If you’re looking for things to do in Branson during your vacation and need a good laugh, be sure to check out the Baldknobbers Jamboree Show. Their zany performances started an entertainment revolution in 1959 that’s been going strong for more than 50 years. Celebrate Branson’s First Show and get in on the fun.
It all began with a simple idea from brothers Jim, Bill, Lyle and Bob Mabe—entertain the fisherman and tourists who came to downtown Branson. Next, they needed a name, something regional, something those from the Ozarks would recognize. They chose the Baldknobbers after a non-violent vigilante group that used to hold secret meetings on the tops of hills without trees, or “bald knobs.”
Bill Mabe noted that people came to the area to see hillbillies. So comedy was a big part of the Branson show. Performances also included old-time country, bluegrass and gospel songs. Their instruments consisted of a washtub bass, banjo and dobro (an acoustic guitar with a metal resonator), as well as a washboard and old mule jaw to keep the beat. To help promote the act, Katie and Joyce (wives of Bill and Jim) put on country dresses and carried signs announcing the show. Their act was instantly successful and wildly popular with those who came to the downtown Branson area.
In 1960 the Baldknobbers performed on opening day at Silver Dollar City. With their popularity soaring, they converted an old skating rink on the Taneycomo lakefront to accommodate their growing fan base. That converted skating rink would become Branson’s first live entertainment theater. By 1962 it was a real theater—complete with a stage, theater seats and stage lights.
Second generation performer and producer Tim Mabe, known to many as Droopy Drawers, Jr., says, “My dad and uncles founded the hillbilly humor of the Baldknobbers on the adage of the city slicker who comes to town to take advantage of the old hillbilly. And the hillbilly always gets the last laugh.”
Baldknobbers Jamboree Show is still setting the standard for live entertainment and family fun in Branson with a blend of zany humor and country music. If you’ve laughed with them before, make plans to see the show again during your next vacation to Branson. The performances are different every year.