It’s no illusion the Illusionist Rick Thomas show is an amazing magical entertainment “10” your whole family will enjoy

Rick Thomas and assistant Tara Edgerton are a magical combination extraordinaire.

Rick Thomas and assistant Tara Edgerton are a magical combination extraordinaire.

The short and quick of it is, if you want to see one of the best magic shows to ever appear on a Branson stage you don’t want you and your family to miss the Illusionist Rick Thomas Show at the Moon River Theatre. In over 28 years of seeing magic shows in Branson I have never been as amazed or entertained by a magic show as I was by this show when I saw it on the night of May 23 with many of my peers from the Branson Tourism Center and the Branson tourism industry.

Rick and Lightening.

Rick and Lightning.

From the time the show starts until it ends with a “blast,” it is two hours of truly magical non-stop entertainment with a variety of illusions; close up magic; what I call “mind magic;” doves, dogs, color, brightness, dancing, music and action that will “knock your socks off.” The magic is illusionary, but the fun, excitement and enjoyment I experienced, and witnessed others enjoying was real.

There’s no aloofness or mystery here, just a man who obviously relates well to both adults and kids, getting them invested in the show early on and keeping them enthralled throughout. He is a master at his craft and just seems to be able to communicate to his audience that he is having so much fun doing what he is doing as he draws them into that fun. It is simply magical in its own right and adds so much to the excitement and enjoyment of the show.

With his beautiful and talented assistant, Tara Edgerton and dancers Shelley Tess-Webster, Jenna Perez, Sarah Tochtrop Thomas Gray, Lewis Darlington and Gareth Evans, he combines beautiful music and dancing with some of the “most intriguing and innovative Grand Illusions in the world” into a spectacular entertainment experience. Whether it was Rick performing one of his illusions, the dancers dancing or him working the audience, this fast paced show had me sitting on the edge of my seat marveling at what I had just seen and anxious to see what was coming next.

This is one of those shows that both adults and children can simultaneously enjoy together throughout. Kids and adults alike love the magic and the dancing and even on the couple of occasions when kids were brought up on stage to interact with him it was seamlessly done in a way that not only gave the children in the audience a chance to relate to their peers on stage, but enhanced the quality of the entertainment experience of the adults in the audience at the same time.

Because it is a magic show and surprise and awe is such a big part of its excitement I will not go into the specifics of the illusions except to say, “From birds and motorcycles to Lightning, seeing time stand still and from dogs to beautiful women you will be amazed and dazzled by the illusions of Rick Thomas as they come at you one after the other as part of this wonderful magical experience.

The start of the amazing,  unique "Air Adage."

The start of the amazing, unique “Air Adage.”

OK, I have to mention one. The “Air Adage” illusion with Tara dancing so gracefully high above the stage is as beautiful as it is amazing, not only from an illusion perspective, but from the grace and skill of the dancing itself. It is a unique one of a kind illusion that I will never forget and bet you won’t either.

I asked two of my compatriots from the Branson tourism industry who attended the same show, what they thought of it. “I’d rate it a ’10!’ said Megan Miller who has seen a number of magic shows in Branson over the years. When asked what she liked best Megan said that she liked the illusions involving the dog, the way he relates to the audience and the “blast” at the end of the show.

Noell Chapman, another Branson tourism professional, has also seen a number of magic shows in Branson over the years and when asked how she would rank it on a 10 point scale she said, “10 plus!” When asked what her one favorite part of the show was she said, “I loved the way they levitated into ‘the sky’ and gracefully floated above the stage like they were swimming in water, but there’s no water!” She said that she has never seen anything like it, highly recommends the show and would definitely recommend if for families with kids.”

For additional information or tickets for the Illusionist Rick Thomas Show 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.

Five great ways you can guarantee your family an amazing Branson hotel or resort experience

Part of the spacious relaxing grounds of the Welk Resort.

Part of the spacious relaxing grounds of the Welk Resort.

“From budget conscious motel rooms to luxuriously appointed suites and condos, it’s easy to find the perfect place to stay in Branson with your family on vacation,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Not only can you find the perfect place for you and your family to stay, but at a great value. ”

The following five hotels and resorts have all received excellent reviews from Branson Tourism Center (BTC) customers; represent a good cross section of the lodging available in Branson in terms of amenities, location and price and participate in Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program guaranteeing that the price you pay for your lodging accommodations will 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.

The properties are listed in alphabetical order along with links to more complete information and rates:

Grand Plaza HotelAt the “Grand Plaza Hotel,” you’ll enjoy a fabulous view of the Ozark Mountains. Centrally located, it’s just a block off the famed “Branson Strip,” right next to fantastic shopping at Tanger Outlets and near the great lineup of shows at the King’s Castle and Andy Williams Moon River Theatre. Its amenities include an incredible pool complex with an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness room, and game room.

