A fascinating assemblage of musical talent known as BransonFest Out West at the CasaBlanca Resort is in the books. The third annual gathering Feb. 6-8 80 miles north of Las Vegas featured great entertainment and activities along with record attendance.
In what must be termed one of the most wholesome three days of the year in Mesquite, BransonFest Out West continued to evolve from an idea four years ago to a blockbuster program drawing fans from several states.
The followers came from as far away as Canada journeying the long distance in buses to enjoy the weather, hospitality and affordability of Mesquite, which is situated about 80 miles north of Las Vegas. As of the last estimate, each of the Western states was represented.
Finding positive responses wasnt difficult during a non-stop three day scheduled that included everything from line dance classes to a session called Find Your Soul Mate and Make New Friends to three nights of entertainment that drew nearly 3,000 appreciative fans.
This is a great event, said Larry Rosenberg, a resident of Medford, Ore., who represents Clint Ingbretson, a solo entertainer who performed the music of Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson. Its absolutely amazing. Were excited to be here and really look forward to coming back in the future. This is very real entertainment that will bring tears to your eyes.
Rosenbergs wife, Carol, was equally as impressed with BransonFest.
Worthit, a colorful character who hails from Branson, Mo., wore several eye-catching outfits during the three days and literally kept the crowds in stitches.
I took a roll of toilet paper to the crap table, Worthit told the audience during one performance. I also got a call from my wife who was in Vegas. She wanted to know how to get back on (Interstate) 215, so I told her she needed to eat more salads.
Judy Hutchins of Marysville, Wash. was a first-time visitor and you can bet she will be back considering her immediate response.
Its just very wholesome music, Hutchins said.
This has been a great event, said Levant adding that the enthusiasm for the line dance class was excellent.
I am really impressed, said Bartlett adding that his company was in its 20th year. We brought 49 people and sold out quickly for BransonFest.
Mesquite Mayor Mark Wier agreed that BransonFest had created a great following.
We need to do more things like this in Mesquite, Wier said. This was my first time, and it was wonderful.
This was our best year for BransonFest Out West, said Arko, an energetic promoter who presents a similar event called Winter Break each year in Laughlin south of Las Vegas. I know what my clients want and the following of this years event is proof that we responded favorably.
There are so many wonderful stories that come out of both Winter Break and BransonFest, Arko added. For instance, one couple met in the Congo line and came back married the next year. Additionally, one guest from Chicago said events like this added five years to his life.
Arko took an interesting look back at the creation of BransonFest.
(Mesquite Gaming executives) Ann Sunstrum and Petra Jones came down to visit me at Winter Break several years ago, Arko said. They saw the value of what was taking place in Laughlin and capitalized with BransonFest Out West.
We are already in the process of taking this to an all new level.