All Posts in Category: Branson Missouri

Things to do in Branson

Trip Advisor’s Top Things to do in Branson

Trip Advisor recently published a list of the top “Things to Do in Branson” on their popular travel site.

How many of these exciting Branson shows, attractions, and recreational venues have you visited? Are there some on the list that you have yet to experience? If so then Choose Branson has you covered!

                                                           

Titanic Museum Things to do in Branson

With artifacts that were pulled from the second expedition of the famous ship’s wreck site, the museum’s collection is valued at over $4 million. You can touch a growing iceberg, feel the chill of the 28-degree water, steer the ship, and honor the 2,208 people that were onboard. The museum has become a Branson icon that the entire family will enjoy!

Things to do in BransonRaiding the Country Vault 

This exciting show, featuring top talent within the country music industry, has quickly become a #1 choice by guests and critics alike. Be prepared to journey through the genre’s greatest hits as part of a stunning visual performance. The combination of lighting, energy, and musical ability is hard to beat. Country music fans have a must-see destination and it is right here in Branson!

Lilley’s Landing MarinaThings to do in Branson 

A peaceful, scenic resort and marina on Lake Taneycomo is a welcomed getaway in the heart of the Ozarks. Stop in and rent a jon, pontoon, or bass boat for a couple of hours or all day and hit the lake. Lake Taneycomo is home to some of the best trout fishing in the state, and you are welcome to cast right off of Lilley’s dock. Guided trips are also available!

Things to do in BransonSilver Dollar City 

Branson’s #1 attraction features world-class festivals, thrilling rides, live shows, unique shops, demonstrating craftsmen, and several restaurants all set against the backdrop of the 1800s. Come and brave the new $26 million ground-breaking coaster, Time Traveler. Enjoy the popular festivals such as the Bluegrass & BBQ festival. Everyone in the family will love this world-renowned theme park!

Branson Landing 

Enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment, and adventure all at Branson’s favorite location for gathering with friends and family. Stroll the boardwalk along Lake Taneycomo in beautiful downtown and find a whole world to explore. Top retailers such as Bass Pro Shop, Belk, and Kirkland’s call the Landing home. You can also stay right on property with the Hilton while you are in town. Making easy access to popular restaurants like Famous Dave’s and Joe’s Crab Shack just steps away!

 The Shepherd of the HillsThings to do in Branson

Branson’s famous outdoor theatre brings to life the pioneers of Southwest Missouri in the late 1800s. Harold Bell Wright’s classic novel is the inspiration for the live performance. Guests can also take in Ozark views from the top of Inspiration Tower during the day, or explore nature on an ATV excursion. Shepherd of the Hills has been a Branson staple for nearly 60 years and continues to evolve setting the bar for family fun!

Things to do in BransonStormy Point Village

Also included in Trip Advisor’s award winners, is Stormy Point Village. The Cape Cod themed resort is a Trip Advisor 2015 Hall of Fame winner as well as 2017 Certificate of Excellence winner.  Click here, to book a stay in one of the cottages at the exclusive resort now.

Enjoy on-site restaurants, pools, water park, gated entry, and convenient proximity to area attractions. Stormy Point Village truly is your home away from home in Branson, MO!

 

These may be some of Trip Advisor’s top things to do in Branson, but they are just a sampling of all that America’s favorite vacation destination has to offer. Choose Branson has many great packages that include many of the area attractions and hotel stays for the entire family.

There is no need to wait any longer to visit the places that Trip Advisor is raving about. Click on the Deals tab at the top of the page now and book your Branson getaway today!

Top Branson Winter Activities for Families

Top Branson Winter Activities for Families

By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

 

The winter in Branson can no doubt be dreary at times. When the weather doesn’t always cooperate – there are still plenty of great indoor activities to enjoy.

Here some of our favorite activities around town. You will want to try these out this winter.

 
Grand Country Fun Spot

Grand Country features three indoor mini-golf courses. There is the black light course, the farm-themed course, and 36-hole course – named one of the Top Ten mini golf courses by USA Today. Need to move at a higher speed? Try Grand Country’s indoor go-karts. Race through a 525 foot, multi-level track. The Fun Spot is also home to a state of the art arcade which includes laser tag.

