited

Hot Rods & High Heels

Kelli Grant “The Queen of Swing”

Legend of Kungfu – Return of the Dragon*

Lynyrd Skynyrd & Suthyrn Fryd Frynds Tribute

Magnficent 7 Show

Motown Downtown*

Ozark Mountain Opry Show

Pierce Arrow*

Red, Hot & Blue

Sanders Family Christmas*

Showboat Branson Belle*

Smoke on the Mountain

The Hypnolarious Show*

The Petersen Family Bluegrass Band

The Sons of Britches


Twice Adopted*

Waylon, Willie & The Good Ol’ Boys

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison reminds that show schedules are subject to change. For the most current schedules, he suggests checking the link for any show you might be interested that is listed in this article, which will automatically be updated; the BTC Branson Show List, the most current list of Branson shows available anywhere; or calling the Branson Tourism Center, at 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of its Branson based Travel Planners.

Awesome Dutton quality, value, & customers service make Dutton Inn a special Experience!

Dutton Inn

Dutton Inn

Millions were introduced to the Duttons’ talent, friendliness, and charisma as they rose to the top ten on Season 2 of the NBC prime time hit “America’s Got Talent.” They discovered what their fans, and Branson audiences, had experienced for years prior, and are still experiencing today at the Duttons show in Branson. What many don’t know however, is that the Dutton family owns the Dutton Inn, located just behind their theatre, which provides the lodging equivalent of what the Duttons show is to the highest quality in Branson entertainment.

During a recent interview with Belle Dutton, the beautiful wife of Jonathan Dutton, and one of the mangers of the Dutton Inn she said, “From check-in to check-out, we are dedicated to one thing, giving our guests a wonderful memorable lodging experience, filled with the friendliness and quality that reflects the Dutton’s values and standards. One that makes us proud to have our name on it.”

One of the Dutton Inn's tastefully appointed double queen rooms.

One of the Dutton Inn’s tastefully appointed double queen rooms.

The Inn has 76 tastefully appointed rooms, each with two queen sized beds and a full set of amenities. Each also “has a coffee pot, granite counter tops at the sink in bathroom, FREE Wi-Fi connection, flat screen TV, 60 cable channels, nightstand, lamps, dresser, table, chairs, microwave, mini-fridge, and free local calls. Hair dryers, irons, and ironing boards are available, by request, from the front desk at no additional charge.” Although it has no pool or game room the Inn is ideally located within a five to ten minute walk of White Water and just across the parking lot from Cici’s and its large game room.

Belle points out that staying at the Dutton Inn is more than just staying in one of the cleanest rooms in Branson. From that special Dutton family ambiance and spirit, to its excellent location, full family breakfast, unparalleled customer service, and the willingness to do all that is expected, “and then some,” to meet or exceed their guest’s expectations, staying at the Inn is an experience that will become a special part of your Branson visit.

In terms of location, the Dutton Inn is about as good as it gets. Tucked back near Green Mountain Drive, away from the noise and bustle of the Branson Strip, guests can conveniently enter and leave the Inn’s parking lot from either Highway 76 or Green Mountain Drive. This provides a number of ways to avoid the Highway 76 traffic in getting to destinations such as Silver Dollar City, Branson Landing, Historic Downtown Branson, Titanic, Table Rock Lake, and many others. Belle said the front desk personnel will be glad to advise guests on the best way to get where they are going.

Even better is the fact that guests are within a convenient five to ten minute walk from many of Branson’s shows, attractions and restaurants. Among others, these include White Water, the Branson Ferris Wheel, and the Track Family Fun Park, as well as shows such as the Duttons, SIX, AYO, “It” starring the Hughes Brothers, Forever Young, Liverpool Legends, and George Dyer as well as restaurants such as Cicis, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Shindigs, Dutton Deli, and many others.

She also pointed out that the Inn is a participant in the Branson Tourism Center’s (BTC) Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program. If you book your stay at the Dutton Inn through BTC, subject to the programs minimal conditions, the price you pay is guaranteed to be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered for the same room on the same dates anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate.

Belle emphasized her belief that when you combine the Dutton Inn quality, cleanliness, price, service, location, and the Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee, that not only is the Inn one of the best lodging values in Branson, but an experience that will become a wonderful part of your Branson memories. For additional information or reservations for the Dutton Inn please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting

Raiding the Country Vault will blow your socks off!

Colt Prather and Melody Hart during their spectacular performance of "The Devil Went Down To Georgia."

