Foodies take note: Silver Dollar City (Branson, MO) 2012 Exciting Festivals

It’s really what’s not to like about Silver Dollar City attractions in Branson, Missouri.  The moment you get past the gates to this (more than 100 acres) theme park, you’d be greeted with nicest smiles (everybody’s on an absolutely fun mode), aromas of freshly-baked breads and pastries and “just as you’d expect” coolest atmosphere (it’s go slow or go fast, it’s happy days are here again!).  It’s my second trip to this “wonderland” and the attractions, shops and activities are ever-changing, I really enjoy (I’m absolutely going back for more) a full day at Silver Dollar City, it’s just a fun place to enjoy unbelievable treats (candy store, apple dumplings, mountain size cookies, pork rinds, hot chocolate, specialty breads, skillet cookery, tater twist, and lots more), to learn from and chat with demonstrating craftsmen like Culinary expert Debbie Dance Uhrig, and to enjoy the thrill rides (let me clarify this, haha, I only said, enjoy hearing/watching kids and families screams on water raft rides and roller coasters).  It’s good old-fashioned family fun, day or night, it’s just magical!

SDC’s Managers (including Lisa Rau and Martha Hoy Bohner) welcomed the media to Silver Dollar City and while we enjoyed a fabulous meal offerings of chicken with apple butter, prime rib and ham, pumpkin/pecan pie and chocolate layer cake, the 2012 exciting events in Silver Dollar City were announced (what’s new for 2012).


*World-fest (April 12 – May 6) – features top entertainment from around the world —

AARON CARUSO – Operatic tenor, trained by Rome’s Maestro Viccio and recently had a sold out show at Carnegie Hall

PIAZZA de FIESTA – “Little Italy” plaza comes alive with flag throwers, living statues, stilt walkers and colorful costime parade

MARIACHI DIVAS – Grammy Award-winning all-female music Ensemble

HAWAIIAN COUNTRY MUSIC – Stars four-time Grammy winner George Kahumoku

PERU’S YAWAR CHICCHI – folk music and dance troupe

KENYAN SARAKASI ACROBATS – world renowned acrobats from Nairobi, Kenya


HEARBHAIL FINNEGAN – Ireland’s premier harpist



*Bluegrass and BBQ Festival (May 10 – June 3, 2012) – see electrifying performances by some of the top names in Bluegrass music, from award-winning favorites to red-hot rising stars and enjoy a barbecue feast


BLUEGRASS COMPETITIONS – The National Single Mic Championship (May 19 & 20) and the Youth In Bluegrass Band Contest (May 26 & 27)

BARBECUE FEAST – BBQ grills filled with over 40,000 pound of barbecue (Memphis dry rubs, Carolina vinegars, smoky Texas eats and sweet KC-style)


*National KidsFest (June 9 – July 22, 2012) -it’s the Ultimate Summer Vacation for families

THE FABULOUS WALLENDAS – famous family circus topbilled by Guinness World Record High Wire-Walker and Discovery Channel star Nik Wallenda

LUMA – high-tech illumination techniques for a three-dimensional show of light, color and motion

GAZILLION BUBBLES – an interactive show with lasers, lighting effects and sheer bubble mastery


INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION (July 4) – a salute to veterans complete with fireworks


*Southern Gospel Picnic (August 24 – September 3, 2012) – features Dove Award winners and top gospel acts


PICNIC-STYLE FOODS – all mouthwatering including the Silver Dollar City’s famous fried chicken (Had them on my first trip to SDC, and yes, to die for, the best)

*National Harvest Festival  (September 13 – October 27, 2012) – top-rated craft festival

WESTERN STUNT SHOW by professional stunt men and women

DEMONSTRATING CRAFTSMEN from around the country


BUCK TAYLOR – legendary Western star and water color artist



*An Old Time Christmas (November 3 – December 30, 2012) – heralded “the Most Illuminated Park on Earth” by the Travel Channel

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE – all new musical production adapted from the Frank Capra classic

CHRISTMAS ON MAIN STREET – light & sound show featuring the 5-story Special Effects Christmas Tree

A DICKENS’ CHRISTMAS CAROL – this is really worth watching (see my slideshow below)


