by Linda Burlingame :: Photography courtesty of Silver Dollar City
As I strolled the streets of Silver Dollar City, autumn leaves were falling, carpeting the streets with golds and scarlets, all the brilliant colors of fall. Aromas wafting through the air hinted at the flavors of fall – apple dumplings, barbecue. Laughter and music, a smile on everyone’s face.
The setting changes with the seasons, but Silver Dollar City is always about making memories with family and friends, food, music, and fun. It’s about art and crafts, and shops filled with an extraordinary array of treasures. There are 100 resident craftsmen at Silver Dollar City. The National Crafts & Cowboy Festival adds another 125 craftsmen to that number. With the wonderful variety of other artists and shops, Silver Dollar City offers a cornucopia of experiences this time of year.
And yes, I said cowboys. Buck Taylor’s Cowboy Emporium is one of my favorite spots this time of year. The “Frisco Freight Company” building is filled with painters and jewelry makers, saddle makers … and cowboys. Buck grew up in the movie business and later studied art at USC. You might remember him as “Newly,” on Gunsmoke. His most recent film role was in 2016’s Comancheria. Don Dane is another artist whose work I like. Don has been drawing since he was young, but it was 2002 when he quit the “corporate job” to become a full time artist. He enjoys time at Silver Dollar City, talking with visitors and sharing stories about his art.
I think that’s true about all the artists at the City. They’re a family, and they love sharing their work. Artists who paint. Artists who create pottery, glass art, jewelry, furniture, knives. Artists who work in leather, in copper, stone. And shopkeepers. I’m putting everyone in the “artist” category.
White River Bath & Body, in a new location at Silver Dollar City this year, is the creation of Meloney Kleeman. Meloney’s art is not only making wonderful products but also in creating an exquisite palette for that product. With her exceptional design talent and using antiques and other vintage finds, Meloney and her husband Jarrod have fashioned a shop that is light and airy, beautifully decorated.
I’ve known Meloney most of her life – creativity and shopkeeping are not new to this mother of three. As an infant, she was in a baby swing in her mother’s Silver Dollar City shop. As a teenager, during fall festival she worked in White River Wildflowers, her mom DeYon Blase’s shop. DeYon gave Meloney a space in the shop and the idea for bath salts. Several years later, Meloney started her own business at Silver Dollar City. White River Bath & Body has grown into a successful venture, with countless satisfied, returning customers. Made with organic ingredients, there are now 63 different products. Her “Custom Bar” gives visitors the opportunity to blend fragrances, made while you watch. Her new location is adjacent to “Christmas Hollow,” near Thunderation.
Nowadays, DeYon is at Silver Dollar City only during the fall festival. Her Ozarks Naturals, across from the “Saloon,” is full of her amazing Forever Candles, flameless fragrances (also fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic), room perfumes, warming oils, and other beautiful products with her special touch. “They’re the illusion of what you want them to be,” she says.
The City seems to be a dream environment for artists. Master Potter Jeff Walker has been quoted, “We are given great creative leeway and encouragement to develop and improve our skills. There are no words for what this means to a craftsman.” The pottery shop is one of my favorites, full of gorgeous pieces made by Jeff and the other potters. The blown glass is fascinating to me, too … and to my children and grandchildren. I think all ages are captivated by the process. The glass shop is filled with incredible pieces. But one of their most impressive creations is the blown glass chandelier in the Culinary & Craft house. (That’s a whole other story!)
“Art,” as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “skill acquired by experience, study, or observation; an occupation requiring knowledge or skill.” And, I like this, “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” Art is all around you at Silver Dollar City. And as you saunter the shady paths visiting with the Silver Dollar City family, watch for the smiles, listen for the laughter, soak in the flavor of fall. Your autumn trip to Silver Dollar City will put a smile on your face and memories in your heart.
But back to the cowboys … and cowgirls. Sharpshooting champion Kala Howard shows off her “art” while riding horseback. Another feature in the Wild West Show is World Champion Native American Hoop Dancer Nakotah LaRance. (The Wild West Show runs thru October 15, the rest of the Cowboy Festival thru October 28.) There are Western Music acts that include Belinda Gail, seven times the Western Music Association’s Female Performer of the Year; Miss Devon and the Outlaw; The Home Rangers … there’s even a Western Barn Dance where you can kick up your heels and dance to a live band.
When you come back for “An Old Time Christmas” at the City this year, you’ll love the new Christmas in Midtown, which adds another 1.5 million LED lights, for an amazing total of 6.5 million lights! And in 2018 visitors to Silver Dollar City will be astounded by Time Traveler, the massive coaster project – the “world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning coaster.”
So much to see and do, and I haven’t even mentioned funnel cakes, candy, or the bakery. (Stop for a cinnamon roll on your way in and a loaf of bread on your way out!) The Silver Dollar City experience is different things for different people. “I get a new piece of pottery every year.” “I love the music and the shows.” “We LOVE the rides!”
What will your next trip to Silver Dollar City mean for you?