The Branson Missouri Blog

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College of the Ozarks Farmers Market

Tomatoes at College of the Ozarks Farmers MarketMost four year colleges share many of the same features – dorm rooms, lecture halls, gymnasiums, and cafeterias. But how about a college with a student operated farmers market like the one at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO?

College of the Ozarks is a unique institution where students from the U.S. and abroad have the opportunity to graduate debt free by working off their tuition at various work stations around the campus. Work stations range from landscaping to clerical work to processing milk in the on-campus dairy, with just about everything in between, including the newly introduced farmers market. The farmers market team is composed of six students during the summer work program and eight in the fall, along with their work station supervisor, Eric Bright. “We’ve had really positive feedback, and it’s good public relations for the college,” said Bright of the new work station. Locals and tourists alike enjoy frequenting the unique farmers market and supporting the school – many customers return every week.

Eric Bright & Mary ParsonsThe farmers market is held on Fridays; all of the products sold are student raised, grown or made. The proceeds from the market circulate back into the college’s general fund and go towards supporting the college’s debt free mission. All of the produce is grown by the students in the college on-campus garden – the garden duties are shared between the landscaping department and the farmers market workers. Everything from peppers to cucumbers to green beans graces the tables at the farmers market. Green beans have been the number one summer seller at the market, with tomatoes coming in at a close second. All of the meats and the dairy products come from animals that are raised and/or processed by the school’s agriculture department. “Meats sell very good,” Bright observed. Other products include potted plants from the campus greenhouse, homemade fruitcakes, jams and jellies from the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen, and handmade baskets and rugs from the student crafters at Edwards Mill.

Thursdays are harvest and set-up for the farmers market team – the students harvest, wash and grade the produce from the garden (which varies based on the season), and set up the tables, display stations, registers and scales inside the College of the Ozarks sale barn. The indoor facility allows the students to hold the market even during inclement weather. Pre-market planning meetings are also held on Thursdays; during the meetings, the students discuss with their supervisor the logistics of the market and how to continue improving sales. A similar meeting is held post-market as well. These meeting encourage student feedback and good supervisor/student relationships, Bright said. He also noted that students in this work station have the opportunity to learn customer relation skills and important marketing techniques, such as displaying merchandise in the most visually appealing way possible.

But more than just customer service and sales lessons come into play here at the College of the Ozarks farmers market – students are also learning the value of supporting their community and knowing exactly where their food comes from – and that is one of the most important lessons of all.

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Get Ready to Accessorize for Fall with Jewelry and Accessories from Unique Branson Shops

Carp Rib Bone Earrings - Modern Earth CreationsAutumn is upon us here in the Ozarks – you can feel it in the crisp bite of the air, you can see it in the leaves beginning to fall, and you can probably taste it too – many area restaurants, cafes, and bakeries are bringing out flavors like pumpkin spice and caramel apple. With the coming of fall colors also comes the need to evaluate your wardrobe. Chances are, you will want to show off some fall colors as well, and new clothing articles mean you will need some new jewelry and accessories! You’re in luck – the Branson/Tri-Lakes area is home to some great Branson shops to purchase these fun items.

Modern Earth Creations

Blue Chainmail Necklace - Modern Earth Creations

Modern Earth Creations is an artistic local jewelry business created, owned and operated by resident College of the Ozarks student and Ozarks native Caleb Howerton. What first began as a simple interest in trying new things and experimenting with new and different art mediums has blossomed into a love of creating handcrafted pieces and a full-fledged online jewelry shop. “This is one of my passions,” Caleb said of making his jewelry. Every piece of jewelry from Modern Earth Creations is uniquely one-of-a-kind and handmade by Caleb. He uses a variety of natural mediums to create some of his pieces – everything from feathers and rocks, to bones and beetle wings grace many of the Modern Earth Creations earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Steampunk inspired pieces can be found in this Branson area shop as well – things like watch gears and small parts of computer motherboards are implemented to create this style. Wire is another medium frequently used by this innovative jeweler - many baubles sport wire wrapped beads or stones. Caleb also uses the wire to create intricate chainmail necklaces – chainmail is the art of linking small wire rings together to create a long strand or a mesh. He notes that the chainmail is what generates a lot of interest in his shop. If you are looking for unique piece for your fall wardrobe, perhaps one inspired by the natural colors of fall, Modern Earth Creations has the accessory for you! Visit Caleb’s shop at