 
Escape Rooms Top Branson Winter Activities for Families

Use your wits to get you and your family out of a tight situation. Branson is home to multiple escape rooms – including Escape Code Branson and The Escape Branson. These fun-filled games have a wide range of stories and themes. They deliver a unique experience every time.

 
Butterfly Palace

Nestled on the west end of Highway 76, the Butterfly Palace is an interactive, educational attraction for all ages. Complete with a rain forest adventure home to several reptiles and amphibians. There is no other experience like it in the area. Walk among more than a thousand tropical butterflies from around the world in the butterfly aviary.

 
Ripley’s Believe It or NotTop Branson Winter Activities for Families

Shrunken heads. 22-foot tall Transformers. A shrine to the worst earthquake in the country’s history – you will find it all at Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The 12,000 square foot attraction is home to over 400 exhibits, artifacts, and oddities. You will not find a collection like this anywhere else.

 
Bigfoot on the Strip

This unique Branson attraction features indoor and outdoor activities. All themed around the legendary Sasquatch. Bigfoot Adventure Golf, Bigfoot Arcade, Yeti Fun Zone & Monkey Jump, and Bigfoot’s 8Di Action Ride are some of the great attractions you will find here. There are also indoor party spaces perfect to celebrate those winter birthdays!

 
Branson Scenic Railway

Take a ride on a vintage passenger train through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. This nearly two-hour excursion takes you throughout southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Features breathtaking wilderness views. You can also catch a glimpse of vacated communities that are now only named on railroad maps.

 
Arcade CityTop Branson Winter Activities for Families

The newest attraction at the Branson Landing is the ultimate arcade experience. Arcade City not only features many of the leading games available, but there are also great attractions. The 7D Dark Ride Adventure and Corn Mirror Maze. The arcade itself combines a mixture of modern and classic games sure to please gamers of all ages. The 7D Dark Ride Adventure combines the thrill of a roller coaster with the interaction of a first-person shooter. Make your way through the Corn Mirror Maze where nothing is quite as it seems.

There is so much to do in Branson year ’round. Bring the whole family and make some memories this winter. Choose Branson has several great vacation packages to help you plan the perfect wintertime getaway.

Check out our deals site to book your trip now!

 

New Years Eve

New Year’s Eve Events in Branson – 2017

@EricBoston3 @ChooseBranson

Hughes Brothers “From Christmas to New Year’s Eve Show!”
What is better than one award winning show? Well two of course. The Hughes Brothers are celebrating the new year a day early with their amazing “Hughes Brothers Christmas Show” and “it” on Saturday, December 30, 2017. The fun starts at 8pm and includes dinner. When the balloon drops at midnight don’t head for the door, get on the dance floor instead!

Hamners’ New Year’s Eve Fiesta
Spend a relaxing evening at the Hamners Variety Theater on Sunday, December 31, 2017. The night begins with food service starting at 8pm, followed by Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show at 9pm. Contests, party favors and food from Mexican Villa will make this New Year’s celebration “magical”.

New Years Eve

The Showboat Branson Belle

Clay Cooper Theatre “Light Up the New Year!”
It’s a Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve which means Branson’s biggest family-friendly party of the year! Reserve your tickets now to guarantee your spot. Doors open at 7:30pm with The Haygoods taking the stage at 8:30pm. Intermission includes Hors d’oeuvres and a Cash Bar. At 10:50 Clay Cooper’s Country Express roars into the finale where Clay is joined by the Haygoods. At midnight the balloon drops as the new year is toasted (non-alcoholic of course).

Silver Dollar City’s “New Year’s Celebration”
“Celebrate the end of one amazing year and the beginning of a brand-new one.” Head out to Silver Dollar City on December 31, 2017 for an entertainment packed night. Christian rock band Disciple bring a celebration of faith and hope for 2018. Travel back in time to the “Golden Age of radio” at the ol’ Silver Dollar Saloon and be a part of a special New Year’s Eve broadcast of radio station KSDC. Juggler, comedian and variety artist Albert Lucas will bring his smile inducing performance to the Playhouse. Branson’s own award winning show “AYO” with the Voices of Glory will also be a part of the celebration. Finally dance in the New Year with Members Only at the Red Gold Heritage Hall Dance Party.

