WINGS OVER BRANSON -- 2010 WINGED WARRIORS/NBOA AND DSAC NATIONAL MEET

Text by Sue George

Photos by Sue and Ed George, Stuart Sutton and Wayne Perkins

Another fabulous national meet has come and gone and a huge Thanks goes out to Stuart Sutton and Larry Roper for putting together such an enjoyable event in Branson, Missouri. Members began arriving at our host hotel, the Area 57 Ramada, on Monday June 7th. The Ramada is made up of several large buildings, with their office right on Highway 76 (the Branson strip); the member's rooms were located in the building just to the right of the office and beyond that building is another large building where the hot all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet was served up every morning. Behind the office, to the left and down a big hill is the building that served as our hospitality room. Adjacent to that building is a large parking lot which we had all to ourselves with plenty of trailer parking behind. Some of the early arrivals spent the day at Silver Dollar City and went shopping along the strip.

Tuesday June 8th our event officially kicked off with everyone lined up in the parking lot at 7:30 am. We drove to Springfield where our first stop was at the Bass Pro Shop. Our hosts had originally scheduled this activity so the members could tour the impressive wildlife exhibit. Unfortunately, just a couple months before our date, the wildlife exhibit was closed for extensive remodeling and improvements. The members still enjoyed an hour of shopping and looking at the taxidermy displays and the fish tanks throughout the store.

When we walked out to our cars in the parking lot, Kentucky member Rick Edwards was talking with a man who had stopped to look at our cars. This gentleman had an interest in the cars because he had actually worked at Creative Industries in the plastics department and said he remembers making some parts for our cars! You never know who you're going to run into at these events. It's a very small world.

Our next stop was the Dickerson Park Zoo, which is an extremely clean small zoo that everyone enjoyed. Right inside the gate, a zoo employee grabbed Wayne Perkins and Don and Karen Bish and asked them if they would ride the train and be in an advertising video that they were going to shoot. The rest of us went on through the zoo, not even knowing that a group of members had been accosted. When we walked back to the parking lot where our cars were lined up, we had gained a couple of cars. One of them belonged to Jerome Schweitzer of Springfield who just happened to be driving by and noticed the winged cars, went home and brought back his blue Superbird and spent some time talking with the members.

Then we were off to the much anticipated lunch at Lamberts Cafe in Ozark. Any time of the day, any day of the week, there is a very long line waiting to get into Lamberts. The food is outstanding and you can have all you can eat of whatever you order, the atmosphere is fun and where else do they wheel out a cart of the most delicious hot hand-made rolls and stand at the end of the room and throw them to you?! Sometimes you miss, sometimes somebody gets hit with a hot roll, but it's all in the fun. After a very enjoyable time at Lamberts, we headed back out to our cars to return to Branson, where the members had free time to shop or sit around the pools and talk.

Wednesday June 9 began with a free morning to enjoy the sun around the pool or see things on our own. After lunch, a group went down the street first to Cooter's Store and then to the Branson Auto Museum. This is a very unique small museum with all kinds of cars on display. Above the cars and all around on the walls are old car advertising signs like you used to see in dealerships. There is also quite a bit of auto memorabilia and collectibles on display. In a separate room is a store full of old pedal cars, farm toys, models, etc.

At 4:15 that afternoon, we were all assembled in the Ramada parking lot and walked across the street to Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. If you're ever in the Branson or Pigeon Forge, TN area, this is a show you must see. Before we entered the building, the members walked around the stables and visited all the horses that are used in the show. These are horses that have been retired from other careers, abused, abandoned and injured animals that have been rescued. They are nurtured back to health and trained for the show and live a very cushy life from then on with the Dixie Stampede. After visiting the horses, we took our seats in the pre-show stage area and watched a very humorous juggler/comedian act.

Then we made our way into the arena where our group had front row seats for the show. Almost as soon as the show begins, a three course meal is being served. First a hot biscuit and bowl of creamy vegetable soup is brought out. Next you get a seasoned baked potato wedge, a cob of corn,  a whole Cornish hen and a slice of roast pork. The MC for the show tells you to hold up both hands and wiggle your fingers and that is going to be your silverware! You have to slurp your soup and slop your food just like the hillbillies of the South do! All the while you're eating with your hands, this fabulous show is going on in the arena with buffalos, horses, long horn steers, homing pigeons, buckboards, covered wagons, a carriage, Indians. The performers are singing, dancing, acting in military costumes, full Indian dress and very colorful gowns. The show opens with wild horses coming out and then the long horn cattle come out and graze. Then the Indians come and round them up and chase them off stage. Then a wagon train comes out and the performers as settlers set up a camp with a campfire and dance to a fiddle player. Anytime the MC says "Stampede!" the audience is supposed to kick the board in front of your seat to make a thunderous noise in the arena. Several of the performers did stunt riding on their horses. At numerous times during the show a dorky comedian called Skeeter comes out and performs different humorous acts, riding a chicken and laying an egg, and making a girl disappear on a wagon.

Then comes the friendly competition between the North and the South. Our group was sitting on the North and unfortunately, we lost to the South that day. Some of the competitions include the performers having a barrel race on their horses, wagon races, then they bring out rolled plastic fencing to make a race track and have piglet races and miniature horse races. After each competition the winning side ride their horses over to the losing side and you are encouraged to boo them loudly and give them the thumbs down. A group of kids were brought down from the audience and they have to race chickens. Then a couple of men are brought down to play horseshoes, but their horseshoes are toilet seats! A group of teens are brought down from the audience to have pairs racing horses. They're led to believe they get to pick out one of the show's horses to ride, but they actually end up with stick horses. At the end of the show, each row of the audience on both sides has to pass an American flag from one end of the arena to the other and whichever side gets their flag to the end first wins that competition. Everyone very much enjoyed the meal and the show.  No pictures are allowed inside the Dixie Stampede, so you just have to see this show for yourself.

