Medora musical starts June 8

The Medora Foundation hopes its annual summer musical and the Medora area will be a popular destination for Valley City people this summer.

The musical, now in its 48th year, takes place in the midst of the North Dakota Badlands near the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in southwestern North Dakota.

Foundation board President Randy Hatzenbuhler was touring the state this past week, including a stop Monday in Valley City.

The musical, which takes place with the Badlands as a background, was created by Harold Schafer, who created the foundation in 1986 as a way to continue the annual entertainment.

Schafer died 11 years ago, and this year would have been his 100th birthday, Hatzenbuhler said.

Twenty years ago visitors to the show would have sat on simple seating on a hillside looking over the badlands, and late comers would have held onto weeds and roots at the top of the hill while sitting on the ground.
Hatzenbuhler said since then a more level and larger area with more and comfortable seating has been carved out in the same location at the earlier home of the show.

Although the show changes every year, Hatzenbuhler said it remains “good, clean family-centered song and dance with cowboys and a major tribute to Theodore Roosevelt’s time in the Badlands along with some religion. It’s a variety show that’s been popular for 48 years.”

The town of Medora only has about 100 residents, but Hatzenbuhler said more than 100,000 people attend the musical each year, and more than 2.3 million people have attended since the show began.

The Medora Musical has also been ranked many times as one of the “top 100 events in America” by the American Bus Association.

“The musical often has a thin story line intentionally. Life was tough in the Badlands,” Hatzenbuhler said.

Although western North Dakota is a busy place with the current oil boom, Hatzenbuhler said there are plenty of places to stay on trips to the area.

Local motels include The Bunkhouse, Badlands Motel and the Roughriders Hotel.

However, he said, “it’s smart to plan early. Medora’s popular, and there are days when we sell out.”