Branson, Missouri is diving into the summer season, and this year, it’s making the biggest splash ever! When the summer sun heats up, it’s time for summer fun. Luckily, Branson is located in the midst of the Tri-Lakes area which boasts three supreme lakes, including Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Taneycomo. Providing the perfect way to cool down, these beautiful Branson lakes also allow visitors to heat their summer fun by taking part in swimming, water sports, fishing and many other lake activities.

Table Rock Lake is by far the most popular lake, as it is very close to Branson attractions but still far enough away to make you feel like you’re really experiencing the Ozarks. Table Rock Lake also has several marinas, including the Table Rock State Park Marina, where visitors can rent ski boats, pontoons and other water sports craft. The Table Rock Dam is also a sight to see, as is the Fish Hatchery and Dewey Short Visitor Center. With over 750 miles of shoreline and around 45,000 acres of lake surface, there is plenty of room for everyone to stay and play at Table Rock Lake.

Bull Shoals Lake is another lake touting summertime fun and relaxation. Located to the east of Branson, this lake is a haven for both fisherman and water enthusiasts. It has numerous spots to swim where the water is deep enough for rock jumping, and the crystal clear water is perfect for divers and snorkelers. With a variety of access points and numerous places to reel in the catch of the day, Bull Shoals Lake is a beautiful oasis in the Ozarks.

The third lake, Lake Taneycomo, is a world class trout fishing lake, making it a must for any fisherman. Stocked annually with approximately 750,000 10-12″ rainbow trout, Lake Taneycomo is a cold water lake attracting the best fishing in the Ozarks. Along with its great fishing opportunities, Lake Taneycomo is also a sight to see. It is accessible from multiple points throughout the area, including the famous Branson Landing. Another highlight of Lake Taneycomo is the available fishing guide services, boat rentals, and water sports fun such as canoes and kayaks.

The Tri-Lakes area and Branson go hand in hand. The beauty of Branson is elevated by the scenic, natural elements of the lake and the lakes are complemented by the environmentally friendly way Branson has developed. In addition to the lakes, summer fun in Branson also includes popular Branson shows and Branson attractions. Silver Dollar City and White Water are two hot weather favorites, and there are several hotels near Silver Dollar City. Plenty of lodging is available in Branson, however, complete with pet friendly Branson properties and discounted Branson hotels.

The #1 best selling aluminum fishing boats in the world will be on display when The Titanic Museum Attraction launches its Father’s Day Boat Show in the Titanic parking lot on Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14, 2008 from 9 a.m. to7 p.m., it was announced by museum attraction owner, John Joslyn.

This special Father”s Day event will salute the man-of-the-house who may be dreaming of owning his first fishing boat or looking to move-up to something different, like a Suntracker pontoon boat, the official pontoon boat of Walt Disney World. Other Tracker boats on display will be Nitro bass boats and Tahoe sport boats

“It’s a time for celebration,” say Joslyn, “Tracker Marine is celebrating 30 years of building boats in the Ozarks and the Titanic Museum Attraction is celebrating its 3rd year honoring those who built and sailed the biggest boat of them all, Titanic.”

This free, family-day event will be held in the shadow of the great Titanic where tours are conducted daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

The World’s Largest TITANIC Museum Attraction is the new landmark family destination in Branson, Missouri. In two years of operation it has welcomed more than 900,000 guests aboard. The 17,000 square-foot, ship-shaped structure – built half-scale to Titanic’s original size – towers more than 100 feet above its anchored position on Highway 76. A 90-minute self-guided or optional audio tour covers 20 galleries on two decks where more than 400 priceless artifacts are on display that once belonged to Titanic’s passengers or crew.

Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce

Everyone in America knows and loves the story of Noah, with its flood, its ark and its animals marching in two-by-two. On May 24th the Millennium Theatre in Branson, Missouri, raised the curtain on “Noah—The Musical,” featuring more than 40 actors, along with 75 live animals and 75 animatronic ones. Branson, one of the great musical capitals of America, has no shortage of theatres, but the new Millennium is its largest building and the country’s largest Christian theatre.