Colt Prather and Melody Hart during their spectacular performance of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”

Branson’s newest major show, Raiding the Country Vault, has only been open for a few short weeks and it’s the talk of Branson. For those who haven’t heard, six words pretty well sum up what all the talking’s about, “It will blow your socks off!” After seeing the show on July 7, I sure had to grab my socks and put them back on.

Devoted to traditional country music, it is an extremely well-produced show, presented by a cast who are not only masters at their craft, but obviously have a love and enthusiasm for the music they are performing. And perform it they do, with the title of an early George Straight hit, Give It All We Got Tonight, song sung early on by Billy Yates, describing the energy and passion this extremely talented cast puts forth from beginning to end.

It would take quite a bit of space to list all their professional accomplishments so, suffice it to say that they are extremely talented, well rooted in traditional country music, and, except for one, are based in Nashville and other points outside of Branson. Led by Michael Peterson, Musical Director, Guitarist, and Lead Vocals; it consists of Billy Yates, Lead Vocals and Guitar, a Missouri Native who co-wrote the Grammy Award winning song, “Choices” and the George Jones Classic, I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair;  Colt Prather, Lead Vocals and Lead Guitar; Michael Peterson, Lead Vocals and Guitar; Derrek C. Phillips, Drums, Scott Kwapiszeski, Pedal Steel and Banjo; Danielle Peck, Lead Vocals; Michelle Poe, Lead Vocals and Bass; Steve Ramsey, Keyboards; and Melody Hart, Lead Vocals and Fiddle, who has been a Branson favorite since she started playing the fiddle and singing in Branson in 1989.

The show includes a “lite” story line involving “Roadie” Taylor Kidd, played by Actor/comedian Luke Ashlocke, as he shares his back stage experiences about what happens on tour. Ashlocke also plays the part of country music star, Ricky Montana as he is interviewed by the effervescent Jackie Daniels, star of her TV show, Road Tales, but the shows primary focus is on legendary country music and those who made it so.

Danielle Peck and Billy Yates performing the classic Dolly Parton-Kenny Rogers duet of "Islands in the Stream."

Danielle Peck and Billy Yates performing the classic Dolly Parton-Kenny Rogers duet of “Islands in the Stream.”

“BobC,” who saw the show, and commented about it on the Show Forum of WWW.1Branson.Com, summed the result up so well, when he wrote, “Raiding the Country Vault is a master production of the highest quality and it is devoted to traditional country music. While staying true to the traditional country sound, the music is presented with enthusiasm and attitude.” As three large screens display the name of artist who made the song famous, their history, and other information about the song itself, the cast reaches into the “Vault” and performs each, turning legendary songs from the past into what is easily one of the most amazing entertainment experiences in Branson.

Some might ask, “How can a group of musicians and vocalists, even those as talented as these, playing and singing songs from the past, provide a relevant amazing entertainment experience today?” The answer is simple, “Because they can!” From the beginning to end, this wonderful country music journey has one WOW performance after another, and it’s not just their considerable talent. Although intangible, when you sense and feel their commitment and passion to the music they are performing, it takes an already great entertainment experience and makes it an absolutely amazing one.

For each show that I review I list three highlights and, it will be no different here, but I have to say, that very seldom, have I had so many highlights to pick from. Billy Yates’ great performance of the George Jones hit, I Don’t Need No Rocking Chair had special meaning to me on two counts. Billy co-wrote it and, to me, there’s something special about hearing someone perform a song they have written and, it was the last song I ever heard, Branson legend, Lloyd Presley perform. The performance of the Charlie Daniels’ hit, Devil Went Down to Georgia, featuring Melody Hart on the fiddle, Colt Prather, on the guitar, and Billy Yates on vocal, was one of the most powerful and exciting versions of that song I have ever heard and Danielle Peck’s performance of the Tammy Wynette hit, Stand By Your Man, was beautiful.

It ended all too quickly, and is a show that should absolutely not be missed. For additional information or tickets for Raiding the Country Vault, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit

Is Pokémon Go actually Branson’s most awesome new show or attraction?

The Branson Tourism Center is one of many PokéStops in Branson.

The Branson Tourism Center is one of many PokéStops in Branson.

“Well, not really, but it’s not because it is not one of the most popular things people are doing while in Branson right now,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. “It’s because Pokémon Go is not a Branson show or attraction, but a new game people play on their mobile phones as they are out and about searching for a ‘Pokémon,’” he added.

