|Clay Cooper mingles with the audience during the first BransonFest Out West in 2010 in the CasaBlanca Event Center. The fifth annual event is set for Feb. 3-5.
By Mike Henle
MESQUITE -- BransonFest Out West has brought with it a fascinating combination of wholesome entertainment so strong that near-capacity crowds have filled the CasaBlanca Event Center for the past four years.
The event created by Sue Arko of Free Spirit Vacations and Events in Gilbert, Ariz., has been wildly successful in (a) filling hotel rooms and (b) bringing Americana to this city situated about 80 miles north of Las Vegas.
The fifth annual event is scheduled for Feb. 3-5 at the CasaBlanca. Undoubtedly, the entertainment spectacular has become a must-see for people traveling here from several states including Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California, to name a few.
Possibly one of the biggest reasons for the success of BransonFest Out West has been the continued interaction of the performers with the crowds. Many followers don’t quite know what to expect when first hearing about the show before becoming regulars when the event is presented each February.
Among the event followers who wouldn’t miss this year’s gathering is energetic Renee Wakem, who again returns from Tonto National Forest in Payson, Ariz., after being introduced to the event in 2013.
The trip from Payson about 90 miles north of Phoenix isn’t short, but Wakem wouldn’t miss the event.
To Wakem, BransonFest Out West is more than the entertainment. It’s the chance to take a Country Western dance class, enjoy the beauty of Mesquite in the prime months and establish friendships that will last forever.
“It’s very wholesome,” said Wakem, a native of San Diego, Calif. “When I went last year, I didn’t know how to dance. They had a dance class at BransonFest and I loved it.
“There’s so much to do at BransonFest. Sue’s company gives you the most for your money. I now have a following of seniors (she had about 24 followers in 2013) who had a wonderful time last year. They are all very active.”
Rich Vickers, a dynamic entertainer and host from Rolla, Mo., travels thousands of miles each year and he always looks forward to BransonFest out West at the CasaBlanca.
“As a singer, entertainer, producer, tribute artist and Emcee, I get to travel and see a lot of different events,” he said. “BransonFest Out West is by far and away one of my favorites. The family atmosphere, the entertainment and the activities are just stellar.
“I tell people that it’s like a cruise ship atmosphere. The entertainment and the activities are just stellar. The games, the events and the activities and top notch entertainment each night are really cool. It is the highlight of our calendar each year.”
Tickets for BransonFest are now available starting at about $23 including taxes and fees by calling the CasaBlanca Resort at 877-438-2929 or by visiting www.mesquitebransonfest.com.
This year’s BransonFest Out West will again feature themes including Branson is Folk; Branson is Variety; and Branson is 50s Rock ‘N Roll.
For further information, contact Arko at 888-278-9844 or email her at email@example.com; or call Mesquite Gaming’s Petra Jones at 888-711-4653 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.