Today was the start four days touring Branson and seeing many of the shows the town has to offer. The day started with a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, egg casserole, breakfast potatoes, oatmeal, French toast, bacon, and sausage. The one item on the buffet that amazed us all was all the delicious berries to choose from. There were raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cantaloupe.
We were back on the bus for a step on guided tour of the Branson area. Branson is a beautiful, rolling hill community. Our guide did a great job giving us a historical view of the area and how the city became one of the most visited entertainment centers in America.
Our first stop was the small country store called The Country Barn and Gift Shop. The shop was filled with crafts made by local artists, jams, jellies, fresh-made fudge. Outside were a myriad of glazed potters, stepping stones, lawn and garden art. The store owners were giving away samples of the fudge so, of course, Randy and I had to get a piece. I tried the peanut butter fudge. It was very good.
As we moved on to our next stop our guide told us that there were 45 theatres in Branson with 115 shows a day. We also learned that Branson was the home for the Global Resources for Environmental Education and Nature, dba National Tiger Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a non-for-profit organization established in 2000 to create a safe and protected environment.
From the store we moved on to take a look at Table Rock Dam that was built 1954-1958. The dam was built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Just below the dam is the Shepherd of the Hills fish hatchery which is according to their website, “the largest trout production facility in the Missouri Department of Conservation trout production program”.
Next stop was at the beautiful campus of the College of the Ozarks. Our guide shared with us that one of the more unique ideas behind this college, “There is no tuition, all students work on the campus. There are no federal, state or private loans; all monies are derived from private donations”. We spent time driving around the campus and then stopped to look a beautiful collection of orchids that had been donated to the campus by former student.
Then we were off to the town of Branson to grab a quick lunch. Lorraine asked our guide where we could go to get a cold beer. She directed us to Mr. G’s Chicago Style Pizza & Pub which was only a block away. That sounded great so, Randy, me, John and Lorraine headed in that direction. There were many choices that sounded good but I decided on an individual pepperoni pizza and a glass of Shock Top Belgian White draft beer. The
beer reminded me of a light version of Blue Moon with a slightly cloudy look
and the taste of orange. Both choices were perfect.
When we arrived there was only one waitress so it took some time to get our meals, consequently, we only had a short time to walk to the main street and find the candy store that was selling a foot of chocolate for .99 cents. We found the store and had to laugh. Randy had visions of a huge chunk of chocolate, it turned out to be just what was advertised, a foot of chocolate. We thought it was very funny. I ate one toe, Randy ate the rest.
We got back on the bus for a short ride to our first show at the Andy William’s Moon River Theatre to see the Daniel O’Donnell show. The show was entertaining with a variety of Country, Irish and holiday music. During the show O’Donnell asked all the veterans in the theatre to stand and be recognized. He followed up recognizing all the tours that were in the theatre as well. Yes, Del Webb was mentioned. It was a very pleasant way to spent an afternoon.
From there we were taken to Shorty Small’s Restaurant to enjoy a dinner of ribs, chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and peach cobbler. We had a great time talking about our day with John, Lorraine and Ron and Pat Buss.
Now, it was time for our second show of the day. We were taken to see the Clay Cooper Country Express show. What a fun show. The show started with a very funny ‘old’ man entertaining us with funny skits involving a walker, string and guitar. After he finished his skit, he revealed himself, not to be the old man he was portraying but a very young, talented man named Matt Gumm. Other entertainers included trick roper Johnny Lonestar, Clay’s son Colt Cooper and American Kids National Finalist ten-year-old Ezrah Noelle. What I, and many others, loved about this show was the star’s interaction with the audience. The show was filled with a variety of country, rock & roll, gospel, patriotic and Christmas favorites. Clay is a consummate entertainer and I loved the show.
It had been a long day. I was ready to head back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep but not until I stopped for a photo opportunity with Santa.
Tomorrow will be another busy day.