More than 150 crafters will exhibit their work during the 35th Annual Autumn Daze Arts & Crafts Festival in Historic Downtown Branson on September 18-21, 2008. Free admission and entertainment will be available all weekend long.

Crafters and artists from all over the Midwest will participate. The show is sponsored by the Downtown Branson Main Street Association to celebrate heritage crafts and the culture of arts and crafts, 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 vendors are also on the site, offering tempting goodies.

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. Thursday through Saturday, and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Admission is FREE.

This is a juried craft show. Crafters seeking booth space may apply to the Downtown Branson Main Street Association. 417-334-1548 or write to DBMA, PO Box 1034, Branson, MO 65615.

Information & Image courtesy of DBMA

After taking a break in ‘07, Branson’s Olde Time Fiddle Festival will return Saturday with dozens of musicians vying for titles.

“We have one fiddler who is only 6 years old, and a number of family groups,” said Dawn Erickson, director of the event’s sponsor, the Downtown Branson Main Street Association.

The youngest fiddler, from Kirbyville, will be joined by four siblings. Fiddlers from as far away as New Zealand have expressed interest in the festival; so far, about 45 have registered and many will do so Saturday morning, Erickson said.

Competition begins at 10 a.m. near the fountain at Branson Landing. Finals will be held at 7 p.m.

If thunderstorms play a factor, the festival will be held indoors at the K-Life building on 5th Street.

“We’ve been watching the weather very closely,” Erickson said.

The last fiddle festival — the 19th annual — was held in 2006.

“It had always been held downtown on the stone steps, but the Landing is not conducive to a ticketed event and we always charged admission,” Erickson said.

This year, for the first time, the event will be free to the public.

“We raised about $10,000 and the city donated $10,000 for marketing,” Erickson said. “A number of local businesses are also sponsors of the event.”

Branson Landing is also contributing $3,000 in services and equipment.

Prize money and awards will total $4,000.

Even though the contest and awards ceremony will be held at the Landing, the entire downtown district will be filled with performances, Erickson said.

“It’s just going to be a lot of fun,” she said. “We’re expecting to see a lot of sidewalk sales.”

Information & Image courtesy of Branson Daily News

Branson ranked as the No. 1 destination spot for the first half of 2008 on the domestic travel planning Web site Vacationfun.com, based on requests for tourist information.

“Branson’s location and reputation as a value destination pushed it to the top of the list,” said John Hudak, publisher of Vacationfun.com, which is currently ranked in the top 10 percent of U.S. travel Web sites by the independent tracking firm Hitwise.

Despite economic concerns affecting the tourism industry, travel planning on Vacationfun.com is growing—visits to the site increased by 36 percent in the first half of 2008 compared to the same time period in 2007. According to Hudak, most Americans are not giving up vacations altogether, but staying closer to home and looking for vacation deals.

A traveler survey co-authored by the Travel Industry Association and Ypartnership and released in May revealed that, of respondents who stated their plans will change if gas prices continue to rise, the greatest percentage will respond by driving a shorter distance to their vacation destination.

“Branson fits the bill perfectly for what travelers need this year,” said Hudak.

The average daily hotel rate in Branson is $75.90, compared with a national tab of $103, according to industry research group Smith Travel. Show tickets in Branson average $29, compared to an average $130 to $150 per ticket for Las Vegas.

In addition, the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB sponsors a popular “Gas Buster” program to further offset the cost of travel. The program provides visitors who present at least $40 in gas receipts at either of the Chamber’s two Welcome Centers with a card worth $50 in discounts.

These factors, combined with recent additions and upgrades to Branson lodging, shopping and attractions, put the city in position to continue to attract growing numbers of travelers. Local tourism leaders project growth for 2008 between 2 and 3 percent over last year’s total visitor figure of 8.4 million.

Vacationfun.com attracts 1.85 million user sessions per year and is referenced as “America’s leading source of free official travel information.” The site enables travelers to research destinations and request information, by mail or electronically, from tourism organizations nationwide. Consumers requested more than 7.8 million visitor guides and brochures through VacationFun.com in 2007.