Since being introduced, less than a week ago, the growth of Pokémon Go, a new augmented reality exploration game that is played on mobile phones, has been nothing less than phenomenal. It’s a game that requires players to actually leave their homes and search for “Pokémon,” and that’s a plural thing, as in their numbers stretch into infinity. As they travel around Branson, or almost anywhere else, their phone will signal when “Pokémon” are near which will generally be near a “PokéStop” or “Gym.” Players “spin” and get rewards such as Pokéballs which can then be used to try to capture a Pokémon. There’s a lot more to the game than that, but, at least initially, the main objective is to capture “Pokémon.”

The neat thing is that playing the game can be done as an activity in itself, or as many do, played in conjunction with doing other things and deciding if and when to respond to a Pokémon sighting when their phone signals. The Branson Tourism Center (BTC) is a PokéStop, as are, we believe, many of Branson’s shows, attractions, and businesses. Connar Dougharty, one of BTC’s Branson based Travel Planners, who is playing the game, said that many of the people checking into BTC are playing the game and that they have noticed people “driving through” the parking lot stopping to play.

So, while Pokémon Go is an extremely popular activity  it’s just another thing that Branson visitors can enjoy along with everything else Branson has to offer. One never knows though, there might be a Pokémon waiting as you pull into the parking lot of a Branson theatre or attraction, but even if there isn’t, there will be fun, adventure, and excitement.

Is the heat of summer the right time to plan for Christmas in Branson?

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer leads the "Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade" during Silver Dollar City's "Old Time Christmas."

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer leads the “Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade” during Silver Dollar City’s “Old Time Christmas.” (Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City)

“Absolutely! To some, planning a Christmas trip to Branson in the sweltering heat of summer might seem weird,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “However, to those who know how busy Branson is during its Ozark Mountain Christmas season, planning in July might just be the ‘coolest’ thing to do to ensure the ‘hottest’ deals and best availability of lodging and show seats,” he added.

Garrison points out that Ozark Mountain Christmas, runs from November 1 through December 31 each year and that it is the most colorful, exciting, inspirational, and busiest time of the year in Branson. It is a unique Christmas experience that is not available anywhere else. From the giant Adoration Scene on top of Mount Branson on the East, to Silver Dollar City and its “Old Time Christmas” to the West, Branson is aglow with Christmas lights, shows, shopping and, most important of all, the true spirit of Christmas that “resonates in the hearts of those wanting to celebrate and experience the traditional celebration of Christmas.”

Silver Dollar City’s “Old Time Christmas” is perennially named one of the top Christmas destinations in America. It features 1,000 decorated Christmas trees, over 5 million sparkling Christmas lights, a 5-story Special Effects Christmas Tree in its town square, two Broadway style shows, and the “Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade featuring Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & Friends.”

Many of Branson’s other attractions will have special Christmas themes, decorations, and exhibits. Two great examples would be the Titanic Museum Attraction, as it celebrates its beautiful “Edwardian Christmas,” and the unique White Flight exhibit at the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure. Another is The Shepherd of the Hills’ Trail of Lights, a two-and-a-half-mile drive through sparkling holiday lights and displays, winding through the historic Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, that also includes a trip to the top of Inspiration Tower. It is truly a one of a kind display, featuring religious, patriotic, humorous, Victorian and other themes in a setting unlike any other lighting display anywhere.

The glow of Christmas lights doesn’t stop there, as Christmas decorations and lights adorn city utility poles, Branson Landing, the Branson Ferris Wheel, and many other Branson theatres, businesses, and attractions. A Branson tradition, since it was started in 1949, is the brightly lit giant Nativity scene on top of Mount Branson. It will be lit, and followed by the Adoration Christmas Parade, starting at 5:00 PM on December 4.

And, speaking of parades, you won’t want to miss the 4th Annual “Most Wonderful Time of Year Parade,” featuring many Branson entertainers. It’s dedicated to “Mr. Christmas,” Andy Williams, and will go down the center of the Branson Landing promenade on November 19 followed by “a dozen live performances from the main stage in front of the Branson Landing fountains and a special grand finale” not to be missed.

As would be expected, in a town famous for the variety and quality of its live shows, the vast majority of Branson’s shows share the spirit of Christmas by devoting a substantial portion of their shows to the celebration of the traditional Christmas. In addition, there are a number of shows that are only available during Ozark Mountain Christmas, that are totally Christmas including the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza, staring the Osmond Brothers and Lennon Sisters; Christmas Wonderland; the Hughes Brothers Christmas Show; and others.