The cast, animals and robots included, performs on a 330-foot (100-metre) wrap-around stage in a 339,000-square-foot building. The theatre’s dome, which resembles an ancient temple, can be seen from many points around Branson’s rolling surrounds. The huge complex has its own training facility and indoor zoo for zebras, camels, donkeys, llamas and even skunks. The animals are trained to handle stage lights, applause and music. Some beasts parade down the theatre’s aisles to board the four-story ark.
Branson has more than 50 theatres featuring an array of acts, from old crooners like Andy Williams to Yakov Smirnoff, a Russian comedian. But none is like the Millennium, which is owned by Sight and Sound Theatres in Pennsylvania. The theatre has its own generators so that if local electricity cuts out, the show will go on. Near the stage is a green room for the animals where they will be dressed in their costumes. The musical will run for two years before the company adds new shows, on other biblical themes.
Branson is a logical spot for the spectacle. The town of 7,000 got its touristy start with “The Shepherd of the Hills,” based on a 1907 feel-good novel that brought visitors from around the country to the Ozark mountains. Today the play is America’s longest-running outdoor drama. Tiny Branson manages to attract 7.2million tourists a year and is reachable within a day’s drive by half of the country’s population. Although tourism hasn’t slowed as much in Branson as other parts of the country, that could change because of rising petrol prices. But Branson hopes that Noah and his ark will keep the town afloat during the summer months.
Information & Image courtesy of The Economist

Come home to the Heartland in Branson and celebrate two of America’s greatest traditions during The Bluegrass and BBQ Festival at Silver Dollar City. See the biggest names in Bluegrass music from award-winning favorites to red-hot rising stars throughout this 23 day event. Enjoy 3-time Grammy Award-winning artists the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in a special concert on May 30! Plus, 6-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Rhonda Vincent comes home to Silver Dollar City May 11-13, 2007, IBMA Entertainers of the Year The Grascals return May 25-29, and 2008 Grammy Nominee Cherryholmes will perform May 26-28.

“Silver Dollar City reaches hundreds of thousands of fans each year making it one of the most significant and vital presenters of live bluegrass music anywhere in the world.” – Dan Hayes, Executive Director of the International Bluegrass Music Association.

For over 30 years the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been entertaining audiences, gathering numerous Grammy Awards and #1 hits along the way. See this once-in-a-lifetime concert May 30 at 7 p.m. in Silver Dollar City’s Echo Hollow® Amphitheatre.

Their Will the Circle Be Unbroken series united living legends with contemporary artists and garnered multiple Grammy nominations. Listen to a sample of these landmark albums and learn more about the band’s remarkable journey when you visit the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s official website.

The 2nd Annual Single Mic Championship will be held May 17 & 18. Watch amateurs and professionals duel for top honors in this exciting musical style.

Back by popular demand, the Youth In Bluegrass Band Contest will be held May 24 & 25. See tomorrow’s top stars storm the stage with tight, family-style harmonies. The Youth In Bluegrass Band Contest is sponsored by KSMU.

NEW in 2008 – Chris Jones from Sirius Radio will host the Sirius Bluegrass Concert Series May 26 – 28. Hear The Grascals, Dailey and Vincent Band and Cherryholmes on The Opera House stage, then tune in to hear interviews with the artists taped during their appearance at Silver Dollar City. Check our show schedule for concert times online, or when you visit.

Continue to watch the website for a complete lineup of festival performers and contest details as they become available.

House of BBQSavor the aromas and flavors of an all-American favorite at The House of BBQ!
Try the nation’s most popular flavors from Memphis dry rubs and sweet and tangy Carolina vinegars to smoky Texas-style tastes and the Midwest’s own Kansas City-style.
Come hungry and sink your teeth into this smokin’ all-American pastime.

Information courtesy of Silver Dollar City

More than 150 crafters will exhibit their work during the 35th Annual Plumb Nellie Arts & Crafts Festival in Historic Downtown Branson on May 16-18, 2008.

The name “Plumb Nellie” is derived from an Old English expression that described street fairs in olden times when local farmers brought their produce and home crafts into the town square to sell. “Plumb” comes from the carpenter’s plumb line that is used to be certain everything is square, and combined with “Nearly” (Nellie) it means perfectly nearly. It’s a bit redundant and ungrammatical, but the old timers used to say “You can find “plumb nellie” anything at the fair.”

The phrase also can be used to dramatize any event or incident that is particularly memorable, such as “I plumb nellie fainted when that big dog came running after me.”

Crafters and artists from all over the Midwest will participate. The show is sponsored by the Downtown Branson Main Street Association to celebrate heritage and home crafts, the culture of arts and crafts, and the skills of individuals who want to keep the traditions of the past alive. Shoppers will find a wide variety of items including wood crafts, quilts and clothing, crocheted and knitted items, hats, purses and ladies accessories, toys, floral arrangements, ironwork and collectible dolls, plus many more. Food booths are also on the site, offering an eclectic supply of goodies and old favorites.

On Saturday, the Outrageous Dog Show will delight everyone. Any dog is eligible, and may be entered in categories such as Best Dressed Dog, Owner Look-alike, Longest Ears, Waggiest Tail, Most Talented, etc.

Craft booths will be in two large tents, located in the center of Downtown Branson at Commercial and Atlantic streets. The show is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is FREE.