Plum Bazaar

Plum Bazaar is a unique jewelry and bead store located in the Historic Downtown Branson district. With a selection of beads and custom jewelry from around the world, you’re sure to find something here to suit your style! Here you can find gemstone beads in many fall colors, such as Yellow Agate and Red Creek Jasper, and even coral and seashell beads. Plum Bazaar will take custom orders, using beads and wire in colors of your choice, and create a piece of jewelry that will match your fall wardrobe. Beading and wire jewelry classes are also offered by Plum Bazaar, in case you want to learn to make jewelry of your own for any season.

Earthbound Trading Co.

For some fun and distinctive fall fashion accessories with an earthy flair, stop by Earthbound Trading Co. on the Branson Landing. Here you’ll find lightweight, flowing scarves in a variety of fall colors to match any outfit, or perhaps some new retro sunglasses! Earthbound carries also carries a number of retro t-shirts, as well as handbags, headbands and dresses. The jewelry section of Earthbound features fabulous and inexpensive beaded bracelets, leather bracelets, rings, and necklaces with fun charms. Looking for some interesting home décor for the new season? You’ll find that here too! Throw pillows, wall art and unique trinkets from around the world are waiting for you at Earthbound.

Fall fashion is here – and these are just a few of the great Branson shops that have some groovy jewelry and accessories to complete your new autumn looks!

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Sight and Sound Theatres Brings Joseph to Branson

Sight and Sound Theatres is growing here in the Branson community as more and more people traveling in the area make a stop at this spectacular theatre to see one of Branson’s favorite productions – Joseph.

Dubbed the “Christian Broadway,” Sight and Sound Theatres have been putting on shows and plays for 35 years. The current Lancaster County, PA theatre has been in operation since 1998, and the Branson, MO location opened ten years later in 2008. The goal of Sight and Sound Theatres is to spread the message of “peace, love, understanding, forgiveness, and compassion” to its guests. Sight and Sound has continued to “inspire more than 800,000 guests every year to deepen their understanding of the Bible and explore a closer relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” Sight and Sound Theatres is the nation’s largest Christian live action theatre, and is home to five different shows that rotate between theatres so guests get the opportunity to see something new often. Currently, Sight and Sound is producing Noah, Joseph, Moses, Jonah, and Miracle of Christmas. Branson is currently the home of fan favorite Joseph, which has had more than 1 million guests in attendance in both Lancaster County and Branson.

Joseph Presented by Sight & Sound TheaterBranson is presently the home of Sight and Sound Theatres Joseph. A number of visitors to Branson come looking for the amazing experience provided by Sight and Sound. Joseph tells a beautiful story that spreads the message of God’s forgiveness. As you watch, Joseph’s story unfolds in front, beside, and above you. Elaborate dream sequences, Egyptian staging and stage props (like the 300 foot long Egyptian palace), colorful characters, live animals, and 20 memorable and original songs make up the magic that is Joseph. 45 adult and child actors make up the cast that beautifully tells Joseph’s story. Joseph will be in Branson until October 18, but 2013 will be the second and final season for Joseph to be in Branson. If you’re hoping to see this phenomenal show, act now!

In addition to Joseph, Branson will be hosting Miracle of Christmas starting November 2. This show will take you back in time to the greatest birth in history, right to the village of Bethlehem. You’ll see the angels proclaiming to the shepherds, “The Savior is Born!” and watch parades of camels, donkeys, and horses cross the stage. Reserve your tickets for this amazing Christmas show that will be like no other Christmas show you’ve ever seen.