“New Year’s Eve Cruise” on the Landing Princess
Live DJ, dancing, games and prizes can all be found on this 21-and-up cruise brought to you by Main Street Lake Cruises. Your ticket gets you access to party favors, Hors d’oeuvres, dessert bar and a full-service cash bar. There will also be a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight.

New Years Eve

The Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks.

The Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks
On Saturday, December 30, 2017 make reservations for a four-course meal featuring a specially prepared menu. Enjoy dancing, live music and a sparkling cider toast. Come back on Sunday for a New Year’s Eve Sunday Brunch.

Branson Belle “New Year’s Eve Cruise”
The Showboat Branson Belle will host a special New Year’s Eve Cruise on Sunday, December 31, 2017. The boat ships out at 8pm and features a musical variety show along with a 3-course meal.

Good Eats

Good Eats: Pizza World in Branson MO

By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

When you spend time in a town other than your own what is one of the first things you do? You ask the locals where you need to eat. It doesn’t matter if you are on a family trip, or traveling solo on business, pizza is always a top option. If you want some of the best pizza in Branson, and to support a great local business, then Pizza World is the spot.

The first thing that you need to know is that, while the pizza is great, Pizza World offers much more than just tasty pies. From the moment you walk in the staff at Pizza World treats you like a friend that they have been looking forward to seeing. It is definitely a welcoming atmosphere.

Start your meal off with Garlic Bread, Bread Stix, or Toasted Ravioli from Pizza World’s Appetizers menu. In the mood for something a bit lighter? You may want to try one of their ten (10) different Salad options. From traditional Garden and Side Salads, Caesar, Greek and Spinach to specialty salads such as Southwest Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Chef and the Deluxe Antipasto they are a great way to begin your Pizza World experience.

Good Eats

The Big World gets created.

Getting ready for the big game? Pizza World has you covered there as well. Grab an order of their Crispy Wings, they come in 10 and 20 piece sizes. You will want to try all of the great flavors offered including Spicy Thai, Mango Habanero, BBQ, Garlic Parmesan, Buffalo and Spicy Garlic. Pair the wings with Pizza World’s Oven Baked Subs and you have the perfect party combination.

With nine (9) subs to choose from you will be able to please everyone. Might we suggest the Bacon Lovers BLT? After all, everything is better with Bacon. Speaking of bacon, you can add it to any of the subs you wish including the Hot Italian Sub, Spicy Thai Chicken, Chicken Caesar and Buffalo Chicken Subs. Feeling more traditional? The Meatball, Ham & Cheese, Turkey and Veggie are always on standby.

All of this and we haven’t even talked about pizza yet. Well get ready to wait just little longer, because there is more. Pizza World also offers great tasting Baked Pastas and Calzones. The Baked Ziti, Chicken Alfredo and Manicotti are perfect meals all on their own and make for a great workday lunch. Perhaps you are like me and want something to call yours while the kids are devouring a pizza own their own. The Chef’s Calzone is an amazing blend of Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheeses. You can even create your own Calzone with your choice of two toppings.

With so many excellent options you want to make sure you save room for the best thing on Pizza World’s menu…the pizza! It all starts with the dough, which is made fresh daily. A wide variety of Meats, Vegetables, Cheeses and Specialty Toppings allow you to create your own masterpiece that will have your taste buds singing!

If you have a hard time choosing that perfect combination, there is help. Pizza World has 17 Gourmet Pizza choices. You are going to want to try them all! Divided into three different categories (Chicken, Vegetarian and Ultimate Gourmet) these creations are what sets Pizza World apart.

Gourmet Chicken Pizzas

Good Eats

The Big World

Alfredo, Texas Bar-B-Que, Buffalo, Spicy Thai, Caesar are flavors that can be found. We would like to highlight two additional options. The Taste of Chicago is “straight from the Windy City”. It is made with Ricotta, chicken, spinach, bacon & tomatoes. Then there is my personal favorite, the Chicken Bacon Ranch. It is chicken and bacon residing on top of creamy ranch dressing & mozzarella. It is pie that is hard to beat. That doesn’t mean that Pizza World doesn’t try!