“Branson’s year round world class shopping experience includes Branson Landing; a large variety of unique galleries, craft shops, boutiques, and specialty shops; as well as discount malls like the Tanger Outlets and The Shoppes at Branson Meadows,” Garrison said. “When you combine that with the fun, spirit and excitement, of Ozark Mountain Christmas, it’s easy to see why so many do their Christmas shopping in Branson,”.

He points out that during the regular season there are periods when Branson shows and lodging fill up, but that, particularly with the more popular hotels and shows, is multiplied exponentially during Ozark Mountain Christmas. Not only do the chances of non-availability increase, but the chances of getting the best prices, show seats, and choice of accommodations decrease the longer one waits to make their Ozark Mountain Christmas travel plans.

For additional information on Ozark Mountain Christmas, or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to 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 .

Can a swift thriller at Legends in Concert make a colossal ring of fire?

Legends in Concert stars Michael Jackson, Top Left, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Blues Brothers.

Legends in Concert stars Michael Jackson, Top Left, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Blues Brothers.

“Well, if it’s the summer of 2016 and Legends in Concert’s celebrating its 20th year in Branson, with a little help, that might just be a possibility,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. As I watched the Legends in Concert (Legends) show last week, I experienced first-hand what Garrison was alluding to and saw, among others, Legends in Concert tribute performances by Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson performing “Thriller,” and Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire.”

It is a colossal show, in terms of the number of tribute artists, band members, singers and dancers performing. Legends brings to the Branson stage the same level of production, talent, and excitement that its Las Vegas, “parent” has been providing since 1983 and its “siblings” are providing at such prime destination as Waikiki, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic City, and others.

From the very beginning, the hallmark of Legends in Concert has been the quality of its tribute artists. Each performer “not only looks like the star they portray, but uses their own natural voice to pay homage to their iconic music counterpart.” The six legends portrayed in the show I saw were “Kenny Chesney” performed by Todd Bradshaw, “Taylor Swift,” performed by Elizabeth Scarborough; the “Blues Brothers,” performed by Danny Z and Clint Nievar; “Michael Jackson,” performed by Michael Knight; “Johnny Cash” performed by Paul Eve, and “Elvis Presley,” performed by Travis Powell.

Each does a four or five number “set” amid a production making each, at a minimum, a wonderful distinctive concert, and most, especially Michael Jackson’s set, a mini production, unlike anything else offered in Branson. Although, just about every number in every set could be considered a highlight, I will mention just one from each set:

Kenny Chesney: The ballad “You Had Me From Hello” and how the audience was invited to come to the front of the theatre and dance, becoming part of their own entertainment experience.

Taylor Swift: “Never Ever Getting Back Together,” along with its introduction, was extremely entertaining both musically and in the way it was presented. The costume changes during the set were amazing!

Blues Brothers: “Soulman,” as was the case with every number during their set, was energetically performed with great support from the dancers, and some great moves by “Elwood.” Don’t know how these guys can do it, but they do and the audience loved it.

Michael Jackson: “Thriller,” with Knight’s performance and the special effects, dancers, and Michael’s “moves” was probably my WOW moment in the whole show, and that’s saying a lot because it is one great show and I am not a Michael Jackson fan.

Johnny Cash: Loved his performance of “Ring of Fire” and his introduction to it.

Elvis: “My Way” was beautifully done and has special meaning to me.

Some make the mistake of getting up and leaving after Elvis, but then they miss one of the highlights of the show, the whole cast Finale including “Viva Las Vegas.” It is something you definitely don’t want to miss!

As great as the individual tribute performers are, without great special effects, choreography, and costuming; along with a great band, and dancers and singers talented enough to not only perform different genres of music, but virtually perform six different “mini shows,” for six different stars, within one amazing production, this show would not be the great entertainment experience it is. It is their consistent performance show after show, star after star that, in this writer’s opinion, is the real “legend” behind the Legends in Concert show.

The Legend’s band is composed of Kevin Allen, Band Director / Lead Guitar; Brian Zerbe, Bass Guitar; Eddie Howard, Drums; and Lyman Clark, Keyboard. Legend’s dancers are Kenya Wilhite, also a singer; Desta Pritchett, also a singer; Cindy Dardas; Aaron Lemoine; and Landy Saavedra.

This is a show that totally entertains from start to finish with “legendary” entertainers, wonderful special effects, live music, dancers, and spectacular Las Vegas choreography and production. There’s nothing else like it anywhere else in Branson and is proof positive why Legends in Concert is billed as the “World’s Greatest Live Tribute Show.” For additional information or tickets for Legends in Concert, or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit