Valdosta Daily Times

Features

June 2, 2013

The other Branson

Missouri’s music city has more than songs to offer

- — Branson, Missouri, remains one of the Midwest’s most popular vacation destinations. Families flock there during the summer months while busloads of seniors inundate the town during the spring and fall. In recent years, the Christmas season has become increasingly popular with travelers who visit to see the decorations and enjoy holiday-themed shows.  

Most of the town’s 8 million annual visitors are attracted by 100 live shows that are offered in over three dozen theaters. Branson’s theaters are of relatively modest size and ticket prices are typically in the $30 to $35 range, a bargain compared to most towns known for entertainment. It isn’t unusual for Branson visitors to take in a half-dozen or more shows during a stay of several days.  

There is more to Branson than live theater entertainment. The town is nestled in the scenic Ozark Mountains that offer a variety of outdoor activities. In addition, visitors arriving primarily for the entertainment have generated a market for an expanded array of attractions. And, of course, there is Silver Dollar City, the 1880s theme park that opened in 1960 and initially made this area such a popular tourist destination.

Branson’s History

The Branson area has attracted tourists for many years. Named by businessman Ruben Branson who penned his family name on an application for a U.S. Post Office branch, this scenic mountain region along the White River had become a popular fishing destination by the late 1800s. Shortly thereafter, tourists began arriving to experience the area’s first attraction, Marvel Cave (initially called Marble Cave) that opened for public tours in 1894. Visitation picked up following the 1907 publication of “The Shepherd of the Hills,” Harold Bell Wright’s novel about the self-reliant folks of this region. Others came to swim, boat, and fish in Lake Taneycomo following construction of the Ozark Beach Dam in 1913. A second dam constructed in 1959 formed Table Rock Lake from which cold water flows into Lake Taneycomo, that became a haven for trout fishermen.  

That same year, the Mabe brothers, now known as the Baldknobbers, began performing in Branson, and the initial outdoor production of “The Shepherd of the Hills” was staged. The following year, the Herschends, who were operating Marvel Cave, opened the first attractions of Silver Dollar City, an old-time Ozark village that included shops, craftsmen, music, and a tourist railroad.  

The first theater on Highway 76, Branson’s “theater row,” was constructed in the late 1960s. Over the next two decades, a number of well-known entertainers began building theaters and performing in Branson and by 1991 the town boasted 22 entertainment venues. In December of the same year, something happened to launch a tidal wave of growth: Popular television news show “60 Minutes” aired a story that named Branson the “live music capital of the entire universe.” Tourists flowed into the area and the number of theaters soon doubled. Hotels, motels, restaurants, attractions, shopping centers, and golf courses followed.  

Text Only
Features
  • Pompeys Pillar.JPG Pompeys Pillar

    Along their journey west to the Pacific and return east to St. Louis, Lewis and Clark left numerous marks recording their presence in order to validate a claim to the land for the United States.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • 1vsusr2014.jpg seen.yer-shoh

    Two of the most revealing exhibits each year at the Valdosta State University Fine Art Gallery are the fall and spring senior art shows.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Film Review Draft Day_Rich copy.jpg ‘Draft Day’ scores a field goal at the theater

    Our reviewer looks at the movies "Draft Day'" and "Rio 2."

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • emerging1.jpg Emerging Artists: VSU shines spotlights on student performers

    Three years ago, Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance created a twist on its seasons’ conclusions.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • bicycle safety.jpg SGMC, Kohl’s to host Bike Smart safety event

    SGMC, Kohl’s Department Store, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and Safe Kids Lowndes County will host Bike Smart!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140410-AR-Wake_Compound001.jpg Bringing wakeboards to Lowndes

    In college, many dream of their future career paths and, while some may seem far fetched, some people are able to make theirs a reality. Luke Tilt and Quinn Silvernale were able to do just that.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140401-Ballet003.jpg Beautiful Dancers

    The Ballet School in Valdosta offers children with special needs the chance to live out their dreams of being a dancer. For many, this may have seemed like a far fetched dream given their physical limitations, but as the Ballet School proves, there is no such thing as a physical limitation.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • Dido and Aeneas 1.jpg VSU Opera, Chamber Singers Present ‘Dido and Aeneas’ April 19-20

    The Valdosta State University Department of Music will present “Dido and Aeneas” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, in the West Hall Rotunda. Seating is limited to 100 people per performance.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film Review Captain A_Rich copy.jpg A salute to ‘Captain America’

    Our reviewer looks at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," 'The Grand Budapest hotel' and "Bad Words."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • easter eggs.jpg VLPRA hosts ‘Egg-ceptional Egg Hunt’ Saturday

    Easter egg hunts are an old tradition, but this Saturday, the Therapeutic Division of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority is putting a new spin on it.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results