The “upper crust” of morning television personalities is going to be in Branson in April to help celebrate Ozark Mountain Spring.

Al Roker, weather anchor for NBC’s Today Show, will be the celebrity judge for the inaugural Branson’s Great American Pie Show, scheduled for April 24-25 at the Branson Convention Center.

“What a wonderful opportunity to get more national exposure for the Branson area,” said Ross Summers, president and CEO of the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. “Anytime we can bring in popular national personalities, it’s a good thing. I know Branson will pull out all the stops to make sure (Roker) enjoys his time in the area.”

Branson and Taste of Home magazine are sponsoring the new national pie recipe contest. The best pie recipes could possibly win one of several prizes, including a first prize of $2,500 and a four-day, three-night vacation for two to Branson.

“I’m excited that Branson has another new event that could become something that draws the nation’s attention this way for years to come,” Summers said. “This is going to be a very exciting spring for the Branson area.”

Contest rules and information may be found by logging onto GreatAmericanPieShow.com or TasteofHome.com.

There are also more than 40 other events planned for Ozark Mountain Spring.

They will include the Branson Air Show, Branson Elvis Festival, Purple Heart Veterans Event and the celebration of 50 years of live music shows in Branson.

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News

Valentine’s Day is a special day to show affection to the one you love.

Many cards are delivered each year and it has been going on for decades.

A Valentine art exhibit that will take you back in time will be on display at the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure Feb. 1-18.

Sincerely Yours: The Art of Love, celebrates the centuries-old tradition of exchanging valentine greetings on the day known as St. Valentine’s Day.

Before the days of mass-produced Valentine greetings, many Valentines were small works of art, lovingly handcrafted for that special someone.

The exhibit presents dozens of these antique creations from the Victorian era.

“As popular as scrapbooking has become in recent years, it was even more popular during the late 1800s and early 1900s,” said Dianna Herschend, owner of The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure.

“It became quite the social activity. Guests were invited for refreshments and to spend hours admiring the host’s scrapbooks,” she said.

The works of art range from large and elaborate mechanicals with intricate designs of foil and paper lace, to simple postcards which cost just a penny.

The postcard Valentines include “vinegar Valen-tines” — Valentines with bad attitudes and such poor manners the U.S. Post Office eventually refused to deliver them.

The exhibit celebrates both the art and history of Valentine’s Day, from how the day was named for St. Valentine, to the evolution of the designs of these beautiful vintage Valentines.

Herschend said Valentine scrapbooking became very competitive.

“Everyone wanted to have the most impressive scrapbook, so the practice is largely responsible for the preservation of the originals from so long ago,” she said.

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News

Wintertime is about to heat up in Branson.

Hot Winter Fun is in full swing and will run through February, according to Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce officials.

According to the chamber, mild winter weather in the Ozarks, combined with seasonal special offers for value-minded visitors, creates an ideal opportunity to get away and enjoy Branson’s shows, attractions, shopping, museums, championship golf, world-class fishing, cozy lakeside resorts and much more.

“If you’ve got a case of the winter blues and a little cabin fever, get up and get away to Branson,” said Buck Trent, renowned banjo picker and country humorist. “We’re open for fun. In Branson, we’ve got the answer to your winter doldrums.”

Branson is celebrating 50 Years of Live Music Shows in 2009.

The featured event of Hot Winter Fun involves a collection of Branson entertainers.

The Hot Winter Fun Big Show is scheduled for Feb. 9 at the Jim Stafford Theatre in Branson.

It will include the musical variety visitors have come to expect in Branson and can be found during Hot Winter Fun. The variety includes Big Band, Broadway, country, swing, rock ‘n’ roll, pop, bluegrass, jazz, gospel, patriotic, classical and more.

There is music made famous by contemporary composers, cowboy poets, cinematic blockbusters, ‘50s heartthrobs, ‘60s pop bands, and today’s Top 40 artists can be heard from early morning until late at night in Branson.

Chamber officials say that with average daytime temperatures that rise well into the 50s, the winter months are a great time to visit Branson.

In fact, trout fishing on Lake Taneycomo is ideal this time of year. There’s no shortage of things to do and see.

Many area resorts and lodging properties offer discounts during the winter months.

