The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 18, 2014

Branson festival offers food, entertainment smorgasbord

BRANSON, Mo. — Kristy Merritt is ready for Ozarks visitors to see the world in Branson.

"It's a great event we do every year," said Merritt, a longtime Branson show and attraction marketer. "It commemorates the beginning of the spring season. We put up a big tent in the parking lot at Welk Resort, and people can come and see what our theaters have to offer."

Each year, Branson performers get together and raise funds with the See the World festival to assist in the marketing of Branson as a vacation destination.

All of the activities under the tent are free and open to the public.

Music Fest and Savor the Flavors events also entertain guests under the tent.

The tent opens at 10 a.m. on April 23 and 24. Each of the shows inside the Welk Resort Theatre (one each day) runs $35 and is around three hours in length. It's a good value, Merritt said.

"Each day at 2 p.m., the tent closes, and people go inside where 20 different performers will take the stage for about 10 minutes each. That's enough time for them to get a taste and an idea of what shows they want to see in full at a later date."

This year, the Acrobats of China, Dublin's Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies, the Liverpool Legends, and Yakov Smirnoff are set to perform.

Merritt said this year's events are going to be special.

"We will have Mickey Gilley this year. He will be in the tent signing autographs and meeting people," she said. "Clay Cooper and Paul Harris will be there too. Shoji Tabuchi is going to come, and we are excited. The Oak Ridge Boys will perform in the show inside. Its a great place to get autographs from all the performers."

While the Music Fest portion of See the World draws fans to the tent, Branson visitors will also get to sample the cuisine of Branson.

"We have a Savor the Flavors auction," Merritt said. "We will have celebrities cooking on stage in the tent, and people can sit down and watch and then taste the recipes they cook."

Merritt said the event is styled after "Iron Chef," the TV challenge cooking show.

"This year, (we have) two celebrity chefs," she said. "Each chef will get a mystery ingredient that they have to work into their recipe. It's gong to be fun."

Comedian and singer Paul Harris will face off against Clay Cooper and, on the second day of the event, The Blues Brothers from Legends in Concert will take on one of Branson's Elvis tribute artists.

"It will be fun and have an element of suprise," she said. "We will have a Savor the Flavors cookbook for sale, and people can get it autographed while they are there. It's always a fun time."


Want to go?

Call 417-348-1434 or go to www.see for show information.

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