St. Louis captured the No. 2 destination spot on Vacationfun.com for the first half of 2008, followed by Boston, Savannah, Ga. and San Antonio.

Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce

Branson’s Celebration City has created a new way for families to play and save. Their new Family Meal Deal program allows families to get the best bargain for their buck, while also making their days in Branson a little less stressful. You see, with the Family Meal Deal you won’t have to worry about what the kids will eat for dinner, or constantly having to pay for a drink to quench their thirst. With the Family Meal Deal Program, for a small additional charge ($5.50 more for adults, $1.50 more for children,) you can choose from a variety of menu options at Kick’s 66 BBQ Grill, Last Chance Diner and Mickey’s Pizza and you’ll also receive free unlimited refills of Coke products throughout your day at the park.

The Family Meal Deal plan is a convenient option for families on the go who don’t want to spare any of their vacation time on food runs, but who are also looking for a way to save a few dollars too. The Celebration City Family Meal Deal Program lets guest choose from several meal options, including everything from hamburgers to pizza to brisket sandwiches. You can view the complete list of meal options here.
The regular gate admission for Celebration City for adults (12 years and older) is $26.00 plus tax. Adding the $5.50 for the meal deal program is a bargain because that price includes a meal and unlimited drinks, which we all know, are generally pricey yet always need during a day at a theme park. The regular gate admission for children (4-11 years of age) at Celebration City is $21.00 plus tax. Pay just $1.50 more, and your children can eat a delicious meal and quench their thirst as often as possible, without you having to fork over cash again and again. At $1.50, the Celebration City Meal Deal Program is cheaper than any Happy Meal you could buy.
Note that a child’s meal deal ticket must be bought in conjunction with an adult meal deal ticket.

Silver Dollar City has added 3 NIGHTS to the end of summer! During August 18, 19 & 20 the park will be open from 4 PM to 10 PM, creating a unique experience for any visitor.

Ride Lost River of the Ozarks into the darkness or feel the black of night blow through your hair onboard roller coasters! Our thrilling rides will run into the evening and you’ll find special deals on nighttime meals and merchandise in select shops. It’s the perfect end to your summer!

See Springfield’s Skinny Improv perform each evening during this 3-night event. Your family will squeal with laughter as this talented troupe fills the stage with improvised sketches, scenes and music.

Find your favorite treats at Eva & Delilah’s Bakery, Hannah’s Ice Cream Factory, Fanny’s Famous Funnel Cakes, Flossie’s Fried Fancies, Brown’s Candy Factory, Phoebe Snapp Taffy and at concession stands throughout the park.
Or feed a powerful hunger with full meals at Wagon Works Grill, Riverside Ribhouse and Lumbercamp Restaurant!
Browse for special gifts and souvenirs at Two Sisters Jewelry, General Store, Cowboy Jepp’s, JJ Fiddlestick’s Toy Store, Inventor’s Warehouse, PowderKeg® Outfitters, Casey’s Baseball Bat Cart, Hospitality House and Ozark Marketplace.

Special Moonlight Madness Ticket PricesAdult/Child (ages 4+) – Only $20 (plus tax)

Purchase tickets at the front gate on the days of the event, or in advance by calling 800-475-9370. Tickets for Moonlight Madness are not available online.
Only rides and select restaurants and shops will be open; regular Silver Dollar City shows will not be hosted during this special event. The WaterWorks Waterboggan will close at dark.
Information courtesy of Silver Dollar City

A ‘deceivingly tougher’ Tour of Missouri will challenge the field of 120 worldclass cyclists from 15 elite professional teams when they line up for the September 8th – 14th Tour of Missouri. Race organizers announced back in June the overall race finish city will be St. Louis. Each of the seven courses for the weeklong event were announced by Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, race director Jim Birrell and two time stage winner Ivan Dominguez of the U.S.’s top domestic squad Toyota United Pro Cycling Team.
“Again, the great state of Missouri will play host to these worldclass athletes from more than 20 countries this September,” said Lt. Governor Kinder. “This year, we’ve worked to make the course more challenging and with a few new twists, including new terrain, new cities, homage to our Armed Forces on September 11th and another grand finale in St. Louis.”