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News

In a town like Branson, Missouri, where shows are a way of life, the announcement of a new show can become common place, but there’s just not been quite been anything like Branson’s newest announced show. Branson has just about every type of show imaginable including comedy, magic, music of just about every type, and outdoor drama, but, until now, it has never had a pie show.

Well, it does now and it’s not just any pie show, it’s “Branson’s Great American Pie Show.” The pie show was announced the morning of Jan. 16 at the Branson Convention Center, as a major part of Branson’s newest event, “Ozark Mountain Spring,” by Mary Kellogg, the co-owner of the “Titanic – Worlds Largest Museum Attraction.”

Kellogg said, Branson’s Great American Pie Show, presented by the “Taste of Home” magazine, will be one of the new events presented as part of Ozark Mountain Spring and will be held at the Branson Convention Center on Friday, Apr. 24 and Saturday, Apr. 25. The “Taste of Home” website, www.tasteofhome.com/pieshow, states, “This Contest is sponsored by The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. (the publisher of Taste of Home) and Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB” and gives a link to the “rules” (details) of the contest.

The rules require contestants to submit their pie recipes, either on line or by mail, to arrive at Taste of Home no later than 11:59 p.m. Mar. 13. All entries must be submitted in one of four categories Fruit, Nut, Pudding/Cream/Custard, or Refrigerator/Freezer. The Taste of Home judging panel will select 12 finalists, three in each of the four categories, from the submitted entries based on four criteria Creativity, Feasibility, Flavor and Visual Appeal.

According to the rules, all entries will be judged and the 12 finalists notified by email and mail within two weeks of the “closing date.” The 12 finalists have the opportunity to come to Branson and actually compete against each other for cash and prizes at “Branson’s Great American Pie Show” which will be held in the Branson Convention Center on Apr. 24 and Apr. 25. Although all finalists will receive two nights lodging and meals for two people, all transportation costs to and from Branson and all other costs are not included and must be paid by the finalists.

The semi-finals will be held between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Friday Apr. 24 with the pie judging at 3:00 p.m. The four finalists will compete in the finals on Saturday, Apr. 25 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with the pie judging at 2:00 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 4:00 p.m. The judges will use the same criteria in the semi finals and finals used to judge the original entries from which the 12 finalists were chosen.

Kellogg formally announced that NBC’s Al Roker will be a celebrity judge for the final pie judging on Saturday. He will also be available for a book signing and a question and answer session from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The First Place winner will receive a check for $2500 and a four day, three night trip for two (2) to Branson, MO including hotel accommodations, shows and meals. Air fare to and from Branson is not included. The prizes for Second through Fourth Place are Second Place $1000 and a Branson Gift Basket having an estimated retail value of $1040 Third Place $500 and a Branson Gift Basket having an estimated retail value of $540 and Fourth Place Winner $250 and a Branson Gift Basket having an estimated retail value of $290.

Information courtesy of Branson Courier

The Baldknobbers have added Valentines weekend to their 2009 show schedule with shows at 8pm on Friday February 13 and Saturday February 14.

“Join the entire cast of the Baldknobbers for an evening of great country music and hilarious comedy this year for Valentines Weekend,” says Tim Mabe, producer and comedian “Droopy Drawers, Jr.”
Tim adds, “Branson is a great place to visit anytime and when you come to Branson, you must see us, Branson’s First Show. With Stub Meadows and Hargus Marcel, we have one of the best comedy teams in Branson and you can’t beat the Baldknobbers for family harmony and entertainment.”
The Baldknobbers Jamboree Show, Branson’s First Show, is located on the famed 76 Country Music Boulevard. Join the Baldknobbers in 2009 as they celebrate their golden anniversary and be part of the legend!
Information courtesy of The Baldknobbers

More than 400 people braved snow flurries and freezing temperatures Friday to dream about spring.

College of the Ozarks Athletic Director Al Waller led the crowd in a cheer during the kickoff event for Ozark Mountain Spring at Branson Convention Center.

“Ten years ago, most Branson businesses didn’t open their doors until April,” Waller said. “While the (NAIA D-II) national tournament has helped the tourism season start earlier in March, this new idea will hopefully solidify March as the kickoff to the tourism season.”

Waller was one of several area community and business leaders speaking on behalf of Ozark Mountain Spring, a new marketing effort involving more than 40 events from March through April.