Vegetarian

The Via Bianco is an olive oil glaze that is topped with provolone, mozzarella, Swiss, fresh basil and oregano. Ciao Bella features your choice of tomato sauce or the olive oil glaze with basil, tomatoes, garlic & mozzarella. For a taste of Greece try the Grecian Gourmet as it is layered with Feta, black olives, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes & mozzarella. If you are looking for the ultimate in veggie style pizza then the Le Gardeaux is for you. It is a deluxe mix of red onions, green peppers, black olives, mushrooms and tomatoes all piled on a bed of mozzarella.

Ultimate Gourmet

Choose Branson with the Pizza World crew

The six (6) specialties are perfect examples of why Pizza World stands out from the competition. For starters the Meat Grande Wow! is piled high with every kind of meat topping you can imagine. Ole Mexicana takes you south of the border with an unique combination of refried beans, salsa, black olives, tomatoes, beef, red onions, jalapenos, cheddar and cilantro. The Classic Supreme brings Pizza World’s flavor to an all-time favorite. Want a taste of the Old World? The Amore Roma delivers pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms and black olives. Then there is the Americana that is a bacon cheeseburger pizza made from a mustard glaze. Finally, don’t miss out on Pizza World’s signature dish – the Appondanza. Made with a whopping 12 toppings including: mozzarella, pepperoni, beef, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, bacon, pork sausage, salami, mushrooms, black olives, tomatoes, green peppers & red onions – this pizza is not for the faint of heart.

Speaking of which there is one item left that is for the bravest of the brave. The Pizza World “Big World” Challenge has defeated all, but one of its adversaries. The Big World is a 24”, seven (7) pound pizza. The challenge? Two people – One Big World – 30 minutes. Choose Branson sent its most daring duo into battle against this monster. We came out the other side defeated and cloaked in humility…but the pizza was amazing! “Are you up for the Big World?”

Assuming you have a little room for more, finish off with one of Pizza World’s Dessert menu items. Cinnamon Rolls, Fresh Baked Cookie and Cinnamon Stix with Frosting hit the spot for any sweet-tooth enthusiast.

Stop by either Pizza World location – on Highway 76 or Cross Creek Blvd – in Branson. If you need it delivered that is no problem as they cover the whole of Branson, plus a little more.

If you mention Choose Branson when ordering at their Cross Creek location, or print out the coupon located below, and you will receive 10% of your purchase. Give them a call at 417.334.4445 or visit them at PizzaWorldOnline.com

Pizza World Interview from Choose Branson on Vimeo.

Good Eats

Choose Branson 10% coupon

Veterans Events 2017

Branson Homecoming Week: Veterans Events 2017

Branson is home to America’s largest annual celebration honoring America’s veterans and active military servicemen and women of all service branches.

Every year, thousands of veterans and active military personnel unite in Branson where the entire community participates in giving back to those who serve. With the core value of patriotism supporting the foundation of the municipal Community Plan 2030, visitors find a variety of exhibits throughout the city demonstrating our commitment to honor those who serve and protect our homeland.

The annual Veterans Week celebration in Branson draws thousands of veterans where they participate in a multitude of events, reunions, parades and special recognition ceremonies across the Ozarks. From the Veteran’s Memorial Gardens where the City of Branson in partnership with Silver Dollar City and memorial founder Ben Kimmel placed a 12-man military statue to demonstrate our gratitude to those who fought for our freedom in Vietnam, to the newly completed ‘Liberty Plaza’ city park in Historic Downtown Branson that pays tribute to all military branches throughout its landscape; the Missouri Veterans Memorial located on the campus of College of the Ozarks to the Veterans Memorial Museum that proudly displays more than 2,000 artifacts dating back to WW1 along with its newest exhibit – the very Huey UH-1C Huey Gunship (endearingly named ‘The Bandit’ by its pilot) that was flown with the 118th Thunderbirds during Vietnam – and displays more than 2,000 artifacts and combat icons dating back to World War 1; or the demonstration of American pride wherein Veterans are openly recognized and saluted by entertainers and audiences throughout the entertainment district and at special flag-raising ceremonies at Silver Dollar City Attractions, to the gathering of thousands of spectators and participants during the Veterans Day Parade held every November 11 at 11:00AM.