Before you look at any other Branson show, make sure you check out what Sight and Sound Theatre has to offer. Joseph won’t be in Branson much longer, and this could be your last chance to see the beautiful story of Joseph unfold before your eyes. Miracle of Christmas will be in Branson starting in November. No matter which show you choose, your family will love the costumes, characters, and stories that the cast of Sight and Sound bring right to you.

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Magic Shows in Branson

Let’s face it – everyone is at least a little tiny bit fascinated with magic. Folks of all ages and walks of life are deathly curious about how magicians pull rabbits out of hats, cut people in half without injury, make airplanes appear onstage and just plain disappear. “How does it work?” they ask. “Is it real?” If you are one of many who find magic tricks and illusions utterly captivating, and you happen to be near Branson, Missouri, you’re in luck! There just happen to be a few great magic shows in Branson, the live entertainment capital of the world.

Kirby Vanburch Branson Magic ShowKirby Vanburch – World’s Largest Magic Show!

Around the world, Kirby Vanburch is known as the ‘Prince of Magic,’ having the title bestowed on him by the Princess of Thailand on one of his many world magic tours. Kirby began his magical career at the young age of seven – he spent many years performing magic and illusions in Las Vegas, where his fame as a magician grew. In 1992, Kirby moved his magical enterprise to Branson – and he’s been here ever since! Today, Kirby’s show encompasses illusions like a rapidly appearing helicopter, flame tricks, assistants cut in two and a cast of exotic big cats!

The Magic and Comedy of Taylor Reed

A Texas native, Taylor Reed has quickly rose to fame here in Branson! A magician since the age of five, Taylor has had a long and award studded career. He also is an avid supporter of charitable organizations and has performed many shows to benefit March of Dimes, the Shriners, the Ronald McDonald House, and more. Taylor performs dozens of illusions within his fast paced comedic magic show, and the unique part is that he invented and designed most of the inventions himself! THE ULTIMATE LEVITATION Illusion is patented under Taylor’s name; he designed and built the illusion device for this trick. Another unique Taylor Reed illusion is the 25 Piece Drum Set Vanish, where Taylor combines his passion for percussion and his magic knowledge, and turns the drums into a motorcycle! For a show that will boggle your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat, be sure to get your tickets to see the acclaimed Taylor Reed!

The Hamner Barber Show

For a colorful, feathery, magical performance that you won’t forget anytime soon, check out the Hamner Barber Show! Dave and Denise Hamner, husband and wife team and nationally acclaimed magicians, will put on a family friendly show for all ages at the Hamner Barber Theater on Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. Magical illusions such as The Fall of Death and The Lightning Levitation are performed by the Hamners, as well as their exclusive act where their beautiful Macaws and Cockatoos take flight around the theater amid falling coins, flying swords, jewels and fire. At the end of this captivating show, the Hamners put on a magical tribute to Veterans that will bring the audience to their feet. Book your tickets today!

For a fabulous magical experience that will surely make some magical memories, you’ll want to visit one of these great magic shows in Branson.

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It’s All Fun and Games in Branson Arcades

As you drive along the famous Highway 76, it’s hard to miss the go-kart tracks and mini-golf courses that dot the landscape. What you may not know is that some of those attractions have arcades inside their buildings. Young and old alike will love the chance to play some of the classic arcade games at these area attractions.

Branson’s Wild World is one of the attractions in Branson that has a number of arcade games available for guests. At Branson’s Wild World, you can experience wolves, sea creatures like bull sharks, crocodiles, alligators, turtles, lizards, and a whole host of interesting animals. In addition to the animals, Branson’s Wild World has a “Jungle Arcade.” This arcade has a number of pool tables available, along with classic video games and more. All games are free to play after a small fee, so come enjoy this arcade after you’ve enjoyed all the creatures as well. Branson’s Wild World is also available for birthday parties and other events. For more information, call 417-239-0854 or visit

Guests Enjoying A Branson ArcadeThe impressive wooden go-kart tracks along Highway 76 are also places where you can find great arcades. Tracks 3 and 5 have arcades that feature a variety of games, including dance games, driving games, Skee-Ball, and hunting/sporting games. You can play some games for tickets that you can redeem after you’re finished playing. You can also save your tickets so you can get a bigger prize later! Have some fun on the go-karts and bumper boats before and after your trip through the arcade games.

