On June 15th, 2021, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation welcomed five fantastic speakers to the Rough Riders Hotel in Medora. There, those speakers shared wisdom that applies to business, family, faith, and everything in between.
We called it the first annual Wisdom Chain Day—and it was a wonderful event. We had a conference room full of business leaders from not only North Dakota, but around the country. But in case you weren’t able to join us, we wanted to make all five of those presentations available to you in podcast form!
Our first episode is about The Wisdom Chain Philosophy, and it features a presentation by TRMF President Randy Hatzenbuhler. Listen below!
Each week for the next five weeks, we’ll release another Wisdom Chain speech in your podcast feed. Just follow the links below to subscribe, and they’ll show up right in your favorite podcast app!
If you caught Studio 701 on Wednesday morning this week on CBS in western North Dakota, you were treated to a whole lot of Medora! As you can see, they had a whole lot of fun:
We were happy to host the 701 crew in town for a day, and they got to hear from Burning Hills Singers, great in-town performers like Emily Walter, Tom Brosseau, and Max from Wild & The Animal Band, and even share a message from President Roosevelt himself.
Here’s a round-up of all the fun segments they shared this week!
Sunday, July 11th, 2021 was a red-letter day in Medora.
That’s because we were thrilled to host another wonderful Veterans and Military Appreciation Day. Under a warm July sun (with enough wind to keep the bugs away all evening!) an audience of nearly 3,000 Medora Musical attendees was able to say thank you to heroes past and present!
On Sunday, we invited active duty and retired military members to see the Medora Musical free of charge… ride Manitou the Point to Point Zipline at no cost… and socialize at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue. Dozens, if not hundreds, of service members took advantage—and we were grateful that we could celebrate them.
We’re able to honor those brave men and women thanks to our Veterans Endowment, which was created and initially funded by Mary Larsen. She, Van & Dee Larson, and Guaranty & Title Co. have all contributed at least $25,000 to this growing endowment—and we’re so thankful that they’ve done so. It makes wonderful celebrations like this possible!
Here are a few photos highlighting the wonderful experience that was the 2021 Military and Veterans Appreciation Day in Medora:
Rough Rider Annual Members have the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon ride. Drawing on July 23rd.
We love a good view in Medora—from the breathtaking sight of the Painted Canyon from I-94 to a fabulous top-down view of Medora at Schafer Point along the Pancratz Trail. And we know we’re not alone!
That’s one of the reasons for a unique opportunity we’re giving away this summer: a hot air balloon ride for two on the beautiful Badlands, to be given away to a lucky Rough Rider Annual Member.
It’s simple: if you’re enrolled as a Rough Rider by Friday, July 23rd, you’re automatically in the running to win the hot air balloon ride!
So if you’re a member already, thank you, and good luck! If you’re not yet a member, visit www.medora.com/members.
Being a TRMF Rough Rider means a lot more than the chance to win a hot air balloon ride. You’re also choosing to support the mission and vision of the TR Medora Foundation, and helping us preserve what makes this place special!
Our founder Harold Schafer knew that sometimes, the very best thing you can say is “Thank you.”
That’s how we feel at the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation this week—because the 2021 Black Tie and Spurs gala was even more successful than we could have imagined it would be.
On Friday, June 25th, a few hundred of Medora’s most ardent supporters gathered downtown for a social, a great meal, and a silent and live auction.
Generous partners donated a whole host of items and gift packages to be auctioned off—from an antique safe to a trip to Las Vegas and everything in between.
And our guests kept that generosity going. Even after the live auction was complete, Medora supporters raised their paddles to make cash donations to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
When all was said and done, more than 464 thousand dollars were raised for TRMF.
Those funds will be put directly toward one of our most exciting current projects: Point to Point Park. It’s a multi-phase plan to make Medora even more welcoming to families. Some of it, like the Little Bully Pulpit Mini Golf Course and Maintou the Zip Line, are already up and running—and other pieces, like an aquatic center, are under construction as we speak.
It’s the kind of effort that simply wouldn’t be possible without the passion and support of people who see Medora the way Harold Schafer did long ago: as a special, historic place worth preserving.
To everyone who joined us at the 2021 Black Tie and Spurs gala: thank you. We can’t wait to see you again.
Since our founding in 1986 by Harold and Sheila Schafer, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation has been lucky to have great leaders of character at the helm of our organization. And when we can get almost all of those leaders together in the same room, that’s an occasion worth celebrating!
On June 24th and 25th, 2021, the Board of Directors for TRMF assembled in Medora for two days of meetings. While not every single Board Member was able to join in person, having a nearly-complete group of leaders together was a wonderful thing.
Most exciting of all: the group reached a consensus on some big-ticket items for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation’s future. More on that to come down the road!
On Saturday, June 12th, 2021, more than 200 supporters of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation gathered to celebrate our shared love of Medora. And boy, did we have fun!
We invite you to relive—or experience for the first time—this year’s Rough Riders Roundup by watching the video below. From a stellar performance from the cast of the Medora Gospel Brunch to a poignant tribute to this year’s Bully Spirit Award recipients, it’s a program we’ll remember fondly.
(Click the timestamps below to jump to specific moments from the Roundup!)
Congratulations to Bill and Jane Marcil, this year’s Bully Spirit Award Honorees!
“We’ll meet you over at Bill and Jane’s.”
That’s how folks around Medora often describe the Bill and Jane Marcil Life Skills Center—the namesake of two very special people to Medora. It was built in 2016, thanks in part to tremendous generosity on the part of the Marcils. And today, it provides a space for employees and volunteers in Medora to be themselves, work, grow, and thrive.
