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Old 12-28-2004, 12:22 PM   #1
Cheesecake
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Talking Hooked On Branson..How About You? What's Your Story?

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Hooked On Branson For 32 Years: One Visitor Tells WhyBy Kenneth L. Kieser

I’ve seen many changes in Branson since I first started visiting in 1973. The Highway 76 “strip” had remarkably talented local entertainers that drew good-sized crowds back then. Names like The Presleys, The Baldknobbers, The Foggy Mountain River Boys and others produced down-home flavors of music and comedy. But these excellent shows were not the magnets that drew me back time and again to write numerous newspaper and magazine articles about Branson.

Trout fishing in Lake Taneycomo has created countless grand memories for me and inspired some pretty good stories. My favorite experience was fly-fishing in the wade-in area below Table Rock Dam on one cool October night. An intense fog made my eyes useless. We caught and released several big trout that night. Yet, I can say that this remarkable trout fishing is not the magnet that still draws me back.

Silver Dollar City was a unique adventure in the early 1970’s. Groups of us traveled from Kansas City to ride on the train, Fire in the Hole and the Flooded Mine on several occasions. I rode Fire in the Hole at least 10 times on one particular summer day. Young and old alike still enjoy these rides and many new ones. But they are not my magnets.

“The Shepherd of the Hills” outdoor drama tied my Ozark experience together and still does. Skilled actors and actresses portray the residents wrought with drought and suffering living among the ancient hills Harold Bell Wright discovered and wrote about in his 1907 novel of the same name. Yet he brought out the warm and loving spirits of these hardy settlers who fought daily to feed their families. He introduced people of substance to the world. His remarkable book helped give Branson an identity of strength and honesty. I have enjoyed this production several times, but no, that is not my magnet either.

The family-run music show scene started changing in the early 1980s. Roy Clark was the first nationally-recognized entertainer to open a theater on the strip in 1983. During an interview I did with him at that time he said, “I love to see everyone having a good time at my shows. I predict that more theatres will open here. This is a great place to perform.”

The late BoxCar Willie shared the same admiration for Branson in an interview in 1989. “I love the Branson area,” he said. “I had traveled through here many times and the area continues to grow. For the last 10 years we have been playing in every music hall and fair across America. This exposure gave us the popularity to do real well in Branson.”

Throughout the 1990’s, I interviewed Glen Campbell, Freddie Fender, Yakov Smirnoff, Shoji Tabuchi, Danny Davis and several others who told me they loved playing to Branson’s large audiences. Jim Stafford was one of my favorites. This is a quote from a 1995 interview:

I was interested in this place the day I discovered Branson. I wanted to move here and finally did. This is the place where people come to see live shows. I would rather do live appearances.

I spent some time with 80-year-old Lloyd Presley in October of 2004. His family opened the first theater on the strip back in 1967 when the main theme in Branson entertainment was down-home hillbilly country music and humor. I watched Lloyd perform with four generations of his family. This excellent show of comedy and music lasted slightly over two enjoyable hours. While the songs have changed, the format of the show is basically the same as it’s always been -- country music and comedy. It’s the quality of the Presleys’ show that has improved tremendously over the years. How appropriate that this pioneer family of the modern-day Branson live show industry is still standing among the huge celebrity headliners. The Presleys’ show continues to hold its own in a venue of awesome competition. The entertainment in Branson is second to none, but that still is not my magnet.

The west section of the strip in the 1970’s ended about where the La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant is now located. Only one business was located between there and The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. This old run-down building was owned by Chick and Grace Allen. They attracted motorists’ attention with a full-sized scaffold, complete with hangman’s noose. The sign read, “Last Man Hung in Missouri.” That sure got my attention. I had to stop and see what they had to offer.

The Allens were warm, friendly folks who enjoyed visiting with their customers and curiosity seekers. I first walked in their door on a chilly day and was invited to sit by a well-stoked potbelly stove to “warm my bones. “

I developed a friendship with the Allens and made their place a routine stop until several years later when both of these wonderful folks were killed in a car accident.

Everywhere I go in Branson, still today, I experience the same kind of hospitality extended to me by the Allens all those years ago. Through all the changes I’ve seen in Branson over the past 32 years, and even with all the changes yet to come, I believe Branson will always be a down-home place where I’ll be invited in to ‘warm my bones’ on chilly days. The Allens are no longer there, but their legacy lives on, and that is the real magnet that keeps drawing me back.

(Kenneth Kieser is an award-winning writer in Olathe, Kansas with several hundred magazine and several thousand newspaper articles to his credit. His stories about Branson have recently appeared in the Missouri Conservationist (“Missouri's Brown Trout Hatchery,” Nov. 2003), The Independence and Blue Springs Examiner, Wheelin' Sportsman's Magazine, 50 and Better Magazine, the Labor Beacon and Ultimate Outdoors Magazine. He is listed in the Who's Who of American Authors. He is an active member of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and the Missouri Outdoor Communicators.)
http://www.explorebranson.com/whatsn...2004#article_2
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Old 12-30-2004, 11:26 AM   #2
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Cool Hooked on Branson for 32 years

You never did said what really got you to come to Branson==We would like to know.
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Old 12-30-2004, 11:29 AM   #3
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I live in the area.........I have no story.


lol...........how about you?
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Old 12-30-2004, 04:17 PM   #4
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Mom and Dad found it years ago and they fell in love with the area, lakes, shopping, shows, festivals and it carried over to me. I still love the area and hope to get moved down at least to Springfield where I can be closer. Have watched many changes over the years, some good, some not so good, and some I'll hold opinions until later. But I think the love of the area is the one thing that keeps bringing us back. Small town charm in lots of ways that continues today!

To quote Collin Raye -- "that's my story and I'm stikkkkking to it!"

Vickie
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Old 01-01-2005, 06:58 PM   #5
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Cool live in Arkansas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheesecake
I live in the area.........I have no story.


lol...........how about you?
I have being going to Branson for a long time. The first time was about 1972 I had a 5 year old boy and a 9 year old girl. my husband and I have being coming started in 1987 to 1994=went to nashville in 1995= We have been going to Branson every year(1995 through this year).We live in Monticello. I like your cow its very cute.
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Old 01-02-2005, 08:10 AM   #6
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My hubby talked me into going in 2001, never thought that I'd like Branson...boy was I wrong! I love it down there!!!
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Old 01-07-2005, 10:22 AM   #7
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I made my first trip to Branson in September of 95 and I have been hooked every since. I made numerous trips up until Spring 01. After a long hiatus, I made my latest trip this past December. Branson is the only place that when I visit, I never want to go home. There is just something special about the town and the people. I have a long way to go before retirement but it is something I have been thinking about. I'm single and doesn't look like that is going to ever change and I am an only child whose parents aren't in good health. I may need a new place and a new start in a few years and Branson is an option for me.
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Old 01-07-2005, 09:36 PM   #8
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PamPam, I think that SouthWest Missouri in general; and Branson in particular is a very nice area to live.
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Old 01-08-2005, 01:03 PM   #9
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My husband and I have been going to Branson since 1989. We go at least seven times a year, generally more. We live three hours away, so it's easy to run up there for a weekend of R&R. In fact, we were there last weekend, and we just relaxed, ate out a couple of times, went to church, and enjoyed the peace and quiet. This was the first time we had ever been there and not gone to a show. We plan to go back in January and February before the season starts.
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Old 01-14-2005, 07:16 AM   #10
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My story...

I didn't even know Table Rock Lake existed (and I'm born and raised in Missouri) until 1995 (all I knew was Lake of the Ozarks...which doesn't hold a candle to Table Rock and Taneycomo). After one visit in 1995, I fell in love with the area. It has always felt "like home". After my hubby died, I had our 30 ft travel trailer moved to a Branson campground and made the trip every weekend from St Louis.

Eventually, I just flat out moved to Springfield area and taught school, but since have left that to work independently on web site maintenance and databases. We (new "better half") now have sort of a "dual citizenship" with Springfield and Branson and planning to move totally to Tri-Lakes area within two years, maybe even this year.

Love the lakes, the shows, the restaurants, the people, the cities, the fishing, the camping, low cost of living...what more can I say.

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Old 01-14-2005, 05:02 PM   #11
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Welcome to the Board, Auxarcsfanatic!
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Old 01-26-2005, 04:02 PM   #12
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I started coming to Branson when I was 6 months old. My parents started taking us there just to get away for a weekend and have family time. I have lived in Tulsa all of my life. We always stayed at different cabins on the lake and went to Silver Dollar City. It has just been a tradition.

I lived in Springfield and went to college for a couple of years and ever since then my wife and I have had season passes to SDC. We just enjoying the time away from everything. Everyone makes you feel at home and it's just a happy place.

Now that I am 26 and have a child of my own we enjoy coming to Branson from Tulsa at least 4 times a year. We took our son to SDC when he was 4 weeks old. We hope to start the tradtion with him.


It's a great family place.
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Old 01-26-2005, 05:27 PM   #13
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I agree! Branson is a happy place, and it makes us happy to be there. We feel so good when we are there, and we are sad to leave. I guess that's why we go to Branson so often. We like to go for four or five days to "just get away."
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Old 01-31-2005, 12:00 AM   #14
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What a wonderful chance to speak up

Oh boy.....I have to think back as to why Im hooked on Branson...especially being 29 years old..and been maybe about 6-8 times at most..

What first drug me to Branson....I had no choice in the matter..I was REALLY Young..and thats where my parents went (I thought why the not, I can vacation without them when Im 5 years old..heh)

At the young age..I noticed HOW relaxing Branson can be....no matter how much stuff you are doing.. and it still has that effect. the air is clean no matter what..the people are friendly no matter what (heck...the trip we did in 2003...we were at Stone Hill..in line getting collectors glasses..and someone ahead of us noticed it..and took a coupon out of their book they had for discounts to get the glasses really cheap...and gave it to us...we didnt ask...make conversation before hand...or anything..just pure kindness...)....heck...you can feel safe down there...Normally I wouldnt feel safe with a computer in the car up here in St. Louis...but I had mine in the car during my last trip...and went on the pirate cruise..with no problems at all.

Best way to describe my feelings why Im hooked...Im going to cut and paste some previous posts..:

*****
Well...since everyone else is adding a TOP TEN list..I thought I would..Ill do a TOP TEN..of my favorite stuff last time I was in Branson (and you have followed my posts lately..it was the early 90's)..

In no Particular Order cept #1


1: Sammy Lane Pirate Cruise
2: Sammy Lane Resort
3: Fisherman's Roost
4: The Baldknobbers
5: Mr. B's Ice Cream
6: Long's Wax Museum
7: The Ducks
8: The Arcades
9: The Shopping
10: Sammy Lane Pirate Cruise (yes..I know twice)

I loved it when I went..I have a record of 18 times on the Pirate Cruise in one week..

alot of my childhood will be gone soon....we would arrive in Branson....go straight to where we were staying...Sammy Lane Resort..(always thought it was fun..but wondered how people during the winter can go down the hill to get to downtown)...one of the things I looked forward to was night time there..looking at the candle on the cliff...(found out from my parents tonight..that we ALWAYS went there...never anywhere else...til now...I have tons of fond memories..like the Anniversary games the owners used to do, Going there with my Uncle one time..RIP (a few years before he passed away), etc...I can even remember some toys that were bought while out there...at one trip or another from the late 70's to Early 90's....Gilligan's Island Toy Set, Invisible Man model, Luke Skywalker Star Wars Toy, a Treasure Island Bucket/Shovel set, Lone Ranger playset, TONS of trading cards, tons of Sammy Lane Pirate Stuff, etc)

Going to Eat at Dimitris..and also going with my parents to Fisherman's Roost...one of the few bars in the town...

always loved renting a Pontoon boat and going out on the lake for a few..hours...just taking in the scenery...and RELAXING..which you cant relax anywhere else like you could in Branson....not in Hannibal, not in Florida, NO WHERE..

