Archive for the 'Branson' Category


Team Garmin-Chipotle’s Christian Vande Velde (USA) crossed the finish line in downtown St. Louis to safely hang onto the Missouri Tourism Yellow Jersey as overall winner of the 2008 Tour of Missouri.

Vande Velde, winner of Branson’s Stage Three Individual Time Trial on Wednesday, September 10, successfully maintained his 18-second lead in the 52.3 mile Stage 7 circuit race over second place General Classification winner Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Columbia, and over Svein Tuft (CAN) of Symmetrics’s, the third place finisher in the overall championship.

Vande Velde, 32, who currently resides in Boulder, Colorado, finished fifth in the 2008 Tour de France.

After his Tour of Missouri win, Vande Velde told Tour of Missouri officials “I didn’t expect to win the [Branson] time trial, but from then on, it was game on with everyone throwing everything at us, trying to take away the 21-second gap I had from the time trial. In the end, I was happy that everyone gave us such a fight because the win means that much more to us.”

Congratulations to Christian Vande Velde, Team Garmin-Chipotle, all 200 competing cyclists and the Tour of Missouri staff and volunteers for delivering a tremendous 2008 Tour of Missouri!

Photo Courtesy of Team Garmin-Chipotle


American Vande Velde Wins Branson Tour of Missouri Time Trial

Lemont, Illinois native Christian Vande Velde, riding for Team Garmin-Chipotle, won Stage 3 Individual Time Trials of the Tour of Missouri in Branson this afternoon. His victory on the difficult 18 mile Branson course propelled him into the Tour of Missouri overall lead.

He completed the hilly Ozarks course in 39 minutes 52 seconds, 20 seconds ahead of Australian and three-time world time-trial champion Michael Rogers of Team Columbia. Svein Tuft of the Canadian Symmetrics team was third with a time of 40:25, and defending champion George Hincapie (USA) of Team Columbia was fourth.

Vande Velde, 32, has enjoyed a fruitful 2008 including a 5th overall finish at the Tour de France and a 3rd overall finish at the 2008 Tour of California.

Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who wore the yellow jersey as the winner of the first and second stages of the Tour of Missouri, finished more than four minutes behind Vande Velde.

Vande Velde photo courtesy & copyright of Team Garmin-Chipotle.

Cavendish photo courtesy of

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Branson Mourns the Passing of Former Mayor Lou Schaefer

Louis E. ‘Lou’ Schaefer, former Mayor of Branson, passed away early Tuesday morning, September 9 at the age of 80. He served as mayor from 1995 to 2007 in an unprecedented six consecutive terms.

A champion of strong economic development, Mayor Schaefer led Branson through periods of robust, unparalleled growth. From 2004 through 2007 alone, more than $580 million worth of new construction was undertaken with the creation of the Branson Convention Center and hotel complex, Branson Landing and the adjacent waterfront expansion, and the development of Branson Hills in the northern sector of the city. During his tenure, Branson reportedly expanded its city limits from eight square miles to its present 20 square miles.

In 1996 Mayor Schaefer, long noted for focusing on critical environmental issues, organized a regional conference on water quality which became the precursor to the highly-touted James River Basin Partnership. Under his direction, Branson became the first city in Missouri to install phosphorus removal/retrieval equipment on its wastewater treatment plants. Additionally, Mayor Schaefer took advantage of annexation to remove hazardous septic systems which threatened the area’s watershed.

A proud member of the United States Marine Corps, Mayor Schaefer was a prominent supporter of Branson’s daily commitment to our nation’s military. During the Veterans Homecoming, the nationally recognized annual event honoring and welcoming Veterans to Branson, it was not unusual for him to make personal appearances at dozens of the events held during the seven day events each November 5–11.

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A Branson Vacation is Still a Great Value

In an article written by Marcus Kabel for the Associated Press/ Salt Lake City Deseret News entitled ‘Family Friendly Branson Weathers Tourism Slump’ a simple message rings through:

Branson’s tourism industry enjoys some resiliency during these trying economic times.

Quoted in the August 31, 2008 piece are Dan Lennon, V.P. of the Branson Area Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Peter Herschend, Co-founder of Herschend Family Entertainment, which in Branson owns Silver Dollar City, the water park Whitewater, Celebration City, Showboat Branson Belle and various other attractions, and Steve Morse, an economist and director of the Tourism Institute at the University of Tennessee.

