“Autumn is the year’s loveliest smile…,” a line I borrowed from a sign in a chainsaw artist’s booth at Silver Dollar City’s National Harvest Festival. A golden October day at the City, as we affectionately call the 1890’s themed park, is synonymous with all things autumn. Gaily costumed scarecrows, bundled cornstalks, fall leaves and flowers, and pumpkins line the winding pathways. Drifting through the trees tinted with pale yellow and smidgens of red, scents of sugary funnel cakes and caramel corn mix with the fragrance of cedar chips flying from a chainsaw blade as lumberjacks demonstrate their competence with tools of their trade.
Lee and I spent a recent sunshine-filled Thursday strolling Silver Dollar City’s wide walkways, stopping to watch lumberjacks perform six different disciplines: ax throwing, single buck, spring board, speed climbing (that means up a pole!), boom running, and log rolling. We browsed the crafts of forty “Best of Missouri Hands Artists” as they displayed their wares of jewelry, pottery, sculptures, photography, weavings, baskets, wood carvings, paintings, furniture, and ceramics. True to the Ozarks philosophy of “making do with what you got,” we especially liked the vertical aquarium created from home grown gourds and life-sized animal sculptures from found limbs of Osage Orange, otherwise known to locals as “hedge.”
Trained in drawing and painting, Rachel Wilson picked up hedge branches downed on her family’s Missouri farm by a winter ice storm, and imagined a horse. She titled her first found wood sculpture “Yearling in the Wind.” Now a family effort, Rachel, her husband, and their four children collect the wood for her large collection of sculptures that appear in galleries from St. Louis, Missouri, to Vail, Colorado, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Around noon, we slipped into Red-Gold Heritage Hall, hosting Missouri’s Largest Barn Dance, and watched couples two-step to the music of Les Gilliam and his Silver Creek Band. In the afternoons, the park’s own Horsecreek Band played traditional country and western music for the dancers scooting around the special dance floor installed for the Harvest Festival. Two preschoolers stole the show for us, dancing their own steps in between swirling skirts and scuffed boots, proving once again the family emphasis in Silver Dollar City.
In Echo Hollow Amphitheatre, “Birds of Prey in Flight” thrilled audiences of all ages. Bad eagles, wedge-tailed eagles, falcons, and eagle owls soared overhead while trainers narrated characteristics of the majestic birds.
After a hearty lunch of Ozarks favorites in the Mill Restaurant, we ambled over to the Opera House for “Headin’ West,” a signature production created especially for Silver Dollar City. Although we’ve seen the award-winning show several times, we always thrill to the powerful voices as they sing and dance to a heartwarming tale of a couple riding their dream westward during a rugged time of our nation’s history. “Headin’ West” is the recipient of the prestigious International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions “Big E” award for Best Production.
Silver Dollar City brings together the best of an Ozarks autumn—food, crafts, music, and dancing. With afternoon sunshine lighting like a butterfly on the tinted leaves of the park’s tall trees, we dawdled our way to the tram that carried us back to our waiting Jeep—and a ride to our home on wheels parked in our membership resort, Treasure Lake. Another postcard day for our memory scrapbook
Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com