Missouri - Branson

by Kimp 1. June 2013 02:27

Photo Blog


One of the places Sam (my son) and I visited on Summer Vacation.
The first thing that you need to learn about Missouri is how to properly pronounce it.
It's not Mizz-er-ee, it's Mizz-er-ahhh. ?????
The second thing to learn about Missouri is that they were really confused during the Civil War. They had two state governments at the same time and sent delegates to both union and confederate congresses. They also had both sides claiming that Missouri was on their side. Sounds petty smart to me. They got funding from both sides, did whatever they wanted, and couldn't possibly lose.
My Dad always claimed to be from Missouri (the show me state), because he needed to be shown something, before he would believe it. In his words, "I'm from Missouri, you're going to need to show me that before I believe it!!!"
Ozark Mountains:
The Ozark Mountains are a place where the people from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and parts of Texas have visited for a very long time. In 1958 the town of Branson built a Dam across the White river that created a large man made lake named Table Rock Lake, near Branson.  Woods, mountains and a big body of water is red neck awesomeness. God obviously put that right at the top of red neck territory for a their pleasure. Red neck's have flocked to Table Rock Lake to vacation, ever since.

A worthless factoid about the Ozark Mountains is that they aren't really mountains. It's a plateau (say what?!?). Mountains are pushed up from the ground, and these were formed by erosion of land that was, at one time, a high plateau. You can tell, because if you pick any random peak and climb to the top of it, all of the other peaks that you can see, are at the same height. Similar to a canyon, but in a canyon a river created the erosion. These pseudo-mountains are nice, but not as scenic as real mountains in my opinion.

Branson History:
With all of the people vacationing and fishing in Branson, after Table Rock Damn was built. The Mabe brothers (Jim, Lyle, Bill & Bob) created a variety show called the BaldKnobbers (the name of an old Ozarks vigilante group), in a downtown Branson Theatre. Pictures I have seen of the old show, looked exactly like Hee-Haw in my opinion. In 1960 a nice outdoor Theatre named the Old Mill Theatre was built 10 miles away in the hills. They ran a very popular show based on a 1907 Novel "The Shepherd of the Hills", set in the Ozarks. Later this area came to be called "The Shepherd of the Hills".  In 1962, Paul Henning was on a boy scout trip in Branson and came up with the idea for the Beverly Hill Billy's television series. In 1968 Lloyd and Bessie Mae Presley (No relation to Elvis) bought 40 acres on a deserted asphalt road half way between Branson and the Old Mill Theater, built a theater there and created "Presley's Country Jubliee". One year later the BaldKnobbers built a theatre out that way and moved their show to it. All of the above is still going strong. The Presley mansion compound is in a valley, just behind their theatre.
That started the formation of Branson's strip (Rt 76). In 1983, Roy Clark built a Theater on the strip and started cycling celebrities through it. That's when Branson really took off.

As the gangster's were building Vegas to be Sin City. The red necks were building Branson to be Family City.

