Experience the Magic of the Showboat Branson Belle

Showboat Branson BelleEscape the monotony of everyday life with a relaxing and entertaining cruise aboard the beautiful Showboat Branson Belle.

Your hilariously witty host, magician and comedian Christopher James, will have you keeled over in laughter as he introduces the talented cast members (and himself) in preparation for an afternoon or night of first class entertainment.

While you sit back and dine on a sumptuous meal, you’ll be swooned by the enormously talented quintet, The ShowMen, who sing just about anything and everything including classics, Broadway favorites and hits from the 70’s, 80’s and today.

The perfect compliment to the suave gentlemen, Cassandré Faimon-Haygood will awe you with her angelic voice and spot on performance. Younger kids (and even adults) will love the Cassandré’s set of Disney covers originally sung by some of the most popular Disney princesses, including Elsa’s “Let It Go.”

But we certainly can’t go without mentioning Rhythm – The Fastest Feet West of the Mississippi. The four-man dance troupe’s speed and rhythm is so astonishing and you won’t believe this group’s set of skills as they clog along to some of your favorite hits.They’ll even take a moment for a little friendly competition onstage as you cheer and holler for your favorite.

During the show, you’ll have the chance to exit the dining room and step outside on the deck of the showboat to soak up the beautiful scenery out over Table Rock Lake. The views are fantastic from any deck, but for a close-up look at the paddle wheels churning the water, head to the very top deck. You won’t be disappointed.

The Showboat Branson Belle truly is a magical experience that is enjoyable for guests of all ages. And springtime is the perfect time to get out on the lake and enjoy beautiful Table Rock Lake while sampling some of Branson’s premiere entertainment.

So what are you waiting for? Get your tickets now!

Spend New Year’s Day on the Beautiful Table Rock Lake

Chateau on the Lake’s New Year’s Day Champagne Brunch is one event you won’t want to miss!

What better way to spend New Year’s Day than to wake up with the beautiful views on the shore of Table Rock Lake at the luxurious and comfortable Chateau on the Lake in Branson.

The Champagne Brunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and guests will get to choose from delicious breakfast items, fresh fruit, salad, cheeses, shellfish, carved meats and sweet treats.

Chateau on the Lake is at 415 North State Highway 265 in Branson, Mo., so book your stay at this luxury resort and kick off 2015 with beautiful views and a delicious meal on New Year’s Day.

For more information and room details, please visit www.bransonshows.com.

Fish Hatchery to Be Replaced with New Nature Center

Branson’s decade-old Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery visitor center is on track for a major upgrade and will soon be replaced with a much larger nature center for tourists to enjoy.

I just visited the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery a few weeks ago and spent the afternoon exploring the visitor center and the trout hatchery. But according to reports from the Springfield News-Leader and several other news outlets in the area, the Missouri Conservation Commission has now approved a $1.16 million contract for a new nature center.

The current building is more than 30 years old and features 2,500 square feet of educational exhibits. Although it still serves a great purpose in the Branson area, the number of visitors that tour the place during the summer months is overwhelming for the amount of space. The new nature center will be much bigger and similar to the nature center in Springfield, Mo. which is more than 15,000 square feet and features a 150-seat auditorium, wildlife viewing decks and interactive exhibits.

When I stopped by the fish hatchery’s visitor center a couple weeks ago, I stopped to chat with an older gentleman sitting in the lobby making lures at a table. He told me that he is frequently spends his time at the visitor center mingling with guests and making his lures, but he can’t do that during the summertime because the center is just too busy and congested with visitors.

I can imagine the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery would be incredibly busy during the summer because it’s a free and fun activity that the entire family can enjoy. So I’m excited to see what will come of this new nature center! I think it will be a great addition for the Branson community and visitors to enjoy.

The new nature center is estimated to be finished by the summer of 2017 so we’ve got a few years to go but it will be worth the wait!

For more details, read this article published by the Springfield News-Leader.

What do you think about the new nature center?

A Look Inside the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery

IMG_6361Branson is home to the one-of-a-kind Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, where 350,000-400,000 pounds of rainbow trout are produced yearly.

You would think a fish hatchery might be a dull place, but the truth couldn’t be more of the opposite. The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is an incredible educational experience that the whole family can enjoy. And best of all? It’s free!

Yesterday I headed to the fish hatchery, uncertain of what I would find. Naturally I assumed I would see a good number of trout but I had no idea just how many I would see. According to www.mdc.mo.gov, the hatchery is the Missouri Department of Conservation’s largest trout-rearing hatchery and now that I’ve been there I can better understand how many trout are really produced here.

IMG_6346Located right below Table Rock Dam, this educational facility provides guided tours weekdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day and guests can enjoy a self-guided tour the rest of the year. The hatchery includes a visitor center, complete with fascinating exhibits and displays of live animals, a 50-seat auditorium, sitting areas, hiking trails, a boat ramp with fishing access points on Lake Taneycomo and so much more.

Inside the visitors center, there’s an area where you can watch the trout swimming underwater and it’s incredible how big some of them are. The informative panels below the glass in the picture above feature a ruler so you can measure just how big the trout are as they swim by. I saw several that were a full 12 inches and even one that measured in at 14 inches!