Honeysuckle Inn & Conference CenterThe “Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center” provides exceptional Branson lodging. You’ll find an indoor pool, one of the area’s largest outdoor pools; kidney-shaped with both shallow and deep areas; an indoor hot tub, meeting space, and guest-accessible, beautifully landscaped grounds with flower gardens and a picnic table.

Lynina Inn  conveniently located  to all Branson offers on the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway.

Lynina Inn provides easy access to all Branson offers from its convenient Shepherd of the Hills Expressway location.

Lynina InnStay at Branson’s “Lynina Inn,” where hospitality is the number one amenity! Conveniently located on the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway near the IMAX Complex and Shoji Tabuchi Show, the knowledgeable staff takes great pride in making sure your stay is enjoyable! There are spacious rooms to fit every need, including deluxe or standard king and queen rooms and Jacuzzi suites, as well as a delicious complimentary breakfast.

Radisson HotelThe “Radisson Hotel” in Branson offers a wide range of amenities throughout this stunning property that recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. You’ll find a spectacular indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, and a top-notch fitness center as well as beautifully appointed, updated guest rooms. It is located within easy walking distance of the great lineup of shows at the King’s Castle and Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.

Welk Resort“Welk Resort” boasts a perfect location; close to all of Branson’s exciting activities yet located where you’ll find beautiful views of the Ozark Mountains and close to Table Rock Lake’s Moonshine Beach, Discover beautifully appointed rooms, a mini-golf course, a patio overlooking landscaped gardens, and an amazing 10,000 square foot “Splash-A-Torium” indoor water park! It is a full service resort, the home of the Welk Theatre, featuring Branson’s newest show, the Million Dollar Quartet and is located across the street from the Pointe Royale Golf Course.

Collin Raye to stir Branson hearts and souls with his irresistible country music

Collin Raye, Grammy winning country star who gets to the soul of country music.

Collin Raye, Grammy winning country star who sings to the soul of country music.

Jimmy Osmond, the new owner of the Moon River Theatre said that he is honored to be able to maintain and continue the tradition and legacy of Andy Williams by providing the type of entertainment that is consistent with the desire and love, his friend and mentor, had for Branson and the quality of entertainment it offered. Osmond said that there will be over 300 performances in the theatre this year including their outstanding lineup of “house shows” with Illusionist Rick Thomas, The Lettermen, Moon River and Me, and The Andy Williams Christmas Show; limited engagement performances from stars such as Loretta Lynn, Eamonn McCrystal and over a dozen others and “The Hits” series

“The Hits,” is a series of shows involving three award winning stars performing at different times through the rest of the year:

June 1 – Sep 19: The Hits starring Collin Raye
Sep 21 – 31: The Hits starring Mary Wilson
Oct 19 – Oct 31: The Hits starring the Osmonds

Osmond was excited about Collin Raye’s upcoming performances for the summer season. He said, “I’m so thrilled that Collin is playing our Theatre in Branson. I’ve been a fan and a friend of Collin for some time and I know it will be great for his fans to treat their families to the award winning HITS of his great Variety Show, along with the hilarious comedy of Two Time Comedy Magician of the Year, Chipper Lowell.”

It has been said, “Country music, at its core, is all about stirring the heart and healing the soul, and nobody does both better than the irresistible ‘Collin Raye.’” He has won a “Grammy,” nine combined awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association and has 20 Top Ten hits including songs such as, Love, Me; My Kind of Girl; In This Life; and I Can Still Feel You that all made #1 on “Billboard.”

Jimmy wasn’t the only one enthused about Raye coming to Branson. Collin said, “I am so excited to be in Branson this summer! A great destination of fun and entertainment for American families. Our show at the Moon River Theatre will be like nothing my fans have seen before. A variety of music, in a place where God and country still rule the day.”

“With the music of Collin Raye and the comedy and magic of Chipper Lowell, this will be a great show for the entire family,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. For more information on The Hits starring Collin Raye, or tickets, please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, http://www.bransontourismcenter.com/

 

No fiddling around, the Shoji Tabuchi show is amazing entertainment

Shoji Tabuchi playing "Listen to the Mocking Bird."

Shoji Tabuchi playing “Listen to the Mocking Bird.”

Shoji Tabuchi has said, “The fiddle and violin are the same instrument, their difference is how you ‘fiddle” around with them.” After seeing his show recently I can say, regardless of which instrument he is “fiddling around with,” from the first note to the last, it is simply a joy to listen to this master as he performs a variety of music ranging from “Live and Let Die,” the title song of the James Bond movie with the same name to “The Orange Blossom Special,” “Listen to the Mocking Bird,” a classical “Humoresque” and many styles in between.