While visiting Branson, those in the pet competition will want a pet friendly Branson hotel to stay at during their visit. Be sure to make reservations early for better savings.

The Thousand Hills Golf Resort is the most popular golf course in Branson, and a great deal of that is due to its location – it’s right off Highway 76 where all the action is: comedy acts, shopping malls and live country music legends.

“My biggest competition isn’t other golf courses,” said Head Professional Cliff Easum. “My biggest competition is Mickey Gilley.”

There are roughly 19,000 rental units surrounding the area, including the condos on the course itself. Thousand Hills is literally in the middle of the tourist hordes that arrive in Branson daily.
Of course, that isn’t the only reason Thousand Hills is so popular. It’s a public golf course, for one thing, and for another, it is simply a fun play, particularly if you’re short on time.

It’s a Bob Cupp design with fairways that dip, swoop and twist, falling off to rocky creeks and canyons. It has excellent elevation changes, despite being in the heart of the Branson strip.
It’s a very short course – all the better to hurry through so you can catch Yakov Smirnoff‘s laugh riot.

It measures only 5,111 yards with a par of 64. That includes nine par 3s.

“When they built it, it didn’t have a footprint to put a full-sized golf course on,” Easum said. “When you start selling land by the foot, you know what I mean.”

The land around these parts is so valuable, in fact, that the driving range was replaced by high-rise condos. Much of the course, in fact, has condos looming over it.

That doesn’t mean the course is easy. Some of the par 3s are difficult. No. 4, for example, is a 203-yarder over a valley into a tough green. No. 7 is over water – “This is the only hole the little old ladies gripe at me about,” said Easum.

No. 17 is 205 yards from the back tees, over water and a marshy area.

“It’s a modern, target-style golf course,” Easum said. “People see that par 64 on the scorecard and think they’re going to tear this place up. Even the good players will get their butts handed to them. We really try to discourage people from playing from the blue tees. It’s just so hard.”

The greens are Crenshaw bentgrass, subtle with a lot of tricky breaks.

Thousand Hills is a good golf course to test your short game with all the par 3s. It does have some other testers, like the 13th, where a 220-yard drive is necessary to carry the water, and the third hole, a 350-yard par 4 where they blasted the green out of rock. The elevated green sits atop a rocky cliff and must be approached high and soft.

The land on which the course sits was vacant for many years until it was developed. Back in the 1940s, it was the site of a girl scout camp.

Green fees are $59 in the mornings, $52 for seniors and $35 after noon.

The Thousand Hills Golf and Conference Center is close to all the Branson attractions and, of course, has its own golf course. It has a large rental program, with more than 250 cabin and condo rentals, from suites to four-bedroom units.

All cabins and condos have either golf course or wooded views.

The resort has seven indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fully equipped fitness center, tennis courts and free parking, something you can’t always count on in Branson.

Information courtesy of WorldGolf

The Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Missouri continually serves up great fun and delicious food. Here’s an account from a true visitor, and their experience on Branson’s Showboat Branson Belle Dinner Cruise:

We all exited the Showboat Branson Belle with the same question: “How does he make those dogs talk?”

That is Todd Oliver’s trade secret, of course, but his Web site assures that it’s approved and licensed by the people in Missouri who govern animal performing acts.

The singing and dancing are great, but those wise-cracking dogs steal the after-dinner show on the Showboat Branson Belle, a modern version of a 1890s paddlewheel riverboat that offers lunch and dinner cruises on Table Rock Lake.

Oliver is a ventriloquist who performs for the evening shows with his family pets, which he said were mostly adopted from shelters, and if you don’t believe dogs can talk you’ll just have to go see for yourself.

The evening cruise entertainment also includes Showstoppers, a Broadway-style act, and the Russian Adagio acrobatic dance team. Other acts including comedic magician Christopher James perform at noon.

We started our three-day Branson weekend on the showboat, which holds up to 720 guests and is a model of efficiency. Dinner is brought quickly to your table and you get two meat dishes for the price of your ticket, tender braised beef and chicken cordon blue. You also can ask for a vegetarian meal, or pay a bit more for club room seating with expanded menu choices. Children ages 4 to 11 get the cruise and a kid-friendly meal for half price. As with many Branson attractions, children 3 and younger are admitted free.

My family group included baby boomer grandparents, a 30-something son and granddaughters who are 3 and 11, and all of us enjoyed the food, the show and the scenery. White River Landing, from which the showboat sails, is easy to find and features ample free parking and a couple of nice gift shops. The cruise lasts two hours and 15 minutes and includes a video about the history of Branson and the building of the 278-foot long showboat, which was launched in 1995.

Information courtesy of The Oklahoman