Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Buys RFD Theater in Branson
Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Dec. 7, 2016 —The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., has just acquired the former RFD-TV theater in Branson, Mo. The 2,000-seat theater and over 8 acres of land were bought from foreclosure auction this week on the Taney County Courthouse steps for $3.2 million. Vinton Commercial Realty, Chris Vinton, represented Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment.
David Fee, president and chief executive officer of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group said, “We are pleased to become members of the Branson community. We have several ideas of possible plans for our new theater and we plan to meet with city officials to talk about all of the various possibilities.
“We believe in the Branson market and our long-term plan is to renovate the theater and have a presence in Branson for many years to come,” Fee said. “We intend to invest heavily in the community and will be looking for support for our project from local businesses and city partners to help us bring one of our ventures to the Branson area. In the short-term however, we may rent out the theater until our long-term plans can be confirmed. I’m sure many of you have heard that the Smoky Mountains just suffered from devastating wildfires and many of our employees were affected. This will possibly delay our long-term plans as our entire company is heavily involved in helping our employees and our community. This purchase however, was an opportunity for our company’s growth which will definitely help all of our employees in the long run.
“I visited the area many times growing up when my mother’s family would come to Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri for family reunions,” Fee said. “I fell in love with the region then, but I never dreamed I’d have a business there. However, once you fall in love with a place, it is really hard to get out it of your system, and Branson is a family destination where people come to see shows, so it fits in with our successful business model that we have had in Pigeon Forge.
“We want to bring enjoyment to people, be good Branson community leaders, create jobs in Branson and most of all we want to be able to give back to the community,” Fee said. “We continue to pursue our goal of being one of the world’s largest CLEAN family theatrical entertainment companies. We Sell FUN!” The company currently has over 400 employees and entertains almost one million guests annually in the Pigeon Forge market.
David Fee and Jim Hedrick founded the Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group 22 years ago. After entertaining at two World’s Fairs and subsequently working over 11 years as senior management for Carnival Cruise Lines, the two friends returned home to East Tennessee. Since then their organization has evolved from a two-man dream to one of the premier show production companies in the Southeast that includes four major theaters, ten shows and a restaurant.
Over time Fee/Hedrick has produced many shows in Pigeon Forge for millions of visitors and is one of Pigeon Forge’s most successful businesses. The company currently owns and produces many shows in the Smoky Mountain area including: “The Comedy Barn®,” “The Smoky Mountain Opry™,” “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner and Feud™,” “The Smith Morning Show” and “Magic Beyond Belief™” starring Darren Romeo.
In November and December, the company presents “Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry, ™” “The Hatfield and McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Feud, ™”, “The Comedy Barn® Christmas Show” and “The Smith Morning Christmas Show.” In addition, the company produces a seasonal “Amazing Animals®” Show in the summer at The Comedy Barn® Theater. The newly purchased theater is Fee/Hedrick’s only property in Missouri.
The former RFD Theater is located off Highway 76, nearby top attractions in the city. The theater was originally built for Ray Stevens in 1991, and he left the theater in 2005. Stevens is known for such hits as “The Streak” and “Everything is Beautiful.”