Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD: BRANSON, MO - "Entertainment Capital of the Midwest"

By Donald Pile and Ray Williams

Branson  is located between Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock, Tulsa and Memphis.  Unless you are driving you will need to fly directly into Branson or Springfield, Missouri.  FISK LIMOUSINES, www.fisklimo.com   has been serving the Branson and  Springfield area for over 30 years and they are the best of the best.  They will take care of all of your traveling needs in the area.   There are literally dozens and dozens of motels and hotels in Branson and like any other tourist destination, it is always best to go during the week.  The surrounding area of Branson has a lot of lakes to enjoy however most people go to Branson for the LIVE SHOWS ! and there are dozens of them ranging from cornball  comedy acts to sensational Broadway types of production and individual headline stars.   A few that we particularly enjoyed were:

RED:  Tom Mullica's Red Skelton Tribute.  This show was one of the FUNNIEST comedy routines that we have seen in years!  It is truly a laugh riot!   Tom is so quick with his wit and plays to the audience fabulously.  Each show is completely different since there are new audience members all the time.  He is one hell of an entertainer.  His partner Stephen is absolutely hilarious with his dead pan humor. Even their precious puppy, Dolly is in the show.  DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW !!!!!  It is for sure, the funniest show in Branson !  His website is www.TomMullica.com.

JOSEPH HALL'S ELVIS "Rock 'N' Remember Tribute"  It is an incredible full production show , featuring the greatest hits of the King of Rock 'n' Roll".  You will think that the real Elvis is back!   Joseph does an incredible job !  He was in the Top Ten of NBC's American's Got Talent.  He has Elvis's look and motions down perfectly!   His website is: www.josephhallbransonelvis.com  He does travel from coast to coast doing tours so if he is in your area, BE SURE and catch this very talented entertainer.

THE SHOJI TABUCHI SHOW.  What is there NOT to like about this EXTREMELY TALENTED entertainer ?  If you are lucky you will be there one of the nights that his wife Dorothy or daughter Christina are also performing.  It is all ENTERTAINMENT !   He has almost as many sequined outfits as Liberace had !   He is on top of everything and his theatre is beautiful.  One  HAS TO visit the restrooms in his theatre.  They are always on the top ten restrooms list in the country.  You can see photos of them on line.  The men's restroom even has a pool table in it and the lady's  restroom has crystal chandeliers.   No trip to Branson is not completed until you see this show.  It has everything, glitz, glamour,  great music with a wonderful back up band.  His daughter, Christina has a great CD out , "THE ORIGINALS"  His website is:  www.shoji.com.

DOLLY PARTON'S DIXIE STAMPEDE is a dinner show.  They serve a complete dinner consisting of a whole Rotisserie chicken, hickory smoked barbeque pork loin, corn on the cob, baked potato, creamy vegetable soup, home made biscuit    and an apple tart for dessert.  If you want to eat with flatware you will need to bring your own, otherwise everybody eats with their hands.  And we are not kidding !  Knowing this in advance, we brought our own Grande Baroque Sterling Silver flatware and our own white linen napkins.    You dine while you are watching the show where cowboys, Indians and all sorts of rodeo clowns, Ostriches, pigs and everybody has a good time.  Dolly does this right!   The pre-show outside is truly outstanding.  Their website is: www.dixiestampede.com.

There are two fabulous shows that we saw at the King's Castle Theatre, www.kingscastletheatre.com.  First we saw HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD which was a Hollywood spectacular featuring songs from Hollywood's greatest films.  It REALLY had all the glitz and glamour that one would ever want.  The entire cast did a tremendous job. Do not miss this show.  Also at the King's Castle Theatre was the NEW JERSEY NIGHTS, the smash hit tribute to Frankie Valli &  The Four Season.  The audience really appreciated this show and sometime even sang along with the singers.  The cast did a remarkable job and everyone left wanting MORE !

Branson HAS changed in the past couple of years and for the good!  They just HAD to re-invent themselves as Las Vegas has had to do.  It is now not just all about God and Country however can you actually believe they still have a theatre called God and Country there ?  Younger travelers are now coming to Branson.

    Our very favorite restaurant in Branson was FLORENTINA'S Ristorante Italiano.  Their website is: www.florentinasristoranteitaliano.com  They had some of the finest Italian food around.  It is located at 2690 Green Mountain Drive just off the "strip" in Branson.  Be SURE and dine there when visiting Branson.

   Like Las Vegas,  Branson in high tourist season can get very crowded with cars. Fortunately someone in the city devised a couple of alternative routes to avoid the main strip and by using these Yellow and Red routes you can get around very quickly.,  We want to thank the Branson Convention & Visitor's Bureau for their  assistance in writing our column and we also want to give a big thanks to Patrick McCoy at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre and to  "Mark S".

