If you want to see one of Branson's famous music shows indoors, the staff of Dolly Parton's Stampede has spent the summer learning how to present theirs safely. It doesn't hurt that the arena is 30,000 square feet -- and more than half their performers have hooves.
"Our horses were able to take some time off" when the dinner attraction closed March 15, says General Manager Bryan Cossiboom. "Like many of us, they have a full-time, year-round job at the Stampede, and they were able to graze in a pasture and mill around at their leisure without a care in the world. The horses are a part of our Stampede family, so of course we loved going out to them every day and just watching their different personalities come to life in one of the Ozarks' beautiful rolling pastures."
But that didn't mean that they weren't all eager to get back to work. Dolly Parton's Stampede closes in late December or the first week in January every year and reopens in mid-February, so it had resumed operations just weeks before the coronavirus scare. Listening to the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control, World Choice Investments shut down its facilities in Branson; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., including Dolly Parton's Stampede in Pigeon Forge and Branson.
"We took this time to look at everything throughout our facility and operations from the perspective of our employees and our guests to put measures in place to keep everyone safe," Cossiboom says. "We [are] sanitizing the facility before, during and after all performances and deep cleaning every night. Additionally, all of our employees that come into contact with guests are wearing masks, and our guests must wear masks when entering, moving around and exiting our facility. Employees and guests will also have their temperatures taken and be required to answer a series of questions provided by the CDC.
"Normally, we would seat 1,100 people, but to allow for social distancing -- both throughout the facility and with our seating -- we are accommodating about half of that number for each show," Cossiboom adds. "The response to the show reopening has been very positive, and our performers -- including our horses -- have loved resuming entertaining families."
According to Cossiboom, there are 26 performers on horseback and 32 equine stars of the show. The 32 horses consume 104,000 pounds of grain per year and 3,500 bales of hay; more than 1,150 horseshoes are used on the Stampede horses each year; and horses' bedding consists of 13,200 bales of hay and approximately 528,000 pounds of pine shavings annually, which is kept clean and dry round-the-clock by eight employees that work in the stable.
"One of the things that makes the Stampede such a special place for our guests to visit is that escape for a few hours to a world where they can make memories together -- marveling at the trick riding of our talented equestrians on our magnificent horses, enjoying a delicious meal served by friendly faces, laughing at the interaction of our performers during the comedic parts of the show," he says. "We haven't added any brand-new elements as we reopen but rather rehearsed all the favorite parts of the show that folks have been coming to see -- and see again -- for the past 25 years."
Dolly Parton’s Stampede
WHEN — There is a daily show at 5:30 p.m., and shows are added based on demand on that particular day
WHERE — 1525 W. 76 Country Boulevard in Branson
COST — $29.99-$54.99
INFO — 417-336-3000 or dpstampede.com
FYI — The Stampede continues to offer its popular dinner of creamy vegetable soup, homemade biscuit, rotisserie chicken, barbecued pork loin, corn on the cob, an herb-basted potato, a specialty dessert and unlimited beverages.