Circle B Theater Branson
Circle B Theater
Fifteen miles outside of Rapid City, South Dakota, sits the Circle B Chuckwagon. Jay and Betty Baldwin and Jack and Beth Engel built the Circle B in the cold winter of 1975. As Jack Engel said, "It was so cold that when you drove a nail into the wood, the wood would crack like a piece of ice."
The Chuckwagon was ready to open on June l, 1976. There were 58 acres, and the Chuckwagon was added on to seat about 1,200. They had the shops, trail rides and a persian team that pulled the wagon.
In 1980, the Circle B Cowboys won the Old West Trail Foundation's William F. Cody Music Award. THis award is given annually to a composer, musical organization or performer whose music captures the essence of the Old West and its people.
On December 26, 1995, the Horn family started a modern-day caravan of five vehicles across country from Baltimore, in blizzards and blocked roads, to arrive at the Circle B on December 31, 1995. January 1, 1996, they were home. The Horn family consists of: father Kemp, a forester from Baltimore; mother Michelle, a long-time attorney; Michael, Kathleen, Megan and Christiana.
The first real experience of the Chuckwagon life came to the Horn's when they went to the Jamboree at the Triple C in Tucson in January. Michelle said, "We were blown away from what we saw in Tucson. So many caring and family-oriented people." After the Jamboree, the Cowboys decided they did not want to stay at the Circle B. The Horn family decided to take on the task of playing. "Our family has been performing in dinner theaters, plays, musicals, and church choir, but not like a Chuckwagon. We decided to put together a group to get us started," stated Michelle.
"We got the motivation that we needed to keep doing better from the other Chuckwagons. They were honest with us and that made us work even harder to better our group. We are really grateful to them for making us learn how to do it right."
Today the family does it all. Christiana sings, plays the recorder and does Irish Dancing. Megan sings, plays the fiddle and also does Irish Dancing. Katie sings lead vocals, plays rhythm guitar and the mandolin. The three girls are the wranglers for the trailrides, help Dad in the kitchen, work the shops, perform and do dishes. Son Mike sings, plays lead guitar and bass, and is the teamster for the antique covered wagon as well as the plumber, carpenter and handyman. Kemp plays standup bass, provides vocals, plays the harmonica, is the head "Circle B Cowboy," the "Cookie" of the outfit and the Sheriff as well. Michelle does whatever is necessary and loves meeting the folks who come to visit. Mark Bridge joins the group on stage singing and playing banjo, madolin and guitar. Ben Lemay plays the fiddle and Roy Hendrickson kicks in with his lead guitar and bass.