Grand Country Square is yet another place where you and your family can go to enjoy some arcade fun. From Guitar Hero to the Big Bass Wheel, there is something for everyone. You can redeem your tickets for prizes when you’re done. Some of the best technology lives at the Fun Spot at Grand Country.

So if you’re planning a trip to Branson, consider one of Branson’s arcades for a little family fun.

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The Majestic at Table Rock - Lakefront Vacation Condos

Thousand Hills Golf Resort has a fantastic set up off of Table Rock Lake called “The Majestic”. The Majestic is build right off Table Rock Lake giving a fantastic feeling of seclusion without the hour long drives to and from all the attractions in the city because the Majestic is only fifteen minutes away from the heart of Branson!

2-bedroom-branson-lake-condos-bedThe Majestic is often referred to as the crown Jewel of The Thousand Hills Golf Resort for good reason. The Majestic will be composed of two types of rooms, the Lake Front condos and the Lake View condos. The Lake Front condos are closer to the water with a grand view of the forest surrounding part of Table Rock Lake. The Lake Front condos are ideal for travelers who are looking for an exceptional room at an exceptional rate and can be viewed at our website at:

The soon-to-be reconstructed Lake View Majestic Condos will have one of the best views of Table Rock Lake combined with some of the highest quality rooms found in Branson Missouri. Keeping with the highest standards of luxury the new Majestic lake view condos will have all granite counter tops with stainless steel appliances in the kitchen and beautiful décor thought out the condo. All the Lake View condos at the majestic will have breath taking views from both the glassed in porch as well as the open porch on the back of each condo. The condos at the Majestic will range in sizes from the luxury two bedrooms up to four bedroom condos and are expected to be completed in April of 2014.

Don’t forget to bring your water crafts! The Majestic also has an easily accessed covered boat dock a short walk from the condos that leads straight to the heart of Table Rock. If you would like to rent water crafts the State Park Marina is approximately a mile away for The Majestic. Also, anytime you rent at the Majestic through Thousand Hills you will get the Platinum Experience book which gives discounts to over thirty attractions in Branson including the State Park Marina.

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Free Branson Activities - Branson On a Dime!

A vacation in Branson doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. There are many free or nearly free Branson activities within a short drive from Thousand Hills Golf Resort. My husband and I were both surprised how much our nephews enjoyed the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery and Conservation Center. It's a wonderful kid friendly free Branson activity. There are gumball machines filled with food to feed the trout for only 25 cents a pop. Nearby, across Table Rock Dam is the Dewey Short Visitors Center, with a nature trail that goes along the lake to the State Park Marina.

bransonlanding fire showDuring the summer there are free concerts at the Branson Landing, a fire and water show that is one of the most spectacular free Branson attractions, and clowns that make balloons for the children and other street performers.

On Sundays there are numerous free Branson Worship Services. There are so many great entertainers in Branson, and it’s not unusual to hear one of them singing on Sunday at an open service. Another free Branson show is The “Good News Gospel” with Leroy New and Friends which is at 9 a.m.Sundays, also at the “Little Opry Threater”.

Norma Jean of “The Porter Wagner Show” and “Grand ‘Ol Opry” fame have a free Sunday service at Cowboy Church and at the God and Country Theatre on Hwy 76. You never know who will show up and sing with her!

Dave Hamner of the Hamner & Barber Show and Wide World of Magic fame, recipients of many awards in the field of magic, just happens to also be an ordained Baptist minister, and has a morning service at his theater on Sunday, 10:00 a.m. He usually also offers all guests at his Sunday service a great discount off of any of the shows at his theater.

