by Linda Burlingame
Spending your time wisely is especially important on vacation, when time is limited. Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction is an ideal way to spend quality time with family and friends here in Branson. I think the entertainment value is outstanding, the food and service are excellent, and the experience will be a highlight of your trip. Thirty-two wonderful horses and their talented riders are the stars of the show. Their amazing skills are highlighted in production numbers that range from beautiful and spectacular to comic … pig races are comic, right?! And the Canine Capers rescue dog relay is delightfully light-hearted. The Fly-Ball racing, high-jumping head-to-toe competition — these rescue dogs will touch your heart with their antics and their stunts!
A stampeding herd of buffalo and the cattle drive of longhorn steer are reminiscent of long ago days. That westward journey comes alive with a wagon train of high-spirited settlers and with Native Tales of the Thunderbird, a stunning aerial feat high above the arena. There’s music of course, and special effects that include interactive lighting with a 12.5 million LED wall. (Wow!)
As Dolly’s guest, you’ll enjoy the pre-show in the Carriage Room 50 minutes before the big show begins. The White River Wranglers entertain you with a musical journey through a history of Ozark Mountain music. Folk tunes, Southern Gospel, and early country create the familiar sound we know as bluegrass.
Once inside the beautiful 35,000 sq. ft. arena, you’ll be surprised how quickly and efficiently your delicious four-course meal is served. The servers are fun and fast on their feet, guaranteeing your dinner is fresh and hot. Everything is homemade and prepared right there in the Dolly Stampede kitchen. It begins with Dolly’s famous creamy vegetable soup. (I LOVE this delectable soup, which is also available in the gift shop. I have a Little Rock friend who “stocks up” whenever she’s at the Stampede!) The light-as-a-feather buttery homemade biscuit is heavenly! Then come the herb-roasted potatoes, a whole rotisserie chicken, hickory-smoked pork loin, corn on the cob, and Dolly’s own specialty dessert. (Who’s hungry?!)
Some of the amazing stunt riding and equestrian feats involve friendly competitions. (The audience gets in on some of these!) At the end everyone comes together for a gorgeous red, white, and blue star-spangled finale featuring Color Me America, written and recorded by Dolly Parton. I’ve been enjoying Dolly Parton’s Stampede with my family and friends for 25 years. It’s fun to be with people who are enjoying it for the first time; they’re always thrilled with the experience.
Have you experienced Dolly Parton’s Stampede? What’s your favorite memory? If you’ve seen it, I know you look forward to enjoying it again. (Once-in-a-lifetime moments can happen more than once!) If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to make Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction part of your visit to Branson!
P.S. I can’t sign off without a salute to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This book-gifting program mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they start school. The program was launched in 1995 in Sevier County, Tennessee, where Dolly grew up. A national effort began in 2000; in Missouri it serves Taney and Stone Counties. It’s statewide in Tennessee. It’s also in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In Tennessee you can get an official Dolly Parton License Plate, benefiting the Imagination Library. What a wonderful program!