Although the inside of the visitors center is great, outside is where the real adventure is. When you step out the back door of the center, you’ll come face to face with dozens of raceways, or 100-foot long pools of moving water. Each raceway’s total water content measures about 2 1/2 feet and guests can look down into each one and watch hundreds of trout swimming together. These raceways operate year round and house trout in different stages of growth. Water quality is very important at a fish hatchery, so the raceways are cleaned every two weeks and staff drain and power wash them.

IMG_6375At the Shepherd of the Fish Hatchery, you’ll be introduced to the complete process of breeding and stocking trout. It’s fascinating to learn how in just 16 to 20 months, trout are raised from an egg to the 11-inch fish that are released into Lake Taneycomo. Feed machines are also available outside so make sure to bring a few quarters so the kids can feed the fish. It’s a great way to interact with the wildlife of the hatchery.

If you’re looking for something fun and free to do in Branson, head to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery for some quality, educational outdoor fun. The hatchery is just 10 minutes from the intersection of Highway 76 and Fall Creek Road near Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater.

 

 

Spot a Bald Eagle in Branson this Winter

 

In December, thousands of eagles migrate south to Missouri’s open waters to survive the winter and the large, trout-filled lakes of the Branson area make for an ideal winter home.

Eagle watching is a popular group activity and can be a very rewarding and awe-inspiring experience. The bald eagle has served as the United States national symbol since 1782 and these majestic birds are truly a sight to behold.

Biologists estimate Missouri’s summer eagle population is about 600, but that total grows from three to six times larger during the winter months. So if you’re heading out to Branson with the intention of spotting some eagles nesting this winter, here is some helpful information to assure your time is well spent.

Father and son enjoying scenic view with binocularsBald Eagle History

At one time, up to 20,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles could be found in the United States. But unfortunately, due to hunting, DDT poisoning and the takeover of territory by humans, that number had decreased significantly by the early 1900s. In the 1970s, the bald eagle was declared an endangered species in 43 states. Today, the number of bald eagle nesting pairs has increased to about 10,000 and the bird has been removed from the endangered species list.

Where to Look

During the winter, bald eagles migrate south and relocate near open water where food is plentiful. You’ll most likely spot them in tall trees near the waters edge. Eagles are most active in the morning hours and can be seen fishing and flying around the lakes.

The Missouri Department of Conservation suggests heading southwest of Branson to Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery for the best luck. Make sure to dress warmly and bring your binoculars and camera. A canteen of hot coffee or cocoa might not be a bad idea either, depending on how long you plan to stay outside.

eagle 5

Interesting Facts

– Bald eagle nests are huge, with the national record set at 20 feet deep, 10 feet wide and a weight of two tons.

– An eagle’s eyesight is five to six times sharper than a human’s.

– The wingspan of a bald eagle ranges from 6 1/2 to 8 feet.

– Life expectancy in the wild is 15-25 years.

– While adult bald eagles sport the characteristic white head, younger eagles can be various shades of brown.

– One of the largest birds of prey in the world, bald eagles typically weigh in at 8-15 pounds. That’s a huge bird!

– Sixty to ninety percent of the bald eagle’s diet is composed of fish.

– Bald eagles are fast! A flying speed of 20-40 miles per hour is typical but they can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour or more while diving.

If you’re interesting in attending one of Missouri’s eagle watching events, visit www.mdc.mo.gov for more details and a full calendar of Eagle Days events.

Seven Table Rock Parks to Close for the Season

branson table rock lakeSadly, some of the parks at Table Rock Lake are getting ready to close for the season, so if you haven’t gotten in your lake fun for the summer make sure you do so before September 15.

The seven Army Corps of Engineers parks that will be closing in a week are:

  • Cricket Creek
  • Eagle Rock
  • Moonshine Beach day use area
  • Baxter
  • Viola
  • Big M
  • Aunts Creek

Access to boat launch ramps is still available.

If you’ve never been to one of Table Rock Lake’s many parks, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a variety of outdoor activities to be enjoyed. From camping, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing and historic tours, you’ll never be lacking things to do. Visit Missouri State Park’s website for more detailed information and maps.

For more information about the park closures, click here.

Catch the Branson Labor Day Fireworks

FireworksOne great thing about visiting Branson for Labor Day is getting to see all the incredible fireworks. And this year, there are two fireworks displays that you definitely don’t want to miss.

The Chateau on the Lake will present an astonishing display of colors in the sky in conjunction with its Backyard BBQ event on September 5. The display will begin at dusk over Table Rock Lake so even if you don’t attend the BBQ event, you can easily enjoy the show from a nearby shoreline. You might try parking your lawn chair or blanket at the lake front in front of the Dewey Short Visitor Center near the Table Rock Dam for a prime viewing. The Chateau on the Lake is at 415 State Highway 265, Branson.

Big Cedar Lodge is also planning on having a spectacular fireworks show on August 31 at dusk following its own barbecue event. The dazzling display will also be visible from a boat the shoreline of Table Rock Lake. Big Cedar Lodge is just south of Branson off Highway 65 at 612 Devils Pool Rd., Ridgedale.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to catch one of Branson’s fantastic fireworks displays, we hope you have a great Labor Day weekend!