If there was only Shoji that would be enough, but he is part of a production involving a live orchestra, singers and dancers, colorful costumes, beautiful choreography and excellent audience interaction. It is all superbly woven together into a two hour extravaganza of fast paced musical entertainment, by co-producers Dorothy and Christina Tabuchi that concludes all too quickly.

The dancers and vocalists, Alicia Winking, Robyn Hurst, Jeremy Sterling, Jonny Laughlin, Adam Henry and Norvin Breeck who is also the co-dance captain, are led by Shoji’s daughter, Christina Lingo-Tabuchi. She is also the show’s feature vocalist, vocal director, co-dance captain and the show’s co-producer. The versatility, talent and energy of these entertainers explodes onto the stage with a burst of energy and color as they open the show with “”Shake It Off” and, whether its dancing, singing a duet or playing the part of a cow, chicken or penguin, doesn’t let up until the curtain falls.

Christina Tabuchi, right and Alicia Winking during their performance of "Somethin' Bad."

Christina Tabuchi, right and Alicia Winking during their performance of “Somethin’ Bad.”

Christina Tabuchi, in addition to being the co dance captain, is the show’s featured vocalist and sings a variety of solos and duets throughout the show demonstrating the range of her vocal talents. Two of my favorites would be her duet of the Miranda Lambert/Carrie Underwood hit, “Somethin’ Bad,” with Alicia Winking and her solo performance of the Lee Ann Womack hit, “I Hope You Dance,” which was simply beautiful and was dedicated to her daughter.

The show’s band, composed of Duggie Dugan, director and guitar player; Landon Rolf, bass; Anthony Walter:, drums, William Green, percussion; John Turner, piano; Carl Hose, Trombone and Wes Smith, flute and sax; does a magnificent job, not only from an instrumental perspective but in supporting all the diverse elements of the show. Of many, a prime example would be the shows big band number “Fly Me To The Moon” featuring the band, Shoji and the singers and dancers.

Of course the star of the show is the incredible Shoji Tabuchi who has been delighting Branson audiences with his blend of showmanship and fiddle and violin mastery for over 30 years. Whether he is playing the fiddle, which he does for the majority of the show, or the violin, from the first to the last note of every piece it is obvious that you are hearing and seeing a master of his craft performing.

From country to rock and roll to Elvis, Led Zeppelin and Brahms he performs a variety of musical styles. It’s extremely unlikely that there will be a greater variety of music presented at any concert or show featuring an instrumentalist playing the “fiddle and violin” and it’s a virtual certainty that you won’t hear one do it better. From among many, my three favorites were, “Through the Eyes of Love” from the movie “Ice Castles; the classical segment with “Humoresque,” “Brahms Lullaby” and “Little Night Music” and his extremely entertaining version of the song that turned a young Japanese violinist into a master fiddle player, “Listen to the Mocking Bird,” which he first heard performed when Roy Acuff and his band did a concert in Japan.

Giant Japanese "Taiko Drum."

Giant Japanese “Taiko Drum.”

You will not want to miss the opening of the second half of the show, where the shows vocalists and dancers again demonstrate how multi-talented they are as, along with others, they open it with the “Taiko Drums,” from Shoji’s native Japan. Ten drummers play three different drums including the large “Odaiko” in a unique one of a kind performance. Make sure you watch the movements of the drummers on the smaller drums! Shoji plays “Sakura Sakura” and does a duet of “Sukiyaki,” with his daughter, Christina. The whole segment from the drums to the costuming and the music is something that will not soon be forgotten.

As I was watching the show I could not help but notice how much the group sitting just behind me was enjoying the show. At intermission I had a chance to chat with one of them, Jason Gillem, from Apple Valley, MN. He said that he was enjoying the show, would absolutely recommend it to others and that it was unique, energetic and reached out to all members of the audience.

Although an intangible, Shoji’s ability to relate to his audience, while playing, telling the story of how he came to be an American citizen or anyone of a variety of other anecdotes he shares periodically throughout the show, is an inherent part of the whole experience. As I have written before and would again ratify, “Simply put, Shoji Tabuchi is a master at his craft, loves what he does, relates to his audience not only on a musical, but personal level, surrounds himself with some of the best musicians, singers and dancers in Branson and stars in a unique, colorful and exciting one of kind entertainment production.”

For more information or tickets for the Shoji Tabuchi Show 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.

 

 

Material Connection

Six current Branson performers you might have seen on TV

Luke Menard, far right with "New South," David Ragan to his right,  Mark  McCauley and Drockelman.

Luke Menard, far right with the rest of “New South,” David Ragan to his right, Mark McCauley and Drockelman.

Branson visitors are blessed to be able to see many national stars, including Billy Dean, The Osmonds, Collin Raye, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Jimmy Fortune and many others whom they have probably seen on TV throughout their award winning careers. However, it would be impossible to offer the tremendous live entertainment Branson offers on a regular basis without the wealth of talent possessed by the many Branson performers who, although not blessed with national careers, are in many cases no less talented.