On Thursday June 10, the members headed over to Branson Landing, which is the original Branson downtown area. This area is beautifully restored and there are numerous shops along a very scenic boardwalk that follows Lake Taneycomo. On the hour, a dancing water/fire show set to rock music takes place downtown. The members enjoyed shopping at Dick's, the original Five and Dime store (though I don't think there was much left for five and dime stuff anymore). This store is packed full of all kinds of trinkets, tourist souvenirs, bulk candy, etc., just like it was back in the 1950s. One treasure that our members found and many were purchased that day was a set of RoadRunner and Wile E Coyote salt and pepper shakers. A personal Thank You to Roger Newman who blessed me with a set for my collection.

At 4:00, the members headed out to Tablerock Lake where we boarded the Branson Belle Showboat for a cruise and dinner show. We were led to our seats about halfway back and up one level from the stage, a perfect place to see the stage. The boat is lavishly decorated and quite comfortable. Unfortunately, the windows are very inferior in size and the curtains are pulled closed during the show, so you can't actually enjoy the scenic Tablerock Lake during the cruise. There were several musical acts, including a Dixieland Jazz band which played for quite a while, several singers and dancers and this was all going on while we were being served a three course meal that consisted of a large salad and basket of bread, then a plate with beef, chicken breast and a veggy medley, and last a very light lemony ice cream pie. After the dessert plates were picked up, there was a 15 minute intermission during which we were instructed to walk anywhere on the boat we wished to. It wasn't nearly enough time to really see the boat and enjoy the view from the upper deck of the beautiful lake scenery. We did make it up to the Captain's cabin to meet him and talk with him about the controls, which was very interesting. Then it was back to our seats, where the show resumed with more singing and dancing, a tribute to broadway shows, and finally a very comical act by ventriloquist Todd Oliver and his "talking" dogs. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this last act, and most of us stopped to meet the "star dog" on the way out of the ship. After the Branson Belle cruise, most of the members returned to the Ramada for some time around the pools.

 

A small group of us headed for the Presley's theater. Earlier in the week, local John Stephan had joined us with his very nice red 1966 Charger for several of the meet activities. John is the sound man for the Presley's Country Jubilee, which is one of Branson's oldest shows. A very big Thank You to John for giving us free tickets to enjoy the show that night. And enjoy we did! It was one of the best shows in Branson, made up of members of the Presley family, who all play a variety of stringed instruments and are very talented singers.

Friday morning, we woke up to pouring rain. We had been really lucky all week, as it had rained all around us but never a drop fell where we were at any given time. One day Michele Sutton had gone to the Walmart store about a mile down the strip from our Ramada to pick up something quick, and reported back that it had rained while she was there, but we had stayed dry at the hotel! We thought our car show had been ruined, but someone was looking out for us again.

As 11:00 am approached, the rain let up and finally the sun came out. The members headed out for Tri-Lakes Motors just down the road a few miles. The dealership had cleared the front of the car lot facing the highway, and our members lined up their cars so passersby could see the row of Lifesaver colors. We found a yellow "Huge Sale" sign laying in the ditch and used it to our advantage for a photo opportunity. Late in the morning, one of the employees found a "Clearance" and a "Low Miles" sign that we could also use. Imagine what people must have thought when they drove by the dealership and saw all of those Superbirds and Daytonas with clearance and low miles signs on the windshield!

 

A very big Thanks to Tri-Lakes Motors for serving our members a wonderful lunch of hot dogs, chips and drinks. Everyone enjoyed and appreciated the food and hospitality! Our host, Stuart Sutton's Birdable unfortunately did not make it to the car show. The Birdable has a history of misbehaving and has the strangest things happen to it, always during a club event. In an ongoing saga of misfortunes, on a trip to his local bank just days before Stuart was going to leave for Branson, the cross-section part of the water pump casting where the fan bolts on broke off and went through the radiator. He replaced the water pump and installed a new aluminum cross-flow radiator. As soon as he fired it up, he discovered the new radiator had a leak. It was a weekend, when radiator shops aren't open, and with only two days before he would have to leave for Branson, he robbed the radiator out of his '69 RoadRunner and all seemed to be fine. For once the Birdable made the trip to Branson and cruised around all week without a problem--until Friday morning. When he started it up in the morning to leave for the car show, there was a loud, deep knocking in the engine. So after returning from the car show, we loaded the Birdable on my trailer to be hauled back to Kansas City, and my Superbird (which is usually driven anyway) was driven back that far.

After some free time Friday afternoon, the members assembled in our hospitality room about 4:30 pm just as the Pizza Hut arrived with our 20 pizzas. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed a couple rounds of hot delicious pizzas and sodas. After the serving tables were cleaned up, it was time for the club raffle. Piles and piles of cool prizes were displayed as Michele Sutton and Wayne Perkins sold raffle tickets. It took almost an hour to get through all the prizes!

Immediately following the raffle, Doug Schellinger of the DSAC and Doug Croxford spoke to the group about the 2011 meet in Cleveland, Ohio. Free time after the speakers was spent loading cars onto trailers and packing up belongings, getting ready to head back home in the morning. At dusk, we all kicked back in the parking lot to watch Finish Line: A cruise down memory lane on the inflatable drive-in movie screen, complete with our own concession stand! This movie has lots of old Mopars and the main star is a Superbird. It was written by past club member George Medeiros out in California. You can purchase the DVD by calling (559) 297-0052 or online at: www.finishlinemovie.com. After the drive-in everyone said their goodbyes and headed to their rooms for some rest before the long trip home. We even made the July 11-12 edition of the Branson Daily Independent local paper!

 

 



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