After several preevents in the Kansas City metro area, Stage 1, Monday, September 8th, will start in new host city St. Joseph, and pose a bigger challenge for cyclists through rolling terrain along the Missouri River before a circuit finish in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza district for the second straight year.

Stage 2, Tuesday, September 9th, will be the most flat but longest stage, routing from Clinton to Springfield. It is a remake of last year’s course, which proved to be the decisive stage of the race after a long breakaway put race champion George Hincapie into the race lead for good.

Stage 3, Wednesday, September 10th, remakes last year’s time trial course in Branson, and has been cited as perhaps the most pivotal stage of the race, starting at The Branson Landing and finishing at Shepherd of the Hills.

Stage 4, Thursday, September 11th, is a new course that will take cyclists from Lebanon to new host city Rolla in south central Missouri. Cyclists will be challenged by six sizeable hills, in perhaps the toughest stage, to the finish on a college campus at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The race also will feature a sprint through Fort Leonard Wood Military Reservation to commemorate U.S. Armed Forces.

Stage 5, Friday, September 12th, a new course, features a start in the quaint town of St. James, a new host city, and routes north to an earlyevening finish in front of the Capitol Building in Jefferson City. Cyclists will race up a tough 300meter climb to the finish line. Added Birrell: “In response to surveying a lot of the cyclists from last year’s race, we’ve made it a bit more challenging with some more hills,” said Birrell. “While Missouri doesn’t have any major mountains, it is a very hilly state. We have incorporated some of the big rollers within the state and come up with some very good courses. One of our course advisors was Kevin Livingston, originally from Missouri, who rode at a worldclass level in Europe for almost a decade and was a great climber. He pointed us in the right direction.”

Stage 6, and routing along the twisting highways near the Missouri River and feature the two longest climbs of the tour on Schluersburg and Old Colony Roads before passing through the city of O’Fallon and finishing near the same location in St. Charles along the Missouri River.

Stage 7, Sunday, September 14th, will feature the circuit used from last year’s final stage in St. Louis, but will have several new features. The race will be moved from Union Station to a start and finish in front of City Hall on Tucker and Market Streets. The circuit will be stretched to 14 miles and include a large section through Forest Park and feature the Grand Basin and the Art Museum hill. Last year’s inaugural race suited Dominguez, who won the opening stage in Kansas City and the closing stage in St. Louis, and has become a big fan of the Tour of Missouri despite the tougher terrain. “As a sprinter, I like the flat terrain, so more hills are not necessarily so good for me,” said Dominguez, who won more races last year on the North American circuit than any racer. “But, there are three good stages for me in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis, so, I am excited. And, it is always a challenge to go up against some of the top sprinters from the European pro teams. Last year’s race was very good for my ToyotaUnited teammates. There were a lot of spectators, especially for a new race. And, it’s always good to win. Of course, Kansas City and St. Louis are now my new favorite towns.”

