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When I attended the Ozarks Cultural Symposium this fall, I got to hear a talk from Susan Scott, the president of the Bonniebrook Historical Society, about the Bonniebrook Gallery, Museum, and Homestead, housed at the former home of Rose O’Neill. Until that talk, I had only been dimly aware of Bonniebrook and Rose O’Neill at all, but I was fascinated to learn about the life of this transplanted Ozarker and to hear the story of how she came to create the home known as Bonniebrook.

Nowadays, this creative, free-spirited illustrator and writer is best known for her creation, the Kewpie. The Kewpie, which began as a cartoon and was later turned into a wildly popular line of porcelain dolls, was one of the first mass-marketed toys in America. But there was much more to the life and works of Rose O’Neill. A prominent illustrator who commanded top dollar for her work, a writer and suffragist, an artist and a supporter of artists, Rose O’Neill lived life on a large scale.

The Bonniebrook Historical Society maintains her home near Branson. It is one of the lesser-known attractions of that area, but definitely deserves to be better known. The season at Bonniebrook runs from mid-April to the end of October, and it begins with an open house and ends with a festival. Here’s the program for their open house:

And their end-of-season festival, The Festival of Painted Leaves, will be October 22. I’m excited to be the keynote speaker for that festival, and will have more to say about it and other October events in the coming months. But for now, if you’re planning a trip to Branson this spring or summer, check out Bonniebrook!

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