Some interesting observations:

> The daily hotel rate in Branson is 75% of the national average.

> Average show ticket prices in Branson are only 25% of what they are in Las Vegas. Tickets are often times $100+ on Broadway in New York.

> In 2006 and 2007, Branson’s visitor numbers grew approximately 14%, compared with 3% nationally.

> The City of Branson reports that nearly 60% of Branson visitors originate from outside a radius of 300 miles. 28% come from between 100 and 300 miles and 12% of visitors are defined as local.

> Branson is on track to hit the projected 3% growth in tourism goal for 2008.

To read the full Branson article visit Salt Lake City’s Deseret News at:

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Branson to Host 2008 Tour of Missouri Time Trials

Branson, Missouri will once again play host to the acclaimed professional cycling event, Tour of Missouri, slated for September 8-14, 2008. One hundred twenty of the world’s premier cyclists will compete in 7 stages of this challenging 600+ mile trek.

Following a wildly successful inaugural Tour of Missouri in 2007, this year’s race will take riders, representing 15 teams and more than 20 countries, from St. Joseph, the historic site of the Pony Express, through the Ozarks, over the Katy Trail and the Mark Twain National Forrest, along the celebrated Route 66 and the winding Missouri River, with a brilliant finish at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The Tour of Missouri, sanctioned internationally by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and nationally by USA Cycling, is ranked only behind the Tour de Georgia and Amgen Tour of California for North American cycling events.

The Branson Stage

Daily races range from 75 miles to 125 miles, but Branson will host the 18 mile Stage 3 Time Trials which many teams believe to be all-important towards an overall win. Starting at The Branson Landing, the new commercial waterfront development on Lake Taneycomo in the downtown district of Branson, cyclists face what 2007 Tour of Missouri champion George Hincapie describes as “the hardest time trial course” he’d ever ridden.

In reverse order of their ranking, cyclists start in intervals of one minute each until the final 10 riders, who set out in two minute intervals. The course features a relentless grind through the hilly terrain around Branson, one of America’s favorite vacation hotspots.

To see an interactive map of the Branson leg of the Tour of Missouri please visit:

And for more information from the official Tour of Missouri website visit:

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Oliver North to Appear in Branson at Marine Corps Birthday Celebration

This just in! On Monday, November 10, 2008 at Branson’s Chateau on the Lake, Lt. Col. Oliver North (USMC- ret) will be featured as the keynote speaker at the 233rd Anniversary of the Founding of the United States Marine Corps.

Tickets to the event, which is open to the public, are $45 per person and include Dinner, the Marine Corp Birthday Celebration, Col. North’s keynote address and the Marine Corps Ball featuring a live dance band.

The time honored tradition of the Marine Corps Birthday Cake Cutting Ceremony is not often witnessed by those outside the Corps. The Corps was founded on November 10, 1775 and from that day forward, the tenth of November has been the climax of the Marine Corps year.

The birthday of the Marine Corps is celebrated officially and socially wherever one or more Marines are stationed; aboard ship, at posts of other services, even in the field. November tenth is honored by the cutting and sharing of a birthday cake. A sword is used to cut the cake as a reminder that the Marine Corps are “a band of warriors, committed to carrying the sword so that our nation may live in peace.”

About Col. North

From his bio: “Oliver L. North is a combat decorated Marine, a #1 bestselling author, the founder of a small business, an inventor with three U.S. patents, a syndicated columnist, and the host of ‘War Stories’ on the FOX News Channel. He claims, however, that his most important accomplishment is being “the husband of one and the father of four.”

He is also the founder of Freedom Alliance, a foundation which provides scholarships for the sons and daughters of service members killed in action.

Seating is limited. For tickets contact or call (800) 619-5708.

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Fill ‘er Up!

The good news for today, Monday, August 25th, is that Missouri has the lowest gas prices in the nation as reported by AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. Regular gasoline is $3.438 per gallon with the national average being $3.681 per gallon.

When you are in Branson, look for the gas savings programs available through companies such as and the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.


Branson’s Titanic is Cited as World’s Largest Museum, a popular website for independent world travelers, has added Branson, Missouri’s own Titanic Museum, to its list of ‘World’s Largest’ things.