According to Tom Newman, Chief Operating Officer of Summer Winds Resorts, LLC, “It is the mutual duty, honor and privilege of our city to maintain awareness of the courage and bravery of America’s defenders – our stewards of freedom. We are committed to continuing to recognize those who gave all, and those who place their lives on the line to protect the rights we enjoy as American citizens.” Beginning November 5 and running through November 11, our Veterans and active military personnel will once again have the opportunity to participate in a multitude of events designed especially to honor the work of these heroes. Ballparks of America is the new home of the annual Veterans Village where our military guests will enjoy the outpouring of Ozark Mountain hospitality including food, shopping, reunions and special ceremonies in their honor where Branson residents and businesses serve those who currently serve or have served our great country. Literally everywhere you go in Branson, you will find that citizens of Branson are dedicated to encourage and foster patriotism and provide recognition to all Veterans for their courage and willingness to serve.

We’ve compiled a schedule of events taking place across the community and invite all visitors to participate. Stormy Point Village and Choose Branson continue to also do their part to honor our Veterans with special discounts and events which can be found on Facebook at Facebook.com/StormyPointVillage and Facebook.com/Choose.Branson.  Check back often as new events and stories covering Veterans Week 2017 will be updated regularly!

 

VETERANS WEEK 2017 (see entire schedule of events here)

 

Fourth Annual Trout Tournament  (October 28)

Located at Scotty’s Trout Dock & Marina http://www.scottystroutdock.com/, grab a buddy and get your lines in the water. The tournament, which is sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America, will have cash prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams.

Vets for Vets Celebration (November 5)

This free event is at the Mansion Theatre located at 189 Expressway Lane. It is a special 2 pm show where no ticket it required. Donations are appreciated.

Opening Ceremony of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall (November 6)

This ceremony, which begins at 10 am, will make a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial available to the public. The wall will be located at the Welk Resort during the Homecoming Celebration and will include more than 58,000 names.

Vietnam Era Reunion (November 6)

The Clay Cooper Theater will host this special reunion event. Tickets for the 10 am Hot Rods and High Heels Show will reserve a spot for lunch and an afternoon show as well.

Flag Raising and Wreath Laying Ceremony (November 10)

The College of the Ozarks will host a special Flag Raising and Wreath Laying Ceremony near the Williams Memorial Chapel at sunrise.

Veterans Day Parade (November 11)

The parade through the heart of downtown Branson will begin at 11 am. Make sure to show up early and find a good spot. Organizations are welcome to participate in the event, please contact the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 913 to get set up.

We hope to see you in Branson during Veterans Week. While you are here make sure to say thank you and shake the hand of those who served to protect this great country.

 

@ChooseBranson

Hitting for Heroes

Benefit the Badge Softball Tournament

By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

This Sunday – October 15, 2017 – show your support for the Branson area law enforcement agencies.

Teams from Branson West, Branson, along with Taney and Stone County will meet at the Ballparks of America for the Benefit the Badge “Hitting for Heroes Fall Classic” softball tournament. The first game is at 1:00 PM on the Chicago field with Branson West facing Branson. At 2:30 PM the Taney and Stone County teams will square off, also on the Chicago field.

The series’ championship game will be at 4:00 PM on the St. Louis field. Have the entire family with you to help support this great event. There will be inflatables set up for kids (there is a small charge for inflatables), as well as food from Big BBQ Boyz.

Benefit the Badge’s goal is to “ensure local law enforcement agencies have the tools they need” and “serves as an example of how to honor law enforcement.” If you would like more information you can check out Benefit the Badge on their official website here  and on Facebook here.

Benefit the Badge

Official poster for the Hitting for Heroes Softball Tournament

Ballparks of America

Ballparks of America Voted One of America’s Must See Complexes

SportsEvents Magazine polled their readers and Facebook followers to vote for the top “American Ballparks Every Planner Must See”. A list of 28 baseball and softball fields and facilities was narrowed down to nine top complexes across the country.

Ballparks of America

Team prepares for play at Ballparks of America

“These nine ballparks are shining stars that make players and their families feel like they’ve been sent up to the big leagues.”

Branson’s “Ballparks of America” came in number four on SportsEvents Magazine’s list. The top three spots went to Elizabethtown Sports Park in Elizabethtown, KY (1), Choccolocca Park in Oxford, AL (2) and Youngsville Sports Complex in Youngsville, LA (3). At number four it shows you the impression the Ballparks of America has made in a short time.

