Greetings my LoyalReader(s), and welcome to the latest edition of the Branson Beat, your home for all the news on the Branson entertainment scene.
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Now, let’s get to it.
Shepherd of the Hills ‘Outdoor Drama’ opens Saturday
The Ozarks will once again be alive with the tales of Old Matt, Young Matt, Sammy, Pete and the rest of the gang as ownership announced the “Shepherd of the Hills Outdoor Drama” will return.
The “Outdoor Drama,” a staple in the live show industry for nearly 60 years, is based on the novel of the same name by Harold Bell Wright, which was originally published in 1907. Wright began visiting the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in 1898 at the bidding of his physician, who recommended two vacations a year to a more suitable climate for his lung disease.
In following his doctor’s advice, he became acquainted with John and Anna Ross, known locally as Old Matt and Aunt Mollie. The people he encountered during the eight summers spent camping on the Ross’ land were the inspiration for the characters in the book.
“The Shepherd of the Hills,” was published in 1907 and was an instant hit. People were so taken with the work, they began visiting the area to see how much of the work was true-to-life.
In 1941, the source material was adapted into a film starring John Wayne, his first in Technicolor.
The land once owned by John and Anna Ross would change hands over the years, and it wasn’t until owner Mark Trimble hooked up with local favorite Lloyd “Shad” Heller and Jim Collie to built a theater where they could perform a “Shepherd of the Hills” play, which the trio would also write.
The Old Mill Theatre opened to the public for the first time on Aug. 6, 1960.
The play tells the story tells of life in the rugged Ozark Mountains of Missouri in the late 1800’s, and features such timeless characters including Old Matt, the pillar of the community, his son Young Matt, the strapping hero of the tale, his beloved, Sammy Lane, as well as the villainous Wash Gibbs and the vigilante Baldknobber gang.
More than 90 actors and actresses, horses, sheep, mules and donkeys perform on a stage the size of a football field. There’s a shoot-out, the actual burning of a log cabin, a love story, a mystery and a moral message that is as true today as it was over a century ago.
After facing uncertainty several times over the last couple of years, the “Outdoor Drama” survives, and its home, the Shepherd of the Hills Historic Homestead and Adventure Park, is thriving.
In fact, the Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park was recently voted America’s Best Aerial Adventure Park through a national public poll conducted by USA Today. In addition to the “Outdoor Drama,” the park also features a scenic canopy zip line tour, the highest, longest and fastest zip ride in the state, the Vigilante Extreme, a multi-level ropes course, Ozarks Off-Road ATV Adventure, Inspiration Tower, a 230-foot structure located on Inspiration Point, Morgan Chapel, Matthew’s Hall and Lil Pete’s Playland, as well as a new restaurant, which is currently under construction.
Later this year, the park will also see “The Toby Show,” the “Shepherd’s Christmas Carol,” and “Christmas with Dino” open later this year, while “North Pole Adventures” and the Trail of Lights will also return in November.
For more information on all there is to see and do at the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Adventure Park, visit theshepherdofthehills.com.
Cajun Days in Reeds Spring
Reeds Spring Cajun Days will take place 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Reeds Spring City Hall at 22601 Main Street in Reeds Spring.
Reeds Spring Cajun Days is an outdoor festival that features live musical acts, food vendors, and craft booths. Money raised from sponsors and vendor fees is used to fund the Rotary Club of Table Rock Lake’s many community enrichment projects.
The musical lineup for Cajun Days kicks off at noon with the Flyin Buzzards Bluegrass Band, followed by Denzil and Jonathan Band at 1:30 p.m., the Lori Locke Band at 3, and Shawn Campbell and the Band Rescue go on at 4:30 p.m. There will also be a Little Miss Cajun Days contest during the day.
The menu features boiled crawfish, shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes, gumbo and more.
This event is always the perfect way to “pass a good time,” as my Cajun brethren are fond of saying, and it’s always one of my personal favorites. Plus, where else can you get crawfish?
Gates open at 9:30 a.m., and admission is free.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
For information, call 417-294-9201, or find Reeds Spring Cajun Days on Facebook.
Annual Veterans Assistance Benefit Show Monday
The Annual Veterans Assistance Benefit Show will be held May 20 at the Hamner Variety Theater. The event, which raises funds to support area law enforcement and first responders, will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the Ozark High School JROTC Drill Team.
The show will begin at 7 p.m.
Entertainers scheduled to appear are Doug Gabriel, star of “The Doug Gabriel Show” at the Pierce Arrow Theatre, the Bretts from Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, Kathy Pearman from the Pickin’ Porch Grill, Amber Campbell and the cast of “#1 Hits of the 60’s, & 50s, too” from the Clay Cooper Theatre, Mike Walker from “Lasting Impressions” and “Conway Remembered” at the Hamner Variety Theatre, and Christopher James from the Showboat Branson Belle, and more.
Not only is this event overflowing with entertainment awesomeness, it’s for a great cause, and I guarantee a fully emotional experience.
Tickets to the show are $15, and available at the theatre, as well as by calling theater at 417-334-4363.