MEDORA, N.D. – The Teddy Roosevelt Medora Foundation’s advertisements ask us to “adore” Medora. I speak for my family, immediate and extended, when I say we definitely do adore Medora. We are stuck on this quaint little historic town and we try to get there at least every other year. This was our year!
We drove on to Medora after a family wedding in Minot. That’s another whole wonderful story, but today adorable Medora is the topic.
Getting there – driving across the Flickertail State (my homeland) is a nostalgic indulgence for me. I don’t need mountains. I don’t need oceans. Give me the quietness of the flatland plains of Dakotaland, the Garrison Dam, Lake Sakakawea and the friendliness of the people in such tiny towns as Pick City and Riverdale. They are among the best.
In the past we’ve pretty much “explored” and done it all in Medora: ride horseback, visit the Chateau De Mores Historic Site and the Harold Schafer Heritage Center, stop at every shop, saw and heard Joe Wiegand portray Teddy Roosevelt in the Old Town Hall Theater (he is incredible), walked the streets or just sat by the pool. Our guys have yet to play the Bully Pulpit Golf Course. Next time.
There are several places to stay in Medora. We like the Badlands Motel.
This time ours was just an overnighter. We arrived Sunday evening in plenty of time for the Pitchfork Fondue. This is an experience in itself as while in line you gaze at the beauty of the rugged badlands below the bluff. When it’s time to be seated, the food is fantastically tasty. We watched the chefs as they threaded juicy steaks on pitchforks before dropping them in huge vats of hot grease for frying.
Some in our party had the steaks and others had the Cowboy Café which included ribs, beef roast and chicken with the rest of the buffet items.
The musical is one of the big reasons why we keep going back to Medora and the last couple times the big draw has been Misti Koop.
We have loved Misti’s music and acting since first seeing her on stage at East Grand Forks Senior High School in the 1990s. We followed her to Red River High School’s stage after she transferred there. Misti went on for a BA in Music from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., and also earned an MA in Theatre Arts from the University of North Dakota.
After a few years as a band teacher, Misti moved to New York City for a time and had an ensemble role in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. She entertained on the Norwegian “EPIC” cruise ship and now, Misti has come home. She teaches music at South Point School in East Grand Forks and once again is spending her summer in Medora as one of the musical’s Burning Hills Singers.
Because we know and love her, Misti is the life of the party for us on the Medora stage. This year is the musical’s 50th year and they have pulled out all the stops. It’s been said that this is Medora’s best one yet. I just might agree although I have loved all I’ve seen.
This summer, performers begin by taking the audience back to the beginning in 1965 in costume and song. As the show progresses, the singers and dancers proceed through the changes made over the decades.
The six member Coal Diggers Band and the show’s hosts, Emily Walker and Bill Sorenson do an amazing job. Along with Misti from our towns (Grand Forks/East Grand Forks), this year the Burning Hills Singers hail from Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, other parts of North Dakota, Maryland, California and Indiana.
The show ends with such a beautiful musical tribute to North Dakota and America that it’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.
I had let Misti know we would be there on the shows’ third night and afterwards we met her by the concession stand to gather our hugs. Here are a few photos of her and the show:
The Medora Musical runs nightly through September 12. Call: 1-800-MEDORA-1 for information. Like us, I know you and your family will “adore” Medora. You won’t be able to help it.