How do you start your day at Silver Dollar City?  I recommend you go right ahead to Silver Dollar City’s first restaurant, Molly’s Mill Restaurant where a hearty Ozark breakfast/brunch buffet is served  (it’s air conditioned and dig in to Miss Molly’s famous Southern-style Fried chicken).    Then before leisurely walking around, check the schedule of classes at the Culinary & Craft School (Master Craftsman Debbie Dance Uhrig always has exciting recipes to share to you in a state-of-the art Kitchen Showroom, complete with Viking appliances, flat screen TV for over head views and tiered seating for close-up viewing).  Now you’re on your own, wander around and don’t forget the candy factory (sugar confections of all sizes and shapes and flavors, yum!).

Remember:  In Silver Dollar City, it’s your show…come hungry, come as you please and stay as long as you like, until park closes at 9:30 pm!

For more info, please visit website:

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Again, to CVB Lynn Berry and the entire Branson and SDC team:  congrats and job well done!


Dino’s 24 Karrot Cake and Basic Carrot Cake Recipe to enjoy

Branson Landing is one exciting development in Branson, an open-air shopping mall boasting over  100 specialty stores and restaurants.    One of the popular shops in Branson Landing is Dino’s 24 Karrot Cake Company & Cafe.  Dino’s so famous in Branson for its legendary treat for all  sweet lovers — Carrot Cake (Dino mentions of Beyonce and Denzel Washington as some of his wealthy clientele).   So we all had a slice from Dino’s decorated carrot cake — so moist, so crazy-delicious, so-not-enough for just a slice.

At Dino’s I was introduced to America’s favorite Gospel Trio, the “Voices of Glory”, 5th placer in last year’s America’s Got Talent.  Their uncle/manager Gerard Cole introduced me also to the kids parents — so much love in this family, really!   Check their website for their CD as well as schedule of tours and performances:

Basic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Meaning, no canned crushed pineapple added!  And yes, lots of oil to ensure a super moist cake.  Some would substitute applesauce for half of the oil…but this is a basic recipe, remember.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups canola or corn oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1 box (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
about 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract
coarsely chopped walnuts, for garnish

Use two 9-inch or 3 8-inch round pans, greased, line bottom with parchment paper, greased again and floured.   Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix all cake ingredients using electric mixer, combining well until smooth.  Divide into prepared pans.  Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.  Let cakes cool while preparing frosting.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl until well blended.  Add powdered sugar, a cup at a time.  Stir in vanilla extract and beat until smooth and creamy.  Fill and frost cake, and garnish top of cake with chopped walnuts.  Simple but’s carrot cake!

Also took pics of other Dino’s cake…yumm!

The Andy Williams Christmas Show in Branson and Christmas Dinner at his Moon River Grille

Of course we were so excited to watch the Andy Williams Christmas Show with Bob Anderson and the Lennon Sisters in Branson, it was top of list of shows I wanted to enjoy watching in Branson.  It’s Andy Williams…and per our itinerary, Andy Williams would have made it for a meet-and-greet at his famous Moon River Grille before the show.   We got to the restaurant just enough to have a chat with Debbie Boone (of course, the lady behind the hit song, You light Up my Life), she was a joy to chat with and it happened while we were muching down our salads — couldn’t be fast enough to pull out my camera.   CVB boss, Lynn Berry introduced to some celebrities appearing in the show following the dinner — Lennon Sisters, Bob Anderson, etc.

Here’s the menu offering…Glenn and I both had the tenderloin, yummy!

And that dessert — Chocolate Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce, it was a perfect ending to a wonderful Christmas Meal.   I’ve been looking at some Chocolate Bread Pudding recipes in the net and one day I’d make one and share you the recipe.

Before leaving the Grille, I spotted a tray full of yummy desserts — here’s the snapshot…

Andy Williams didn’t make it to the dinner…and didn’t make it to the show either…was later announced that he was very ill.  Wishing Mr.  Branson (Andy Williams) good health for 2012!

The Show was fast-paced and so well-choreographed….and everyone had a great time!