Quoting the website:

“This half-scale ship has only been open since 2006, and already more than 1 million guests have walked an elegant replica of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase, and stood on the mighty ship’s bridge. Your visit begins when they hand you the boarding pass of an actual Titanic passenger, and you check out the Memorial Wall to see if they lived or died.”

If you haven’t toured Titanic: The World’s Largest Museum Attraction, then you should fit it into your next Branson visit. This attraction, interesting for all ages, offers several unique activities including opportunities to:

• Walk an elegant replica of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase
• Touch the frozen surface of an ‘iceberg’
• Feel the chill of that fateful “Starry Night”
• See the world’s largest Titanic ship’s model on display
• Stand on the mighty ship’s bridge and hear the Captain’s commands
• View life onboard, see a First Class Stateroom & Third Class cabin
• Explore world-class gallery rooms with rare historical artifacts
• Try to send an SOS signal from the ship’s wireless room
• View an exclusive exhibit of the only known interior & exterior Titanic photos

Some of the other ‘World’s Largest” notables include:
World’s largest hotel – First World Hotel, Pahang, Malaysia (6,118 rooms)
World’s largest youth hostel – Danhostel, Copenhagen, Denmark (1020 beds)
World’s largest swimming pool – San Alfonso Del Mar, Chile It covers 20 acres, is 115 feet deep at one end, and holds 66 million gallons of water.
World’s longest beach – Praia do Cassino, Brazil It stretches 152 miles.
World’s largest airport – King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, Saudi, sits on a 300 sq. mile property.
World’s largest shopping mall – South China Mall. Though it is largely unoccupied, the mall has 6.5 million square feet of retail space.

Anyway, for a BIG time, visit the Titanic Museum in Branson.


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Show-Me the Numbers

The respected travel planning website, reports that Missouri is the No. 3 ranked state for requests for tourist information during the first 6 months of 2008. In their rankings for individual destinations, Branson ranked No. 1 in the nation for the same period.

Missouri Division of Tourism figures show that, to date, traffic at the state’s numerous Missouri Welcome Centers matches the 2007 figures. They also cite that the flooding conditions have not had a significant impact on travel.

The Travel Industry Association (TIA) Survey released in May 2008 shows that in response to higher gas prices, the greatest percentage of travelers plan to drive shorter distances to vacation destinations. Missouri draws heavily from its adjacent states- Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Strategic Marketing and Research, Inc., of Carmel, Indiana, states that that Missouri’s “Close to Home. Far From Ordinary.” advertising campaign hits home with likely travelers. They say that 27+ % of survey respondents state that they are “very likely” to travel to Missouri, up from the nearly 21% for the same time period in 2007.

When you look at the arithmetic, it all adds up that travel and tourism in Branson and the State of Missouri are faring well in these tough times.

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Saying Goodbye to a True Son of the Pioneers

Dale Warren, the ‘Trail Boss’ for the legendary Sons of the Pioneers passed away on August 9, 2008 in Branson. He joined the group in 1952 replacing lead singer Ken Curtis, who went on to play Festus in the long-running television show, Gunsmoke.

Dale, who sang lead, baritone and played bass, was called upon to serve as the Pioneers’ leader in 1977 when Lloyd Perryman passed away. For over thirty years, Dale led the group known for its tight, rich cowboy harmonies featured in such songs as ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ and ‘Cool Water.’

The Sons of the Pioneers were created by the ‘King of the Cowboys’ Roy Rogers in 1933 and have been in continuous performance ever since. The Smithsonian Institute dubbed them a ‘National Treasure.’ Having been inducted into the Singing Cowboy, National Cowboy and Western Music Association’s Halls of Fame, the Pioneers arguably set the standard for all western singing groups. They have appeared in close to 100 films with stars such as Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, John Wayne and, of course, Roy Rogers.

This promotional photograph shows Dale Warren in the upper left with the Sons of the Pioneers in 1967.

Dale, thanks for all that you have done. You’ve left quite a legacy. And as Roy would say, ‘Happy Trails, until we meet again!’

Note: You can still see the Sons of the Pioneers in performance at Shepherd of the Hills’ Pavillion Theatre, 5586 West Highway 76 in Branson. I highly recommend it. And take your appetite- there’s a Chuckwagon Dinner waiting for you that you are really going to enjoy!


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