Information courtesy of Tour of Missouri

National Kids Fest
June 7, 2008 – August 10, 2008
Times: Open daily from 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: Silver Dollar City
Kids’ Fest presents an all-new show: The Magic of Peter Gossamer, Circus of the Century on Ice, a circus-themed show with a cool twist for summer – playful animals and clowns on ice. Also a Kid Concoctions creativity center where kids can make their own Gooey Gunk or Splongee Balls, or learn to make a volcano, from the acclaimed Kid Concoctions books and television show.
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First Saturday Night Art Walk
August 2, 2008
Times: 4-9pm
Location: Downtown Branson
Phone: (417) 335-5088
Here’s a chance for locals and vistors alike to discover one of a kind finds by artists in downtown studios, galleries and stores. Be sure to bring your walking shoes, then follow the map to visit all displays throughout downtown. Art walk maps available at Euro Cafe & Creamery and Premier Gallery to help guide you through the downtown area and ensure you don’t miss any of the unique art displays.
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AREA ’57 CRUISE IN & Drive-In Movie Night
August 2, 2008
Location: Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Complex
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12th Annual Shepherd Summer Cruise
August 9, 2008
Times: 11:15pm – 11:45pm
Location: The corner of Gretna Road and Hwy 76
Phone: (417) 334-9500
Admission: Free
The Titanic Museum Attraction presents a Shepherd Summer Cruise, entertainment special featuring the famous Liverpool Legends. One of the prime, parade observation locations will be from the Titanic Museum Attraction’s parking lot. All are welcome to watch the passing parade and to enjoy a pre-parade Beatles Concert featuring The Liverpool Legends, live, on Titanic’s Bow.
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Branson Summer Cruise In & Drive-In Movie Night
August 9, 2008
Location: Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Complex
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WORST FILMS EVER – Film Festival
August 15, 2008 – August 16, 2008
Location: Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Complex
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Branson Area Business Expo
August 21, 2008
Times: 12 – 6 p.m.
Email: ljohnson@bransoncvb.com
Location: Hilton Branson Convention Center
Phone: 417-334-4084 ext 314
Admission: Free
FREE Workshop “Retaining Talent” provided by Ozark Technical College 2-3pm
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20th annual Downtown Branson Fiddle Festival
August 23, 2008
Times: Music begins at 10 am
Location: Downtown Branson
Phone: 417-334-1548
Admission: Free
Featuring a Celebrity Pie Contest and—for the first time—free admission to all performances!
This year, there will be performances throughout the day on street corners in historic downtown Branson along with sidewalk sales and traditional Main Street shopping. Just down the street, Branson Landing’s Town Square will be the site for the competition.Competition will be in five divisions: ages nine and younger, age 10 through 16, age 60 and older, an open category for any age and the new “Cross Tuning” category. More than $4,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded.
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Southern Gospel Picnic
August 28, 2008 – September 7, 2008
Times: Open daily from10 a.m.-6 p.m. August 30 & 31 open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Location: Silver Dollar City
Phone: 800-475-9370
The popular Southern Gospel Picnic returns with more glorious gospel music from some of the top names in Southern Gospel music, and a picnic feast of Chicken & Fixin’s. See hundreds of performances from the top names in southern gospel music! The heavens will resound with the sweet sounds of your favorite southern gospel groups on stages throughout the park by day. Then Echo Hollow® Amphitheatre will be serenaded with music from the famed Southern Gospel Nights concert series each evening.
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Greater Ozarks Pontiac Club Regional Car Show
August 30, 2008
Location: Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Complex

Information courtesy of Branson Chamber of Commerce

Silver Dollar City welcomes another great festival to its theme park, The Southern Gospel Picnic, which begins August 28 and ends September 7.

Southern gospel music has always resounded through these Ozark hills, from country churches and county fairs to porch-side pickin’ sessions and Sunday services. Come hear that vibrant music again during America’s Biggest Southern Gospel Picnic.

See hundreds of performances from the top names in southern gospel music! The heavens will resound with the sweet sounds of your favorite southern gospel groups on stages throughout the park by day.

Then Echo Hllow® Amphitheatre will be serenaded with music from the famed Southern Gospel Nights concert series each evening.

Savor southern cooking at its best as The House of Chicken & Fixin’s and The Picnic Wagon return to the City’s square for this 11 day event! Find your family’s favorite styles of chicken, plus all the extras you love! Choose from our signature Slow Roasted Apple Glazed Chicken, delicious Smoked BBQ Chicken or our famous Southern Fried Chicken.

Also during Southern Gospel Picnic, Silver Dollar City will host special advance screenings of the movie Billy: The Early Years, about the early life of legendary American evangelist Billy Graham.

Screenings will be on Saturday and Sunday, August 30 & 31 at 5:30 in Red Gold Heritage Hall. The movie, which will be released in theaters nationwide in October, is directed by Robbie Benson and stars Martin Landau, Jennifer O’Neill, and country star Josh Turner playing George Beverly Shea.
For a full schedule of peformers slated to appear during Silver Dollar City’s Southern Gospel Picnic, click here.
For featured Echo Hollow performers, click here.
Information courtesy of Silver Dollar City