The events will be highlighted by an appearance from Al Roker, of the “Today Show.” Called America’s favorite weatherman, Roker will be in town to judge the Great American Pie Show.

“Perhaps it’s time for a change,” said Mary Kellogg, with the Titanic Museum. “We have the opportunity to promote something new, which involves the basics of our economy — great shows, restaurants, lodging and attractions.”

The Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce has worked on the idea since August.

“We’ve actually been looking for a new spring concept for several years,” said Ross Summers, the chamber’s president and CEO. “It is very encouraging to see this many folks show up. The community is looking for something new and support is crucial.”

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News

The golden days of 1957 have been over for quite some time now, but in Branson, they have been alive & well for the past three years. ’57 Heaven Museum, located at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater, has been home to a plethora of 1957 automobiles, all paying homage to an era that is trademarked by poodle skirts, sock hops and soda fountains. However, the owner of the ’57 Heaven Museum, Glenn Patch, has decided to sell his vintage car collection, citing the economy as his main reason for liquidating his collection. He is quoted, in an excerpt from the LA Times, as saying “If it weren’t for the economy, I wouldn’t be selling.”

A total of 66 cars filled the museum, which was located on the ground floor of the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater. Patch would like to sell the collection as one piece, but many doubt that is a possibility. Currently, the car collection and contents of the museum are being sold for $17 million.
The museum is still open for the time being, operating Monday – Saturday, from 9am – 5pm. Visit the 30,000 sq ft museum now for a look at vintage America, because soon it will be gone, just like the days of 1957.

The legendary Osmonds will return to The Osmonds Theater in Branson, Missouri to perform several engagements in 2009. Celebrating 50 years in show business and having just returned from a sold-out world concert tour, the Osmonds look forward to playing daily to Branson audiences later this year.

The Osmonds Theater originally opened in 1992 as The Osmond Family Theater and since then, the theater as well as the Osmond family have maintained a consistent presence in world famous Branson on the 76 Strip.

As of March 9, 2009, The Osmonds Theater will officially be under the new management of Nolan Fogle, owner of five successful Branson restaurants, and will follow the Osmond family tradition of presenting world class entertainment in spectacular productions.

According to Jimmy Osmond, youngest Osmond brother and owner of the theater, “It’s really been an amazing year and it’s great to be back in Branson, which has always felt like home to me and my family. We’re excited to have the opportunity to continue entertaining our many fans who travel from all over the world to see us!”

Jimmy Osmond will return to join his brothers at the theater later this year, after he wraps starring roles in the Broadway musicals “Cinderella,” “Grease,” and “Chicago,” in the U.K.

The Osmonds shows commence this September and will run through December 2009.

Information courtesy of The Osmond Theater

Regardless of the season there are always lots of special and exciting things to do in Branson, Missouri and that’s what Branson’s Hot Winter Fun is all about. Even in January, when a lot of Branson’s shows and some attractions and activities that are weather dependent are closed there is always shows to see, loads of fun to be had and things to do, and memories to be made.

The majority of Branson’s shopping, major attractions, museums, movies, restaurants and a broad choice of lodging are open. If there’s one thing that doesn’t miss a beat during winter, or any other season, it’s the fabulous shopping that Branson is noted for. With the number and variety of stores in Branson there is a shopping experience to meet just about every shopping need or desire.

Branson’s premier shopping – attraction location, Branson Landing and its 100 plus shopping and restaurant venues are all open and offer a variety of shopping and dining conveniently located in one location. In addition, weather permitting The Landing’s spectacular free $7.5 million synchronized water, fire, and music show is amazing to see.

Branson’s other major malls, Tanger Outlet, Factory Merchants, Imax Shopping Complex and The Shoppes at Branson Meadows are all open. When the rest of the specialty shopping that Branson has to offer such as those available in historic downtown Branson are factored in, Branson just might be the perfect illustration of the place where a person can truly “Shop till they drop.”

The Grand Country Complex offers an indoor water park and miniature golf course and live shows including the Buck Trent, Grand Jubilee, and the Comedy Jamboree shows. Where else but Branson, MO can a person experience the ferociousness of dinosaurs at the Dinosaur Museum and the daintiness of thousands of White Butterflies at the unique “White Flight” spectacular in the Butterfly Palace?