The complex has been open for just over a year, hosting its inaugural game on July 7, 2016. It offers players and parents an experience unlike any other. With 2/3 scale replicas of iconic ballparks from Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York and St. Louis it definitely delivers the big league atmosphere. The complex is equipped with big league suites that house teams during their tournament weeks.

Since its opening Ballparks of America has received glowing reveiws, like this one on the official Facebook page:
“We brought our U12 FirstStrike Baseball team from Orlando, FL and they had a blast. We
were able to play eight games, hit up the water park, Silver Dollar City and some go-carts on the
strip. We had a couple of kids that have been to Cooperstown (home of the Major League
Baseball Hall of Fame) and they said they enjoyed this just as much if not more.”

With its growing reputation not only is Ballparks of America sure to climb to the top of lists such as the SportsEvents Magazine’s “American Ballparks Every Planner Must See”, but it is yet another reason why Branson continues to be one of America’s top family destinations.

Ballparks Interview Ext from Choose Branson on Vimeo.

Fall Scene

Fall Foliage: 2017 Fall Drive in Ozark Mountain Country

Do you ever feel the need to just get out and drive? I’m talking about rolling down the windows, putting on some good music, and taking off with no real place to go. Autumn in Branson is a great time to cruise.

Taking in the Ozarks scenery during the fall season is a great way to spend a part of any day. If you are considering taking a tour through Ozark Mountain country, then allow us to suggest a route that is sure to please.

Fall Drive

2017 Choose Branson Fall drive map route

·         Begin at Stormy Point Village

·         At the corner of Stormy Point Road and Hwy 265 take a right on Hwy 265

·         Just after Chateau on the Lake, take a right and stay on 265 until it connects with the 265/165 intersection. Take a right to stay on 265 until you reach Hwy 65

·         Turn right onto Hwy 65 South,  exit right to Hwy 86 near Top of the Rock

·         Follow 86 until it connects with Hwy 13 in Blue Eye, take a right onto 13

·         Continue on 13, you witll go over the Kimberling City bridge and finally into Branson West

·          Turn right at the Hwy 76 Junction. Stay on 76 until you reach Ozark Mountain Highroad/465 and take a left at the traffic light

·         Stay on 465 until you reach the Hwy 248 exit and take a right. Stay on 248 until you reach the junction for Shepherd of the Hills Expy and make a right

·         Stay on this road until you reach Hwy 265, take a right at the light and then an immediate left to return to Stormy Point Village.

Choose Branson Remembers the Events of September 11, 2001

While September 11, 2001 grows deeper into history over time, our attachment to that day grows stronger as we seek to never forget the events that strengthened the bonds to further unite America’s people. To some, the War on Terror is very personal as they recall media coverage, personal experiences or perhaps even lost a loved one on that day. Today’s younger generations, on the other hand may only be familiar through conversation that takes place at the dinner table among their parents and grandparents. At the age of 19 on September 11, 2001, however, my personal recollection of that day reflects the routine of a college student but has transitioned to a personal mission to exhibit my commitment to patriotism.

I can vividly remember walking into the dorm’s lounge and seeing the images of buildings in New York with smoke rolling out of them. I remember trying to get filled in as quickly as possible as to what was happening. As a 19 year old kid, while I knew this event was a big deal, I’m not sure that I fully understood the importance of what was happening at that moment, and routinely went about my day…I still went to classes and my campus job; my day did not stand still.

Time has allowed the emotion to sink in, however, and having friends who now serve as one of Branson’s hometown defenders, their pledge to serve and protect the community in which I am now raising my own children.

Matt Eaves, my friend and former classmate at College of the Ozarks, is now a Branson Fire & Rescue engineer. Matt and I initially met at the College of the Ozarks firehouse where he was studying to become a firefighter some day. He remembers going to class that morning to find everyone huddled around a computer to watch the events unfolded over national television.

“It was kind of weird. I hadn’t been in the fire service that long; I didn’t have a huge connection to it yet. So the actual events on that particular day were not as big of a deal as it has become to me now.”