Branson’s Festival of Lights and Lots and Lots of Christmas Trees

Experiencing “Ozark Mountain Christmas” for the first time was like being a kid again and got fascinated on all the wonderful sights and sounds Christmas.   We all love Christmas —the many trips to the mall, the “hit-or-miss” gift-giving and receiving, the “dieting-on-hold” holiday feasts, and the “they-only-sound-great-at-Christmastime” Christmas songs.   And in Branson, Christmas starts in November…what a joy!

Branson’s Festival of Lights
A tour of this brightly lit street makes you just love Christmas the more, makes you forget your worries, makes you celebrate the joyous season.  Kids from 1 to “92” will truly enjoy this magical one-mile drive.  Branson Festival of Lights Drive-Through kicked off November 1 and ends on January 2, 2012.     We passed through this 2 times and really enjoyed the dazzling lights…and you certainly can stop to take those souvenir videos and photos.  Awesome!

Garishly-decorated Christmas Trees
I just can’t get enough of gazing at decorated Christmas trees garnished with twinkling lights, garlands, and Christmas ornaments of all sizes and shapes and the happy festive feeling that comes along with it.   I think Giant Christmas trees are simply stunning, you see them all in magazines.  But when you get to stand near one, it truly is a wonder, it really brings in the spirit of Christmas.    There is really no excuse of not finding time to put up your Christmas tree each year.

More of my Branson Christmas experience in next posts!

A Wonderful Branson Breakfast with Kelly Bryant

A scheduled breakfast at Mel’s Hard Luck Diner (our second time around)….this I just couldn’t skip, even if it meant waking up early and making it to the most popular Branson breakfast place by 8 a.m.

In addition to delicious morning treats of scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage links, and grits (Glenn just loves this), Mels Diner is the place of singing servers, yes their extraordinary servers — polite, have a ready smile, and topnotch “idol or x-factor” material, really.    All the servers really share their musical prowess and their CDs are available for purchase (no pressure to buy though).    This was where we met American Idol finalist Jason Yeager, but he wasn’t in yet.

Our server this time was Kelly Bryant…she’s a sweetheart.   She loves dishing out Gospel and Country songs.  She wowed us with her rendition of a Patsy Cline classic.

Her Christmas album titled Christmas Memories (listening to it while writing this article) included 16 tracks, with a duet with American Idol Jason Yeager and also a duet with her daughter Kaitlyn Bryant.

Songs in her CD:

1)  Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
2)  Let it Snow
3)  Silver Bells
4)  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
5)  Jingle Bell Rock
6)  Silent Night
7)  Joy to the World
8)  The Christmas Song
9)  Santa Claus is Comin’ to town (duet with daughter, Kaitlyn)
10)Winter Wonderland
11) Where Are You Christmas
12) I’ll Be home With Bells On (duet with Jason Yeager)
13) All I Want For Christmas Is You
14) Mr. Santa (I LOVE LOVE THIS!)
15) Two Step ‘Round the Christmas Tree
16 O Holy Night

Produced & Recorded by Gordy Wensel at Hard Luck Records, Branson, MO

To order this Christmas CD, please contact Kelly at  A marvelous idea for stocking stuffers and it’s worth it, you have got to trust me on this!

Mel’s Hard Luck Diner…include this as a must on your list of places to visit in Branson.

Silver Dollar City’s Famous Ginger Cookies

This is a cookie recipe shared by Culinary & Craft School at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, that will really make your home smell good and “holiday-ready”. Samples were given out to us when we stopped by at the School. I love ’em…and I’m bringing a tray of these nicely-spiced cookies at next month’s thanksgiving dinner with Titah Veronica Leighton and Tito Joe Mauricio.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter or shortening

2 tablespoons molasses

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

Additional 1/4 cup sugar set aside to roll cookie dough in for coating

Yield: 20 to 30 cookies

In mixing bowl, sift flour, soda, spices and salt.

In a second mixing bowl, cream butter and 1 cup of sugar until fluffy. Add the molasses and egg. Beat the mixture for one minute. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed until combined. Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then roll in a small plate with the additional 1/4 cup sugar.

Arrange the balls of dough 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until light brown on bottom. Transfer to cooling rack.


For more information: Contact Silver Dollar City (800) 475-9370, or the Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau at (877) BRANSON,

and reader Dennis sent me a pic of ginger cookies the family made recently…and the family really love the cookies…