Herschend to headline chamber banquet

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Peter Herschend, co-founder and co-owner of Herschend Family Corporation, formerly known as Silver Dollar City, Inc., will be the guest speaker at the annual Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce banquet on Saturday, Jan. 26. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the Cassville High School commons area.

"Each year, the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates the extraordinary things local community members, businesses and organizations have done in the area," said Dusty Reid, incoming chamber president. "This year will be no different. We have a wonderful dinner planned and the decorations will be great, as always.

"We are very honored to welcome Branson businessman Peter Herschend as this year's guest speaker," continued Reid. "Mr. Herschend is so well respected across the state and even the nation. We are excited to have him join us on this special occasion."

Herschend, served as executive vice president of the Silver Dollar City organization for 20 years. He then served as vice chairman of the board until he retired in 2006.

Well-known for his efforts to help set the direction of tourism and education in Missouri, Herschend's professional involvement includes serving on the Missouri State Board of Education since December of 1991. He has also been involved with the Missouri Attractions Association, Travel Industry Association of America, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and the Ozark Marketing Council.

Herschend and his brother, Jack, were named to the IAAPA Hall of Fame in 2004. They were also co-recipients of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Missouri and received the Ernst and Young Lifetime Achievement National Award in 2005.

The Herschend brothers devoted most of their lives to the family's business interests and successfully combined their skills to develop several major attractions. Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) Corporation owns, operates or partners in 26 properties in 10 states.

Those properties include Silver Dollar City, Showboat Branson Bell, White Water, Talking Rocks Cavern and The Wilderness at Silver Dollar City campground, all in Branson. HFE is an operating partner with Polly Parton in the Dollywood Company, which owns the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood's Splash Country water park, both in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The Dollywood Company is also the largest shareholder in the Dixie Stampede dinner attractions in Branson, Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

HFE operates Atlanta's Stone Mountain Park in conjunction with the state of Georgia and Classic Cable Car Sightseeing in San Francisco, Calif., and owns Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga., Newport Aquarium in Newport, Ky., Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J., Ride The Ducks tours in Branson, Philadelphia, Pa., and San Francisco, Calif. The company manages Darien Lake Theme Park Resort in Buffalo, N.Y., and Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colo.

Since the company was founded in the early 1960s, the many properties have been internationally awarded numerous times for excellence in theme, presentation and operations, including the worldwide Applause Award for excellence and the Themed Entertainment Association Award.

Herschend, who holds a degree in business administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia, was awarded an honorary doctorate in business administration from Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar in 1989. He also recently received the Education Supporter of the Year award, an honor bestowed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

An avid cyclist and fundraiser on behalf of those with multiple sclerosis, Herschend took part in the local Bike MS Tour for 22 years and generated over $1,500,000. He is the nation's highest cumulative fundraiser, and the first person to raise $1 million for the National MS Society.

In 2010, Herschend was named to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for his cycling efforts.

Herschend serves as chairman of the board of Upper White River Basis Foundation, known as Ozarks Water Watch, a group dedicated to preserving water quality in the Ozarks. He also serves on the board of directors of Camp Barnabas, the Christian summer camp for children who suffer from terminal illnesses and other conditions located west of Purdy.

Herschend has also supported his wife, JoDee, in the development of a ministry to single moms called The Caring People. The couple has been married since 1966 and have five children and 10 grandchildren.

In addition to enjoying Herschend's address, banquet attendees will be treated to a dinner catered by John Sullivan and the Cassville High School FCCLA. Accents-N-Tents will provide décor for the event.

Gary Whyte, outgoing chamber president, will recognize new and retiring chamber board members and present five special awards during the event.

New chamber board members who will be recognized during the banquet are Bob Crouthamel, Andy Lambel, Angela Seymour and Valerie Speer. Retiring board members include: Michelle Bredeson, Darrin Jacobs, Michael LeCompte and Whyte.

Near the end of the banquet, those in attendance will have the opportunity to win one of the beautiful table decorations donated by local businesses. The decorations will serve as centerpieces during the banquet.

Tickets for the annual banquet are available at the chamber office, which is located at 504 Main St. in Cassville. Advanced tickets are $20 per person. Tickets will also be available at the door for a cost of $22 per person.

For more information, call Mindi Artherton, chamber executive director, at 847-2814 or email her at chamber@cassville.com.

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