“Being around the fire service as long as I have, it (9/11) really becomes emotional… what we say in the fire service world is to ‘not forget’ says Eaves. The Branson Fire Department goes the extra mile to ensure its service men and women never forget. On Thursday, they added a name of one of their fellow firefighters from 9-11 onto their riding board to carry with them throughout the day. “We carry their memories with us, especially this month. “

“For me, the experience of 9/11 has changed from the time it happened – especially after being a part of the fire service for 16 years since then.”

One person who was already well entrenched in the fire service during the events of September 11, 2001 was Branson Fire Chief Ted Martin. Martin said in an interview, “On September 11, we were staffed here at the fire station and saw the first impact on television. As we were watching that news story develop it was obvious that the country was under attack. We were a thousand miles away and loaded with firefighters who were ready to go, but we still had a community to serve.”

“We could hear the personal safety devices that were worn by firefighters in the background [of the news report] going off. We knew there were a lot of injured firefighters. That was hard to listen to here, locally. It was one big challenge to be sitting this far away and not be able to do anything about it, but to simply focus on our brothers and sisters in the fire service and emergency service,” added Chief Martin.

Taking the time to focus on those who were directly impacted by this national tragedy is something that Branson takes very seriously. College of the Ozarks is home to the September 11 “Lest We Forget Memorial” which includes one of the last remaining remnants of the World Trade Center, which is part of their memorial.  Marci Linson who is the Deans of Admissions at the college is also the Vice President of Patriotic Activities and shared her memories of that day: “I was working in the admissions office and one of my colleagues on campus called and said ‘have you seen the news?’ It all unfolded from there. I remember being very, very frightened because we didn’t know what was going on.”

While Matt and myself where students at College of the Ozarks at that time, students enrolled there today ranged in age of two to four years old. They know about what happened, but its impact may not be the same. It is the goal of Linson and the college to make sure that they understand the emotion involved.

“As I oversee Patriotic Activities that include special events and ceremonies, we make sure that we remember 9/11 every year. Of course the college has made it a priority to honor 9/11 heroes every year; we are blessed with the opportunity to handle it. We have children from daycare all the way up through college. It’s not just about remembering – it’s about making sure the younger generations know. We want them to know, even the hard things.”

These efforts not only reach the residents and visitors of Branson, but the local service men and women take notice as well. For those like Matt Eaves it is not taken for granted.

“With all of the different events and the media coverage, the general feeling of Branson residents and visitors is that you’re always getting a ‘thanks for your service’ and ‘Thank You’. We had a lady come up to us the other day, very emotional, saying thank you about a call we ran – not even our crew but one of the crews in Branson – that basically saved her life. “

“It’s not even just about the firefighters or the emergency responders; it is about all of the people that passed away that day. I think Branson does a good job at remembering and honoring their memories. I appreciate the different events and lengths the different businesses and organizations go to, it is done very tastefully. It’s not a ‘Hey look at us’, it’s providing a venue to remember.”

Chief Martin seconds Eaves’ belief. “It [Branson] turned into a community that is really resilient in serving and working with other communities that were affected…and by remembering.”

This year Branson is proud to continue its tradition of honoring America’s heroes and hometown defenders. Throughout the month of September, all Fire & Rescue, EMT, law enforcement, active military personnel and veterans will receive free admission to Silver Dollar City, and half-price admission for their spouse. For the rest of us, I encourage all to join me in my challenge to take time to reflect and never forget.

Shorty Smalls

Good Eats: Shorty Small’s

By: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

Spending a day in Branson includes several items on the average to-do list. Making time to visit shows, shopping, and countless outdoor activities are all options. One thing that everyone has to do while in town is eat. One of the best options around now resides in the former Andy Williams’ Moon River Grill.

Shorty Small’s has been serving up great Southern dishes and top notch BBQ in Branson for years. Sitting in the heart of the 76 strip, it makes for easy access to grab a meal that is sure to give you the fuel you need as you tour Branson. Be warned, Shorty’s makes sure to fill you up. Their portions are, should we say, “shareable”. As the staff says, “Everybody walks out full!”

Don’t worry if you stop in and there is a line (remember a wait at a restaurant is a good sign), Shorty’s has plenty to keep you entertained while your table is prepared for you. Make sure to get your free digital selfie at their photo booth. The crew here at ChooseBranson had a blast picking out props and getting our picture taken. Not only can you get a digital copy sent to your phone via text, but the staff can print out top quality photographs on the spot. They also offer a package that includes photos, t-shirts, and a bounce-back coupon at an excellent value.