Going to such places as Mr. B's Ice Cream, the Candle Shop, and the Old trading post and 5 and 10 were all great things as well...

The Docks were always fun....in the late 70's...there was a few more docks than there where last..time....a BIG arcade one..which was cool..(hated to hear of the time it got struck by lighting)...and always loved to buy those little black pop/cork guns...(and still will next time I go if I can find em)

Some of the shows I loved and remembered were ones like the Baldknobbers, Presleys, THE PLUMMER FAMILY (tell me someone else remembers them...which the funny thing is...little did I know that 18 or so years later..I would get in the pro-wrestling business and manage someone named Couzin Zeke)...Waltzing Waters, etc

Also loved such places as The Ducks, Longs Wax Museum (read another post I made where I made comments of the Elvis and the Incredible Hulk statues there), Roadsters U Drive (HOW did people ever like riding in the rumble seat of those), the Arcades (I think Thunder Road was one..if its still around)...

I have few memories of SDC....was never a high priority of going to...but I do remember one time chickening out going into the Haunted Tree House (which I dont think is there anymore..but this was the late 70's..)

You know what...when I decided to finally come back in 2003..with my new wife..and her 2 little brothers (I feel better going to arcade and fun parks with kids..instead of just myself..heh)...I wrote out a budget and plan and everything (yes...over a YEAR in advance...but then again..when I was planning on staying at Sammy Lane..I knew I had to make Reservations by November...to insure availability)..and the cool thing is ...I guessed the prices EXACTLY...even before I got current prices from websites and such.. and I still have everything planned out (June 5th - June 15th is the time frame...with the 5th being in Springfield...we are fooling her brothers..we are telling them we are going to Texas..stopping at Springfield...a small detour in Branson to see the lake..and then off to Texas..the surprise is we are STAYING in Branson..Im a little sneak..hehe...but heck.. I even have Dimitris and Sammy Lane Pirate Cruise on the list...ok...the pirate cruise on the list every DAY)

Some of the things I had on my list to do...I wont be able to now...like Stay at Sammy Lane Resort, go to Fishermans Roost..and HAVE A DRINK (since Im 26 now), go to Dimitris (have to do the fancy gourmet restaurant thing)...Long's Wax Museum, etc...Ive added the Hollywood one to my list..but the rest are in the past.....Sorry...Im a nostalgic person...I still like the cartoons of the 80's like He-Man, She-Ra, etc... Im hoping the hotel I decided to possibily try (Best Western Rustic Oak) has TNN on their cable...CANT and WONT miss Wrestling on Monday (hey Branson Mom...if B Dad likes Wrestling and has cable...maybe we can work out something..heheh..).....but Im still going to do some of the others..like Mr.B's, Sammy Lane Pirate Cruise, etc

Hope the chocolate shop is there there too....something from the 70's..I remember one place selling chocolate Dolly "busts" on the stick (and trying to stay within the board guidelines...I dont mean just her HEAD...but you know..when you are 7 or so years old..you remember some stuff like that..heheh..)....

Anyway...I rewrote my budget and such...and am going to sit down and still consider going...will have to get done with the wedding first in June to start saving for it..

Well..that was my memories...hope everyone liked them..and if any comments...feel free to add to and tell me what about these you may remember...
*****

just the lil things and the home feeling...(of course tradition and memories that are made) is what gets people hooked...they just need to get past the "Old folk, gospel music" ideal they think it is..which its not..


Tim
aka The Mat Maniac
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Old 01-31-2005, 11:48 AM   #15
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Old Memories of Branson

My first trip to Branson was with my parents, I was a teenager, back in the 70s. I remember my Dad getting so frustrated with the one lane traffic on 76. We would always eat at the Rustic Oak Restaraunt. Back then the show tickets were like $6 and $7 dollars. Remember the Bob-O-Links? Honeymooned in Branson in '85. Then in '97 we moved about 35 miles from Branson, for my husbands job. I never dreamed I would get to live so close to a place that I love as much as Branson. God sometimes gives us the desires of our heart.
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