Today there are over 50 Theatre's with more crystal clean variety then you'll find anywhere. Along with the Theatres are a few museums, a decent sized water park, a decent sized go-cart park, lots of inexpensive places to eat and lots of classic red neck shopping.
I found the hotels to be priced reasonably and there are lots of inexpensive places to eat as well. The entertainment on the other hand was quite overpriced in my opinion, although, I did have great seats to some high quality productions. The prices when I visited may have been due to high production costs and low volume of visitor's during the recession.
Titanic museum:
The Titanic museum was outrageously priced. I've paid 1/4 of that to visit some of the world's best museums and its quality was sparse. There are not many Titanic artifacts (it's several miles under water), so they were capitalizing on a few artifacts from survivor's and some survivor stories. One of the rooms was made to look like it was out on the titanic deck and it was inside of a freezer to make it extra cold. That was a nice touch, but I can get the same effect from walking in a meat freezer. For me, I want to settle out of court for 3/4's of my money back.
Water Park:
Way overpriced if you are only going to visit one day (like we did), but maybe worth it if you get a multi-day pass and it's really hot out. In early June the water was still Mountain water cold. Looked like they had a nice wave pool, so Sam and I jetted over there first thing. Their was a count down sign that stated "4 Min. 28 Sec.'s until the waves start", and there was already a decent wave action in the pool. I thought, sweet, I'll bet this is going to be like one of those Red Neck wave pools, where it counts down to zero, then a big explosion blows the top off of the wave generator house and a giant red neck title wave comes out, draining the entire pool and washing away all of the women soaking up the sun on the loungers at the end of the pool. As it nears 0, I brace myself for impact, and, ..., ..., ..., nothing happens. I look around to see if anyone is trying to troubleshoot the problem when I realize the wave action has completely stopped. I look up and the count down timer and its back at "4 Min. 22 Sec's until the waves start." 5 seconds later the same lame wave action that was there when we arrived started back up again. Yep, this is a real red neck operation, sure enough. After that, we hit most of the water slides and left after about 2 hours. Some of the slides were nice.
If you get RFD-TV (Rural Free Delivery) out of Omaha Nebraska on cable, then you can watch many of Branson top act's on TV.
The HayGood's show:
I choose this show because it appeals to the teenage crowd and I thought Sam might enjoy it.  
The HayGood's are a large musically inclined family from Boerne, Texas, who traveled the fair circuit performing, then settled in Branson about 20 years ago, when their kid's were still quite young.  Their show reminded me of the Donnie and Marie Osmond show (a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll), only with all of the Osmond brothers as well. Out of something like 10 kid's, there were 5 brothers and 1 sister in the show. There was also a black brother on the drums that was exceptional, but I don't think he was related to the others. They all play multiple instruments, sing and are very talented. In my opinion Catherine was one of the best musician's and the most modest. I believe that they owe much of the successes of their show to Dominic, the brother who is the musical director. Excellent job on his part. Dominic is pretty good at gymnastics as well. He did a very fast unassisted flip off of the stage and landed it hard. I gave that at 10.  
They role play a lot to give their show some theatre quality. My favorite role was one called BingoBoy which was played by Timothy. BanjoBoy is a kid that gets picked on because he plays Banjo,  later he retaliates in several different devious and mischievous ways.
I only saw one minor negative that isn't worth mentioning. I recommend this show for anyone. Nice clean energetic act with a lot of hard working young talent.
Old Mill Theatre (outdoor) production:
The finest outdoor theatre production, in my opinion is BlueJacket, in Xenia Ohio. BlueJacket is based on a true Shawnee Indian Chief (he was really a Dutchman), who defeated the frontier settler's twice just after the revolutionary war. It's action packed, has real Indian's in it and would be very hard to top, in my opinion.
Old Mill Theatre produces an adaption of a 1907 novel written by Harold Bell Wright (Shepherd of the Hills), which is a fictional story inspired by his visits to the Ozark's, in the late 1800's.  It was very nicely done, of good quality and entertaining. Study up on BaldKnobber's (the real one's not the musical group), cause it will help you understand part of the plot. Other then that, it was pretty straight forward and easy to follow, even for a Yankee.
Ozark Dinner Mystery Theatre:
The last show that we saw was an Ozark Dinner Mystery Theatre. It was low budget both in food and production, but entertaining none the less. As murder mysteries go, it had a crazy plot where anyone could plausibly have committed the murder's. I am guessing they switch up the ending every night, so picking the right person, is largely luck of the draw. I happened to pick the right person, but since I can't remember character's names,  I wrote down the wrong name. First prize that night was a 2013 corvette. I was pretty bummed out at my mistake, until I found out it just a matchbox car.
Downtown Branson:
The downtown area is a nice piece of late 1800's classic Americana for the most part. The waterfront was revitalized around 2005 and I have to give them an A+ on it. A very large, nicely done, pedestrian only area.
The only negative to the downtown area, is that some worthless politician(s), let the Hilton build a huge hotel/conference complex in an area that should not have been zoned for it. It's too close to the historic section and looks like a huge, expensive, very out of place, turd. 



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