Barbara Fairchild also of Grand ‘Ol Opry fame and know for the Teddy Bear Song, has a free worship service at the Doug Gabriel Theatre located at 3750 W. Hwy 76 at 10:00 a.m. Barbara also has a great show at the Golden Corral for tips only.

Branson also has two wineries with free wine tasting tours. Try Stone Hill Winery or Mt. Pleasant Winery. Both are close together by the intersection of Green Mountain Drive and Hwy. 165., just a few blocks from the Branson lodging at Thousand Hills.

College of the Ozarks, known as “Hard Work U” has many free Branson activities that include Edwards Mill, a traditional working grist mill, and the Fruitcake and Jelly Kitchen where visitors can watch the students making the goodies & maybe even try a sample or two. Also view Williams Chapel which looks like it was transported from the Old Country, but was actually built by students of the college in 1956. The Ralph Foster Museum is low cost, and free for high school age and under, will entertain anyone for several hours. It has often been called “the Smithsonian” of the Ozarks.

While Branson is known for it's music, the other classical arts in Branson are well represented. And the best part is that almost all of these classic and modern arts can be seen for free!

Branson family activities are available for the whole family from 1 to 100. See some of the affordable options for your next family vacation!

These are just a few free Branson activity ideas to keep your budget tiny yet enjoy a gigantic, fun-filled Branson vacation

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They’re Always Biting When You Fish in Branson

Wouldn’t it be nice if fishing were as easy as Ernie from Sesame Street calling “Heeere fishy fishy fishy!” and having dozens of fish jump into your boat? Most fishermen will tell you that that is not often the case, but when you go fishing in Branson, the fish will certainly be biting, even if they don’t wind up leaping into the boat! The Branson/Tri-Lakes area offers some fantastic fishing that avid fisherman from around the country enjoy year after year. Where are some good spots to sink a line? Buy your gear? And what kinds of fish swim these waters? Read on to find out!

Brown Trout Caught in Lake TaneycomoWhere to fish: Table Rock Lake is a super spot to cast a line for some Branson fishing. This particular lake is well known for its bass population and its tendency to always have biting fish! There are numerous great spots along Table Rock’s shores to set down a picnic basket and a tackle box. Indian Point is a good location, along with the Table Rock State Marina, Table Rock State Park, and anywhere along the lake shore that is not specified as a fish hook free zone. For some terrific trout fishing, fish Lake Taneycomo. This lake is located below Table Rock, and Taneycomo’s waters are MUCH colder than Table Rock. A great spot to cast a line is right below the Table Rock Dam on the Taneycomo side – it is conveniently close to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery!

Where to buy your gear: If you are off to bait your hook, chances are that you will need to buy some fishing equipment! Fishing line, lures, jigs, hooks, sinkers, bobbers, nets, waders, and perhaps a new tackle box or fishing hat are probably on your list somewhere. Where is a good place to go to purchase your goods for your Branson fishing trip? Bass Pro on the Branson Landing is indeed a pro at supplying fishing equipment to visiting and area fishermen! Here you will find a versatile, useable selection of quality products, from outdoor clothing, to fishing poles, to the equipment you need to tie your own flies. If you are a fly fishing advocate, you’ll want to check out River Run Outfitters – they offer a full fly fishing shop and an expert guide service for a fly fishing experience you won’t quickly forget.

What fish you’ll find: There are a whole lot of fishy friends floating in the waters of Branson. Bass and trout are the most well-known species here – largemouth and smallmouth and striped bass, rainbow and brown trout are a big draw for tournament fishers every year. Other varieties for Branson fishing include: crappie, catfish, bluegill, sucker, carp, paddlefish, walleye, bullhead and warmouth. There is no shortage of fish to be pulled out of these lakes!

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert fisherman (or fisherwoman!), you will always find that the fish are biting on your Branson fishing trip!

