When thinking about the best cities for entertainment in America, it’s easy to understand why the rural parts of this country would be overlooked. New York City has a large collective of extraordinary music venues, from something as big to Madison Square Garden to something more intimate like The Bowery Ballroom. Oh yeah, and they have this little district in Manhattan called Broadway. America’s second largest city, Los Angeles, encapsulates Hollywood. Need I say more? Las Vegas has their famed strip, a 4.2 mile long road that homes splashy casinos and exotic clubs galore.
Urban America is busy, vibrant and fun. Rural America has a stereotype of being agricultural, dull and conservative. One American town is eager to challenge these preconceptions. Branson, Missouri, a town in the Ozarks that is home to only a tad over 10,000 people, manages to bring in just shy of $2 billion in tourism annually. How on earth do they manage to do that? The people of Branson know that you don’t have to be big to provide some big entertainment.
Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater
Branson is home to some pretty extraordinary theaters, the most popular one being Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. The theater, named after the 20th century television staple, has featured such artists like The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra and James Brown. And that’s all in the last year. While that may appear to be impossible, the theater has gathered the most extraordinary tribute artists in the world, all of whom look and sound so eerily like the artist they are impersonating that it is often hard to tell the difference. It’s called the “Legends in Concert Series,” and it plays the American Bandstand Theater more than any other.
Kids who aren’t as familiar with those older artists needn’t worry; “Legends in Concert” also features rollicking tribute acts for Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani and more of today’s hottest artists. There is another American Bandstand Theater located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, but Branson is home to the original one.
The Circle B Theater
If rock and roll isn’t totally a tourist’s bag, that’s okay. The Circle B Theater is home to one of the best shows in Branson, the Circle B Supper Show. For a low cost, not only do audience members get a show filled with good old time country music, great dancing and lively humor, they get a sensational home cooked meal. The meal, consisting of savory chuck wagon style BBQ is prepared and served by the performers themselves. After dinner is served, the performers, who happen to be a close-knit family named The Horns, take the stage and deliver outstanding and gutbusting musical performances that pay a tribute to the wild, wild west.
Branson Variety Theater
For those not looking for a straight up musical performance and like to take in a little theater, look no further than the Branson Variety Theater. At any given time, the Branson Variety Theater is playing host to a number of splashy and garish musicals, usually celebrating the best music of yesteryear. Shows that can be found at the theater typically include “Hooray for Hollywood,” which pays tribute to the best musical numbers from the best MGM musicals back from the 50s, and “Shake Rattle & Roll,” a rocking collection of the best tunes that date back to the jukebox era.
When you consider that these theaters are just a small sampling of all those available in Branson, it is a little easier to understand why Branson can bring in so much tourism revenue, right? They don’t call it the “Las Vegas of the Ozarks” for no reason.
Author bio: David Bryce is an online publisher for the golf resort Thousand Hills in Branson, MO. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.