Branson has a museum for just about every interest. Their size and exhibits are as diverse as the “Titanic – World’s Largest Museum Attraction,” a huge one half scale replication of the Titanic dedicated completely to the memory of it, its crew and passengers, to the “The World’s Largest Toy Museum.”

Branson’s museums also include “The Veteran’s Memorial Museum,” dedicated to America’s Armed Forces; “The Hollywood Wax Museum” an action packed tribute to Hollywood’s stars and movies; “The Roy Rogers Museum” celebrating the “King of the Cowboys” and the lessons of a bygone era; “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” featuring unusual and unique exhibits from all over the world and housed in a building, Ripley’s says, is one of the most photographed in the world.

The month of January features two very special events at Branson Attractions. “White Flight” is finishing out a limited engagement at the Butterfly Palace, through Jan. 15. It features a blizzard of thousands of white butterflies flying in a rain forest lit with thousands of lights, and music that combine in a unique one of a kind spectacular.

On January 17, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the “Titanic – World’s Largest Museum Attraction” will be presenting its Third Annual Ice Sculpturing Event. The competition features some of the world’s most accomplished ice sculptors as they create fantastic creations out of 250 pound blocks of ice. The event is free and is held at the bow of the Titanic located at the intersection of Gretna Road and State Highway 76 in the heart of Branson’s strip.

In keeping with Branson’s long standing tradition of honoring America’s Veterans, the signing of the Vietnam Peace Accord will be remembered on January 28. A special program will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Golden Corral to mark the day in 1973 when one of Amerioca’s most controversial wars came to an end. Please contact Barbara Linderer of the Branson Veteran’s Task Force for additional information on this even at 417-337-8387.

The Branson IMAX Discovery Theatre offers a full selection of IMAX Adventure films, shown in the giant IMAX format on its giant six story high IMAX Screen with 22,000 watts of digital surround sound. In addition to showing the latest Hollywood feature films in its three state of the art Elite Cinema theatres the IMAX also shows selected on the IMAX screen at selected times each day. The Branson Meadows Cinema also offers 11 screens showing the latest feature films.

The opportunities for outdoor activities from hiking, golfing, kayaking, fishing, boat riding, and even a dinner cruise on the Branson Landing Princess are, although weather dependent, boundless. Just a simple walk along the boardwalk at Branson Landing beside Lake Taneycomo with your family and the opportunity see a Bald Eagle in Flight will be unique and just might provide that special memory that could last a life time.

Information courtesy of The Branson Courier

Robert Ripley was a world traveler who visited more than 200 countries before his death at age 58. He was an artist, a reporter, an explorer and a collector.

The stories he gathered and illustrated would later appear as a popular newspaper cartoon feature, “Believe it or Not!” and are still enjoyed by readers around the world today.

“When you stop and think about it, Robert Ripley was the Internet of his time,” said Heather Cognito, marketing director of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum in Branson.

The museum has special interest to many who visit and the educational value is drawing teachers and students from around the area.

Cognito said teachers are taking advantage of the museum as a learning tool, showing their students there are things in the world other than the Internet.

“We have had teachers focus their curriculum for the year on world travel. It’s been a great way for students to see something of other cultures. Regardless of where they are in their studies, there is something that is related here at the museum,” she said.

Cognito said students like a good challenge and have found things in the museum that really make them think.

“They like a lot of the interactive things. The illusions gallery is all-visual challenging mind teasers, with a lot of riddles. They stay in there a long time,” she said.

Ripley was famous for showing people the odd and unusual from cultures around the world.

Whenever possible, he brought home artifacts from his journeys.

Cognito said she really enjoys seeing the expressions on children’s faces when they figure things out.

When students visit the museum Cognito challenges them to find the two displays that are not real.

She said the two pieces were exhibited in museums for years in other countries as legitimate. Ripley was the one who uncovered them as frauds.

“The kids are pretty savvy. They usually figure it out,” Cognito said.

What are the two exhibits? You’ll have to find out for yourself.

But one hint, they both have something to do with water.

Cognito said the giant ball of twine and the wax figure of the world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, are very popular and someone is always asking, “how did you get that giant limousine in here?”

The museum is full of many interesting treasures that make you think and scratch your head in amazement.

“It’s definitely a place that you will want to return to more than once,” Cognito said.

“Come and see the world, it will totally amaze you.”

Information courtesy of Branson Daily News