Just how talented is often reflected in how well they do, or have done, when they perform against literally thousands on national TV shows such as the prime time hits America’s Got Talent, American Idol and others. Let’s take a look at some who progressed beyond the preliminary rounds and where you may see them currently performing in Branson:

Jason Pritchard: Appeared on Season 2 of America’s Got Talent and made it to the Final 8.He is currently the band leader/guitarist for the “Steel Horses Band” and a featured vocalist in one of Branson’s most popular shows Billy Dean in Concert With Jarrett. In addition, he has “just released his first single, ‘Good Show’, off his upcoming EP ‘Independence Cowboy’ which was co-written by Billy Dean and is already climbing the charts!”

Luke Menard: Appeared on Season 7 of American Idol and was a Semi-Finalist. He is currently performing with one of Branson’s premier quartets “New South” in another of Branson’s most popular shows Grand Jubilee.

Jason Yeager: Also appeared on Season 7 of American Idol and was a Semi-Finalist. He is currently appearing on the Showboat Branson Belle, and is the vocalist for its “Celebrate Gold” show.

Texas Tenors: Were in the top four during Season 4 of America’s Got Talent. Although they have an extensive touring schedule, they perform throughout the year in Branson and their show, The Texas Tenors, is another of Branson’s most popular shows.

The Voices of Glory: Also appeared during Season 4 of America’s Got Talent finishing in 5th Place. They are currently appearing in their own Branson show, Ayo starring the Voices of Glory.

The Duttons: Appeared during Season 2 of America’s Got Talent, the season Terry Fator won, finishing in the top 10. The Duttons own their own theatre in Branson where they perform their extremely popular Duttons show during the regular Branson season.

Ok, we just have to add a seventh who most of you probably never saw on national TV because she was the first and did it before the current series of shows got started. That would be Ambrus Presley who, at the time was 13 and performed under her maiden name, Ambrus Smith, and won Ed McMahon’s “Next Biggest Star.” She had been performing, very successfully, in a variety of Branson shows since she was eight. Subsequently, Ambrus  started performing for Presleys’ Country Jubilee as a lead vocalist, where she is still performing today, married John Presley and is the proud mother of two boys Henry and Hank .

Here’s the facts you need to know about what’s “Buzzin in Branson” for you enjoy during June 2015

World famous Harlem Globetrotters featured at Silver Dollar City's "Star Spangled Summer Festival"

World famous Harlem Globetrotters featured at Silver Dollar City’s “Star Spangled Summer Festival” *

Buzzin in Branson” is a concise and easy to read list of the major events and activities taking place in Branson, Missouri during the month being “Buzzed,” which is June 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's newest show, the "Million Dollar Quartet," premiers on June 25.

Branson’s newest show, the “Million Dollar Quartet,” premiers on June 25.

Branson “Buzz of the Month for June 2015

The opening of Branson’s newest show, Million Dollar Quartet, limited engagement performance of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and the Harlem Globetrotters at Silver Dollar City’s “Star Spangled Summer Festival.”

The following list of major special events, shows and activities taking place in Branson during June 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:

Jun 1 – 30: The Hits Starring Collin Raye
Jun 1 -30: Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Jun 5 – 26: Buckets N Boards
Jun 6 – Jul 19: Star Spangled Summer Festival at Silver Dollar City
Jun 6: White River Valley Trail Trek
Jun 6: IMAX Smokin’ Summer Kickoff Party (417-335-3533)
Jun 6: Smokin Summer Kickoff BBQ Cook-Off (417-335-3533)
Jun 6: Afternoon Tea at The Keeter Center (417-690-2120)
Jun 12: The Dan Benton Band- Branson Landing (417-239-3002)
Jun 18 – Jun 20: Ozark Mountain Thunder Motorcycle Rally 2015
Jun 12 – 14: U.S. Bow Fishing Fair and Tournament
Jun 13: Craig Wayne Boyd
Jun 20 – Jun 2: Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson
Jun 20 – Jun 2:Titanic Museum Attraction Branson Father’s Day Boat Show
Jun 20: Etiquette Class at The Keeter Center (417-690-2120)
Jun 21: Father’s Day
Jun 21: Father’s Day Brunch & Car Show at Keeter Center
Jun 21: Father’s Day Brunch at Chateau on the Lake
Jun 21: Father’s Day Champagne Brunch at Chateau on the Lake
Jun 25: Opening Day of Branson’s newest show Million Dollar Quartet
Jun 27: 2015 Branson Dollhouse Miniature Show
Jun 28: Honor America Celebrate America 4th of July Celebration – College of the Ozarks

“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.

* Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City

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.

UIA150517

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 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.