Each fall, when the season turns the landscape of Ozark Mountains into vibrant shades of copper and rust, Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri hosts its National Harvest and Cowboy Festival. The streets of Silver Dollar City fill with 125 craftsmen and women showcasing arts and crafts and the skills they practice to create them. From jewelry to glass, pottery to metal art, hammocks, and candles–there is something to appeal to everyone.
We remember visiting Silver Dollar City with our families as children in the 1980s. Throughout our lives, we’ve returned to Silver Dollar City again and again in every season and for us, the National Harvest and Cowboy Festival remains our favorite time of year to visit.
Recently, we visited Branson, MO and had the chance to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the Festival. One of the highlights of the trip though was the welcome home of the Journey Stagecoach which was the first attraction at Silver Dollar City when it opened in 1960. Cowboy, Rick Hamby remembers the stagecoach from his visit as a young boy in 1964. This year, the stagecoach returned to Silver Dollar City for the 52nd annual National Harvest and Cowboy Festival. Somehow, through the decades, the Journey Stagecoach got lost. It was in 1999, that Hamby stumbled upon her behind a blacksmith shop in Arkansas. He bought the stagecoach on the spot. Ten years later he visited with Silver Dollar City co-founder Pete Herschend and told him of his find and that’s when he knew that he had to bring the Journey back home to Silver Dollar City. The love people have for the old stagecoach was palpable as they filed passed her on display. We tried to get a photo of the stagecoach and the cowboys who take care of her, but the crowds were too dense and the demand for every person to get their chance to admire her didn’t allow for many chances at a good shot.
We moved on to one of the many shows that Silver Dollar City has to offer, The Wild West Show. The show salutes the Cowboy and Native American. Trick roper, A.J. Silver and six-time world champion Hoop Dancer, Nakotah are highpoints of the show.
Along with the craftsmen and shows, a hallmark of the Silver Dollar City experience is the food. Down home country cooking is the rule. Be sure to visit the bakery where the smells of fresh baked bread, pastries, cakes, and cookies left our mouths watering.
Of course, we rode some rides, and even though there was a little bit of a chill in the air it didn’t keep us away from the Lost River of the Ozarks, the fastest, wildest white water rapid ride in the Ozarks. Because it was just a little bit cool out, not many people were riding at all, so we were able to get on immediately (no line!), ride, and come back around to ride it again.
The entire time we were there, we talked about our visits to Silver Dollar City as children with our families. One of my earliest and fondest memories is of visiting with my father. He bought me a raccoon skin cap and a turquoise ring. The rides are great, but what keeps people coming back to Silver Dollar City time and again is the family atmosphere and the memories created there.
*Disclosure statement: Our visit to Branson, MO was made at the invitation of the Branson, MO Visitors Bureau as part of a familiarization trip. Our accommodations, admission tickets, and meals were complimentary in return for sharing our experience with our readers. The views and opinions expressed are purely our own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a destination, attraction, venue, or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party in question.