As hard as it is to believe, we have reached September. Honestly, I had just gotten used to the idea that we were in August. Before you know it, we’ll be shoveling snow and opening Christmas presents.

A new month means it’s time to look back and remind ourselves of how much good goes on in the Tri-Lakes Area.

• The Clay Cooper Theatre surprised a woman and her children by reuniting them with their husband and father, Capt. Maurice Merritt, who had been deployed with the U.S. National Guard for nearly a year. The family was surprised by the visit, especially the young children who thought their father was still overseas. It’s another reminder that the Branson area knows how to treat its veterans and their families. (Note: the incident took place in July, but appeared in the Branson Tri-Lakes News on Aug. 2)

• Back-to-school programs help children and their families get a good start to the school year. The annual Back to School Bash, put on by First Baptist Church of Branson at the Branson RecPlex, and the Night of the Tiger at Hollister High School, are two such programs. There, students can get supplies that are difficult for some families to provide. But they also provide much more. Children could also get haircuts, clothes, hygiene kits, backpacks and other items that most of us might take for granted. It’s a cliché to say “children are our future,” but it’s an absolutely truthful cliché, so it’s vitally important for youngsters to get every advantage they can get.

• Silver Dollar City announced the addition of a new $26 million coaster, called Time Traveler, for 2018. Silver Dollar City Attractions President Brad Thomas called it the “biggest announcement we have ever made.”

Think about that for a few seconds. Biggest. Silver Dollar City. Ever.

That’s big news, folks. And any time that theme park comes up with something new it’s good for everyone, because there will be so many more people coming to Branson to check it out.

Expect 2018 to be huge.

• The Forsyth Main Street Group is encouraging community development by hosting a farmers market and an art walk each Saturday. Every weekend is a new theme, such as Main Street Luau, as witnessed by one of our reporters this month. Other themes have included Fathers Day Festival, Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration, and Hoedown on Main Street. It’s great to see a community get together and help create some excitement, especially in a place like Forsyth with such a rich local history (Civil War battle, founding of School of the Ozarks) and such great natural resources (two lakes and a beautiful creek).

• Congratulations to Taney County Deputy Brad Daniels on his recent athletic achievement. He placed first in his category, and third overall, in a 340-mile kayak race. The Missouri American Water MR340 is an endurance race (to say the least) that runs along the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Charles. He managed to complete the course in 42 hours and 12 minutes. Great job, Daniels!

• And finally, Grand Country Resort hosted the 29th Annual Branson Fiddle Festival. This has always been a great Branson tradition that was held for many years in downtown. However, with changes to the downtown area, the festival’s future was in jeopardy until Grand Country chose to host it in recent years. The festival musicians playing traditional fiddle music for prize money. It also is a chance for folks to get together and tell stories and reminisce. The festival helps ensure that a piece of the Ozarks past remains with us far into the future.

Those stories all appeared in The Branson Tri-Lakes News during the month of August. It was just a sample of the many great things going on in our community. I can’t wait to see what September brings.

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