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Groceries For Your Branson Condo Stay

There are a lot of benefits to staying in a Branson condo at Thousand Hills Hotel and Golf Resort. Thousand Hill’s condos are conveniently close to town, to attractions, to the area’s famous lakes, and to hospitals in the event of an emergency. Condos also offer more of a homey feel than a hotel room – they come complete with kitchens, TVs, porches, washers and dryers – all the amenities of a home. With such great features, it is highly likely that you’ll want to stay in to cook meals instead of leaving the condo comforts to brave the traffic of Branson at the suppertime hour. So bring home some groceries from area grocery stores to your Branson condo!

Thousand Hills Kitchens: Part of the convenience of a Branson condo is that one of the amenities included in most units is a fully supplied, ready to cook in kitchen – all you need are the groceries. Condo kitchens come equipped with utensils, dishes, appliances and of course, a place to eat your meal! Branson condo kitchens make a great place for a home cooked dinner for two, or a potluck lunch for a family reunion, or simply a place to make a quick sandwich before hitting the green for a round of golf. Again, just add groceries from one of the following great stores!

Wal-Mart: There are two conveniently located Wal-Mart stores in Branson. One store is located on Highway 76, and the other store is on Branson Hills Parkway. Wal-Mart is a great option for not just food items, but for toiletries, clothing, and medicinal items. Their everyday low prices and large selection will provide you with many of your grocery needs in one convenient location. A photo center and a sporting goods center are also offered for customers.

Country Mart: For more groceries than goods, visit the Branson Country Mart located on Highway 248. Country Mart offers a big selection of meats –beef, pork, chicken and more!- and a large variety of fresh produce, from greens to fruits. Country Mart also features a bistro/deli counter, a Starbucks and a floral department. Money orders and payroll cashing are also services offered by Country Mart.

Price Chopper Groceries in BransonRhodes Family Price Chopper: The soon to open Rhodes Family Price Chopper on West Highway 76 is a family owned business that takes pride in building their employees from the inside out while offering the public great groceries and services! Keep watching their website and Facebook page for grand opening dates and store coupons.

Amish Country Store: For more specialty food items, visit the unique Amish Country Store located on Gretna Road. Here you can purchase Amish made favorites like jams, jellies and preserves, Jake and Amos Pickles, Amish noodles, honey, Amish Popcorn, Amish Beef Jerky, as well as flour, pancake mixes, and lots of tasty pie fillings like Red Raspberry, Chocolate and Key Lime. Bulk spices, salsa and spiced peaches line the shelves here too! The Amish Country Store also carries a wide variety of coffees, such as Chocolate Almond, The Branson Blend and Pralines and Cream.

There is no shortage of great locations where you can purchase groceries for your fully equipped Branson condo kitchen at Thousand Hills. You’ll want to cook ALL your meals in during your enjoyable stay!

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A Rainy Day in Branson at Thousand Hills

Branson Rain ShowerIt’s a rainy morning at Thousand Hills Golf Resort. It’s just a prelude to the abundant sunny days that lay ahead as we welcome in the summer season. Even with the rain pounding a symphony against the lush greens and landscape, golfers peak from the doors of the Pro Shop hoping that the old saying “start raining before 7, ends by 11” rings true today.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee and baked cookies sweeten the lobby air as our guests linger for just a moment to deliberate chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar or oatmeal raisin for their drive home. “Thank you” and “Safe Travels” are exchanged as our guests stay comes to an end…until next time.

The sky now begins to give way to just a glimmer of sunshine as golfers begin to bustle with anticipation. Laughter and conversations fill the lobby. Guests begin visiting with our concierge for today’s Branson entertainment. Families are checking out basketball and shuffle board equipment. Pool towels are flying off the shelf. Groups are filtering in to attend their meetings. Mulligan’s restaurant fuels golfers for their next nine. Stories are exchanged.

The afternoon transitions to evening as our new guests arrive. Just another day at Thousand Hills Golf Resort

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