View the online photo album here:
http://www.gaymonde.com/common/PhotoAlbum.cfm?memberid=486&albumselect=Branson

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

GayWhistler's WinterPRIDE GENERATES $9.0 MILLION TO THE PROVINCE OF BC

Signature Winter Festival in Whistler generates $9.0 MILLION in Gay Tourism 

The twenty-first annual GayWhistler WinterPRIDE - Gay & Lesbian Ski/Snowboard week took place on February 3-10, 2013 and attracted visitors from around the world. Approximately three thousand gay and lesbian vacationers from 28 nations descended on the region with their friends over the eight day, sixty five events at the award winning ski resort of Whistler, BC, Canada.

This year the Resort Municipality of Whistler commissioned an economic impact study to better understand the overall value of the festival.  The report found spending made by participants, spectators and event organizers generated $9.0 million in economic activity for the Province of British Columbia.

Economic Activity
Total Industry Output representing direct and indirect expenditures generated by the event.
- Total to Province of British Columbia: $9.0 million
- Total to Whistler: $4.8 million

Jobs
Spending associated with the event supported $3.1 million in wages and salaries in the Province through the support of 69 jobs, of which 52 jobs were supported in Whistler.

Tax
Considerable tax revenues were supported by the event totaling $2.1 million.
$953,000 federal
$772,000 for province of British Columbia
$332,000 for municipality of Whistler
* The economic impact assessment in 2013 was conducted by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA), using the Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model (STEAM).The 2013 study was funded by the Province of British Columbia's Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI). The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) allocated RMI funds to produce a series of economic impact analyses for events throughout the community including GayWhistler's WinterPRIDE.

The festival is Whistler's primary LGBT activation to welcome the gay and lesbian traveler to experience the dynamic and welcoming nature of the province and attracts tourism spending in British Columbia that goes beyond the week-long event. In fact, according to survey research, 31% of participants plan to visit Vancouver/Whistler two or more times outside of the WinterPRIDE week, including 52% of the out-of-province participants.
"We are very proud of the economic impact that our event has made to the province," said Dean Nelson, CEO and Executive Producer of GayWhistler's WinterPRIDE. "It demonstrates the strong buying power of the gay community and how loyal this segment is in supporting a destination that embraces diversity and makes everyone feel welcome."

Post-festival entertainment in Vancouver, encouraged participants and their friends to extend their stay pre/post Whistler vacation.  Strategic partnership with some of Vancouver's LGBT community groups and special events help to entice guests to stay a bit longer in the Province.

"The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is committed to working with our partners to create an environment conducive to events," Said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. "We are delighted to work with third party event producers such as GayWhistler - producers of WinerPRIDE Whistler - to attract incremental visits to the resort."

The event, which takes place annually on the first week of February, has taken one of Whistler's historically slower winter weeks and made it one of the busiest in the calendar year.  Next year, the festival will move a week sooner to the last week of January to ease some of the added pressure the new BC Family Day holiday as well as the Chinese New Years celebrations has on the resort. The twenty second-annual WinterPRIDE festival will take place on new dates of January 26th to February 2nd, 2014. For more information, visit www.gaywhistler.com

WinterPRIDE 2014 runs from January 26 - February 2nd, 2014, and continues to revolutionize the traditional gay lesbian ski week format with its unique blend of four winter festival elements: Sports, Culinary, Health and Wellness, and Entertainment. 
  
In addition to the world-class skiing and snowboarding being offered in Whistler, many of WinterPRIDE's regular highlights will return for 2014, such as an array of dance parties, culinary events, canopy tours with SuperFly Zipline and dog sledding. WinterPRIDE 2014 also offers an expanded program of on-and-off mountain events, including special events for lesbians and bears as well as the annual Mr. Gay Canada competition.

About Alpenglow Productions/GayWhistler
GayWhistler (www.gaywhistler.com) is a year-round promoter of Whistler to the gay and lesbian community, and promotes and produces the annual Gay Ski Week. 7 Night Lodging at the host hotel Aava Whistler and full week festival Packages start at just $129/person/night.  Available until August 30th, 2013 for stays from January 26 - February 2nd, 2014 available online at gayWhistler.com only.  Other packages available call 1.866.787.1966 or visit online at gayWhistler.com

About the Resort Municipality of Whistler
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is Whistler's local government led by an elected council and administered by an executive team and staff on behalf of 10,000 residents and two million annual visitors. The RMOW manages municipal planning and development, park and Village operations, sports facilities and recreation, public utilities and environmental services, bylaws and enforcement, fire rescue, fiscal planning and financial services, legislative services, human resources, communications and the administration of the Whistler2020 Comprehensive Sustainability Plan and Whistler's Official Community Plan.