Greetings my Loyal Reader(s), and welcome to the latest edition of the Branson Beat, your home for all the news on the Branson entertainment scene.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at jclark@bransontrilakesnews.com, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.

Now, let’s get to it.

Hulk-sized fun at Ripley’s Believe it, or Not...

Every winter I try to visit some of my favorite “year-round” attractions here in Branson, so after having to reschedule a few times, earlier this week I finally cruised over to visit the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and Odditorium. The museum, which features adventurer Robert Ripley’s collection of more than 450 artifacts spread throughout eight themed areas over two floors.

Before we get to what’s inside, I must discuss the awesomeness of the building itself. The facade of the museum, designed to look as though it has been ripped apart by the famed earthquake of 1812, isn’t just the most unique building in the area, it also makes for a great photo opportunity. In addition to the awesome architecture, there’s also a life-sized, or “Transformer-sized,”  Optimus Prime sculpture made of scrap car parts. It is, without a doubt, one of the area’s most popular destinations for a photo.

Having such a unique building also helps set the tone for many of the hundreds of unbelievable exhibits housed inside the 12,000 square-foot Odditorium. Once inside, guests take a self-guided tour, where they’re even greeted by a hologram of Robert Ripley himself, which is one of my favorite parts of the museum.

From there, folks are off to visit two floors of exhibits ranging from artwork made of tires, a giant statue of the Incredible Hulk, tribal artifacts to fully clothed fleas, as well a replica of the world’s tallest man. Each exhibit also features a history of the item, which is not only entertaining, but quite educational, as well.

The second floor of the museum features an awesome nautical collection, a birds-eye view of the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine,” a collection of tribal artifacts from Africa, Tibet and Nepal. The world-famous shrunken head is on display there, along with a video illustrating the shrinking process.

Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Ripley also relished collecting what he called “pranks of nature,” which includes exhibits about the world’s tallest man, world’s heaviest man, and even a replica of the dude with the world’s largest nose. That section always bring a smile to my face.

The Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum and Odditorium really does offer something for everyone, and is interesting, entertaining, and educational. You’ll have a whole lot of fun ... believe it, or not.

Visit ripleys.com for more.

Tribute to Gary S. Paxton 

set for March 11

A special tribute to one of my favorite people, the late Gary S. Paxton, also known as “Grandpa Rock,” “Flip,” “Pax,” or “His Weirdness,” who died July 17, 2006, at the age of 77 after a lengthy battle with several health issues, is set for March 11 at the Hughes Brothers Theatre in Branson.

Numerous artists, in both the country and Christian genres, recorded Paxton’s musical compositions, and he also produced many of those acts. The tribute program will feature several of these well-known artists, both from the local community and from out-of-town.  A final list of those artists is set to be released at later date.

Self-described as “terminally weird but Godly right,” Paxton was a Grammy and Dove Award winning songwriter and producer who cataloged more than 2,000 songs, recording close to 700 himself. 

Some of his well-known gospel hits include “He Was There All The Time” and “Valley Walker.” In the secular world, Paxton’s productions of such novelty hits as, “Monster Mash” and “Alley Oop,” earned him accolades and continued commercial use to the current day. 

A “Tribute to Gary S. Paxton” will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 11, at the Hughes Brothers Theatre, and admission is free to the public.

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