Jessi and Jackie
Monday, June 15, 1998
Silver Dollar City opens its doors at 9:30 AM. So that was our first goal of the day, be there when it opened. It usually works out much better to get to an amusement park early. The crowds are smaller so you can ride the popular rides first and then take care of the others later. We were at Silver Dollar City fours ago. It’s not so intense like Disney World, or even one of the Six Flags parks. But, it still has plenty of rides and things to do.
It has a definite family atmosphere without the intense commercialism of Disney or Universal.
We arrived roughly at opening time and made our way inside. Jackie didn’t want ride too many of the attractions, because that is just not her thing. So we did not make a beeline towards them. We had discovered that clowns are also not her thing. Earlier in this trip we had seen a clown on billboard, and pointed it out to everyone in the car. Jackie had such an exaggerated negative reaction that it was actually funny. She didn’t have a panic attack or take to screaming for protection from the seltzer wielding demon. It was more akin to an arachnophobe seeing a spider and hiding behind the person beside him.
Well, this was just too good to pass up, and Margo and the girls began to actively look for clowns to point out to Jackie.
Surprisingly, clowns are not abundant in Branson. Perhaps in New Orleans, when Mardi Gras is going strong, or Boston when Ringling Brothers makes their annual appearance, or Washington DC when Congress is in session, clowns are easy to spot. But, so far Jackie had been spared from their large feet, baggy cloths, and evil grin. However, her luck ran out in Sliver Dollar City.
Silver Dollar City has areas, in the way Disneyland has “lands. You recall “Tomorrowland” or “Adventureland”. The heart of SDC is a 1880s village, that is a recreation of a late 19th century Ozark town.
There are numerous restaurants, artisans, and shops. One of these shops was guarded by a large cloth clown, which was wrapped around a post. Somehow the girls, including Jackie’s evil sister, Margo, had maneuvered Jackie to stand right beside the post, without her noticing what was there. The idea was to snap a picture when she saw it, and capture her reaction for posterity. The picture ended up only showing Jackie just standing there. The clown had been pointed out with a “What’s that, Jackie?”, but she had a delayed reaction. She made a small shrieking noise and scooted away, almost anti-climactically.
Jackie about to be startled by an Evil Clown
We made our way over to The Cracker Corral, which is the petting zoo, inside the park. This was popular with everyone, even Jackie. We took plenty of pictures of the girls feeding or holding a variety of animals that might be found on any farm in the country. Even Jackie got into the act, but not too close.
She was not comfortable around these animals that were not dogs or carts. But, as the bunnies did not seem to bite and the goats were in a pen, she managed to feed a cracker or two to the furry beggars inhabiting the place.
Guilty of the Clown Conspiracy
I mostly worked the camera at this point. But I wanted to do something other than feed sheep and goats. It was not hard to talk the girls into going on a few rides. Truth be told, they were the ones doing the talking. They also got a bit bored with animals. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember what we did, ride-wise. I know we did the American Plunge, the SDC log plume ride. They have a river ride, Lost River of the Ozarks, and a small railroad, the Frisco Silver Dollar Line, in which I know we did. But, in all truthfulness, they were about like a dozen others, in a dozen other parks across the county.
They were fun, just not distinctive. I suppose there is good in that. A McDonalds hamburger tastes the same in Branson or Brighton. The consistency is part of the appeal. Besides, by mid-afternoon it was getting plenty warm. It didn’t matter what they called their water themed ride, as long as they got you wet.
Jackie (not getting too close) and my girls
Our show tonight was at 8 PM. We needed time to change into fresher cloths and maybe grab a bite to eat. We had lunched and snacked all day at SDC, so we weren’t terribly hungry. We ended up getting something from Dairy Queen, before we headed off to the Baldknobbers Theater. The word “Baldknobbers” requires some explanation, but it is likely not to make much more sense than it does to you now.
A Knob is small hill, common in the Ozark (and other) old mountainous ranges.
A bald knob has no trees, a looks kind of like a knot, or a knob. In the 1880s, a group of vigilantes sprang up out of the ashes of the Civil War. They wore masks and called themselves Bald Knobbers. They largely died out in the next twenty years, but their occasional violet exploits left an indelible imprint on the local populous. In 1959, when the Mabe brothers began to entertain the tourist coming to the area, they adopted the humorous sounding name of “Baldknobbers”, spelled as one word. They evidently chose the name for its campy sound, instead of anything political or historical. The Baldknobbers dress as stereotypical hillbillies and performed self deprecating sketches. There acts included country and gospel music, in addition to the comedy. The Baldknobbers were the first show in Branson, and that started a live entertainment tradition that continues to this day.
Us, on The American Plunge
My thought when booking this show was “Well, they’ve been around for 40 years, they must be good.
” I wasn’t off. They put on a very entertaining show. We laughed and had a great time. I’m not much on gospel music, but even that was done well. They have a great mix of music and comedy, and present it on a red, white, and blue plate. I was happy we chose them.
Jolene waiting for the show to start
The show was about two hours long, and it was 10 pm by the time it was done. We were pretty much done, too. We made the short drive back to Hollister, took care of our nightly routine, and went to bed. Tomorrow would be our last day in Branson. We had one more show to see, after a day of Ducks and shopping.