Branson, Missourie, page 2
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BRANSON, MO - Page 2
by Tim McDonald

After a dose of nature, it's back to the Strip. Branson has become a huge, entertainment industry, and some people refer to it as the "live music capital of the world," with acts ranging from the Oak Ridge Boys to Petula Clark, to well-known rock and roll bands. It has an outdoor mall now and even some upscale shopping.

Next month, Branson will open what it claims is the first privately-funded and operated airport in the country. The $140 million airport will have non-stop service to and from Milwaukee, Atlanta and Dallas and they're expected to announce another West Coast stop soon.

They had to, literally, move mountains, cutting off the top of a mountain to make room for the 7,140-yard runway.

But, it's never forgotten its roots. I like the way they've held on to their history here, retaining the original name instead of changing it to something country-gaudy, like – there's no way around this – Dollywood. Branson gets its name from a man named Rueben Branson, who operated a general store and post office. Nothing fancy there, just an honest, hard-working man helping out the community. And the city started out in the entertainment industry by holding square dances in a cave. If that's not Americana, I don't know what is.

Oh, and the airport will offer "concierge-level service" to everyone, not just well-heeled business travelers.

But, the biggest tradition Branson has held on to, and I like to think the biggest part of its success, is that Ozark friendliness.

I remember that as I sit at yet another country restaurant and a middle-aged waitress with flaming red hair says, "Ya'll want some more sweet tea, honey?"

"Oh yeah," I say. "And I'll take a slice of that sweet potato pie, too, please ma'am."


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