Volunteer Nathan Howe grills some burgers and hot dogs for the Branson Regional Arts Council fundraiser, which raised money to help fund the Historic Owen Theatre.

The inaugural Branson Regional Arts Council BBQ festival was held June 1 at Liberty Plaza in downtown Branson. According to arts council Executive Director Jim Barber, the event raised $13,000 toward a capital campaign to purchase the Historic Owen Theatre.

Hundreds of people attended the one-day event, which was held to assist the Branson Regional Arts Council to eventually obtain full ownership of the Historic Owen Theatre.

“While the Branson Regional Arts Council has a long term lease with an option to purchase the venue, we would like to secure ownership sooner than later so we can focus on restoration of the facility as well as continued growth of our Youth Education program and community theatre productions,” Barber said.

Built in 1936, the downtown Branson theater is now the official home of the Arts Council and it’s community theatre and Youth Arts Conservatory program. In January 2018, the arts council acquired the venue through a long-term lease with an option to purchase. Since that time, they have presented over a dozen Broadway musicals and plays for the community, and also founded a Youth Arts Education Program with emphasis on young students from all across the area who are between the ages of 8 and 18.

Barber also said the arts council wants to help preserve the history of Jim Owen “and all he did to initiate and foster tourism in the Ozarks.”

Performances were provided by Java Jived (a cappella group from St. Louis), Branson Comedy Company (improv), Forte Theatre Productions (Broadway cabaret music), BRAC Youth Troupe (solos and vocal selections from upcoming productions), Dylan Pratt (vocalist), Micheal Horn (guitar and vocalist), Joey Heard (songwriter and vocalist), Gary Dooms (Saxophone),  Robert Morris (Balloon Twister), and Rick McEwen (guitar and vocalist).

Multiple Vendors filled the plaza to the max with works of art, custom jewelry, and unique services.

In addition to all the vendor booths and entertainment offerings, the Branson Parks and Recreation Department provided a Bounce House for the kids to enjoy.

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