Once seated the best place to start any meal is with an appetizer. Shorty’s Famous Onion Loaf is made up of sliced onions that have been breaded and deep-fried. The onion loaf comes in two different sizes and includes Chipotle Ranch dip on the side.

The Macho Nachos are “bunches and bunches” of tortilla chips covered with meaty chili, charro beans, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, lettuce and sour cream. The half-order hits the spot, but if you are feeling adventurous then give the full-order a run.

Who doesn’t love a good Mozzarella stick? At Shorty Small’s they take fried cheese to another level. How about a Mozzarella stick the size of a Twinkie? Once you get a grip on this bad boy, make sure you dunk it in Sadie’s special marina sauce.

Sadie's Breath

Sadie’s Breath, Photo by Gabe Rawling

A refreshing cocktail is always a way to wash down any appetizer or meal. Try Shorty’s version of a hurricane, the “Sadie’s Breath”. It is a mixture of light and dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine. Topped off with an orange wedge and cherry, it really hits the spot.

When it comes to choosing a main course Shorty Small’s has a wide variety to choose from. Whether it’s homestyle burgers, salads, sandwiches, soup, BBQ, or steaks no matter the choice it is sure to please your appetite. Let us suggest some of Shorty’s classic menu items.

Check out the House Favorites and see why Shorty Small’s is a hit with locals and visitors alike. The World Famous Catfish platter includes farm-raised strips of “fried-just-right” catfish and includes a pile of french fries, as well as homemade coleslaw, on the side.

The Roasted Chicken feels just like something that grandma would make on a Sunday afternoon. An oven-roasted half chicken that has been lightly-seasoned and comes with helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. It is a picture perfect plate that you may feel shouldn’t be disturbed. Except that it tastes amazing so there is no chance of that!

If you are someone who enjoys a good challenge then get ready. Shorty Small’s is the home of the World’s Largest Chicken Fried Steak. This hand-breaded steak is topped with country gravy and is so big the platter can barely contain it. Add-in seasoned fries and coleslaw for the ultimate filler-upper. But let me tell you it is worth taking on. It may very well be the best thing on the menu. Perhaps you should find that out for yourself!

You cannot be in the Ozarks and not enjoy some great BBQ. Shorty Small’s “Jumpin’-Off-The-Bone” Ribs will rival the best around. Marinated loin-back ribs, that have been basted with their house sauce, will have you lickin’ your fingers and coming back for more. They are simply THAT GOOD!

After catching Illusionist Rick Thomas at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center & Theatre why not come across the street and finish your night off with a something a little sweet. Ask for a table in the Andy room and check out the wall of portraits of the legendary performer with other musical acts you are sure to recognize. Nibbling on a fantastic desert is the “icing on the cake”.

The Cookie Monster is a chocolate chip, brownie sundae. Topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel, chocolate, whipped cream, nuts, and of course a cherry. Everyone in the family will want to grab a spoon and dive into this delicious treat.

If you prefer a desert with a bit more warmth to it, then don’t pass up the Sizzlin’ Apple Pie. Brought to your table on a sizzlin’ skillet this pie has been baked to perfection. Filled with handpicked apples and topped with vanilla ice cream, the kicker is when your server pours Shorty’s brandy butter sauce over the giant slice right at your table. Not only will the steam rise, but so will your anticipation.

Outdoor Patio

Shorty Small’s outdoor patio. Photo by Gabe Rawling

This Fall will be a great time to stop by and relax on Shorty Small’s outdoor patio. Complete with fire pit, it is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends, hear some live music, and maybe even sight Shorty’s unofficial mascots (two groundhogs and a large bullfrog). Grab a drink from the bar off of their Fall drink specials.

The Fall lineup will include the Top Shelf Margarita, Branson Mule, and BBQ Bacon Bloody Mary which includes strips of bacon and Shorty’s house BBQ sauce.

So whether you are grabbing lunch before heading back out on the Branson trail, or looking for a night filled with good food and entertainment, Shorty Small’s needs to be at the top of your list. With a great menu and awesome atmosphere it is truly one of Branson’s gems!