Spend four minutes watching the video below to learn more about Bill and Jane Marcil, and see exactly how great of an impact they’ve had on Medora:
The Bully Spirit Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. You can learn more about the award here.
If you made it to this year’s Rough Riders Roundup: thank you so much. It was a delight seeing you again, and we hope you had a terrific time in Medora!
With a little more than 90 minutes, a cast dazzled in rhinestone-western attire stand on stage and tell a romancing story of the Wild West, rehashing historical moments of Theodore Roosevelt’s old stomping grounds in the city of Medora.
The “Medora Musical” has returned to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. Already more than six performances into the 2021 season, Director and Producer Curt Wollan noted that the show gets better each time the lights hit the stage.
“People love to come back because it’s so unique and different. There’s not a show like this anywhere in the country,” Curt Wollan said. “Maybe (there is) in Europe, but they don’t celebrate any political figures like Theodore Roosevelt… This is such a mixture of history (and) variety show and spectacle, and what they used to call ‘epic theater’ — which is when we do the charge of San Juan Hill. It’s huge. It’s stuff blowing up all over the place. So it’s so unique and it’s become such a tradition.”
Music is meshed with contemporary to older country, gospel, patriotic and North Dakota-themed songs. With the “Medora Musical” reining in its 56th year on stage, Curt Wollan said that it has changed due to the evolution of technology, making performances more slick and professional. Each year, the music changes, costumes are redesigned and sets vary. By incorporating a new theme with every summer show season, it allows for the musical to grow, he said. This year, the theme highlights the couples that settled in Medora and played a major role in making it the city that it is today.
“… People want to see what they like and they want to see some new stuff too. So the trick in all of this is trying to do a show (and) write a show that gives them a touch of everything — the charge of San Juan Hill, the patriotic finale, the fireworks, the horses, great Teddy quotes and speeches, singing, dancing, clogging and the great songs that have been written for this show in the past,” Curt Wollan said.
For an entire summer show season, Curt Wollan and his cast begin preparation already in the winter with script writing kicking off in January, followed by auditions — which all took place virtually this past audition season. Rehearsals are approximately one month long.
With his father being the director and producer of the show, Chet Wollan has been involved with the Medora Musical for 15 years along with his wife Candice Lively Wollan that’s returning to the stage for her 11th summer in Medora.
“I love that it’s different every year, so it makes it more interesting instead of a lot of the (other) places you go and you do the same show over and over again; it gets kind of boring. But out here, it’s got the same elephants… (yet) every year it’s got different songs and different people,” Chet Wollan said.
Being involved in the show is a way for the married couple actors to hone in on their craft, and coming back to Medora every summer is like a second home for the Wollans, who live a majority of the year at their home in Tennessee.
“Every year, with it being different, you get to shine in different ways. I don’t have the same solos every year, so that’s really nice to be able to do something different… Every year is a blessing,” Candice Lively Wollan said, who is a Burning Hills singer, company manager and dance captain.
Chet Wollan was a singer/dancer for nine years. Then six years ago, he hung up his dancing shoes to play the role of the host and spent four years alongside longtime entertainer Bill Sorenson. Now, Chet Wollan hosts the show with Annie Freres.
“I think people (will) take away that we’re doing a lot of history stuff this year (and) a lot of cool stories about a lot of different people that worked and lived out here. And actually how difficult it was back then to have the gumption to just do that,” Chet Wollan said.
What started back in 1965 is still relatable in today’s world, Curt Wollan noted.
“It’s a great escape. For a family taking a trip from Connecticut… on their way through Yellowstone, it’s super family-friendly. It’s a great stop on the way and with the park, fondue and all the interesting things to do here,” Curt Wollan said. “… (When) the buildings open up, revealing the Badlands, it’s so spectacular. You can’t paint that.”
For more information on the “Medora Musical” and to reserve tickets, visit medora.com/do/entertainment/medora-musical.
When it comes to encapsulating the western heritage spirit that continues to shine in Medora, there is a long list of names that generously contributed to preserve the wild West. Of those who’ve maintained that “heart of the Bully Spirit,” William and Jane Marcil are at the top of the list who fell in love with Medora.
During a special ceremony of the Rough Riders Roundup, William and Jane Marcil were honored with the Bully Spirit Award Saturday, June 12, at the Medora Community Center. The Bully Spirit Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
As Marcil finished his receiving speech and thanked the foundation, he said to the crowd, “We just love this place.” His family smiled and cheered, including his son and now, CEO of Forum Communications Bill Marcil Jr. Holding the award in his hands, a standing ovation followed after Marcil’s speech.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s a wonderful award and we’re so proud to be recognized by the foundation,” Marcil said.
The Marcils started “this love affair with Medora” back in the ‘70s when they were introduced to Harold Schafer — a major benefactor to the city and a vision for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. For Marcil and his family, Medora became not only a summer spot for camping, but it was a destination.
In 1996, William and Jane Marcil joined the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. But as Marcil saw how the city was evolving, he saw that there was a need in Medora for all of its summer and full-time employees to congregate, grow and learn from each other. So in 2016, the Bill and Jane Marcil Life Skills Center was built with the donation of the Marcil family.
With ongoing projects and preservation efforts, Marcil said he sees the city as an enduring place that will live on for generations.
“I think it’s going to continue to grow. I think the fact that the Roosevelt Library will be out here will add traffic to the area. But I’m confident too, that the city will grow in a way that doesn’t take away from the heritage of what we’re looking at in Medora,” he said.
The western heritage that is preserved in the Badlands has continued to attract the Marcils over the years as they’d go horseback riding, lend a hand with the fall roundup and relive the old ways of the West.
“We’ve just enjoyed Medora and you fall in love with the Badlands and the people… Harold Schafer got us more involved,” he said, adding, “Jane and I both like the outdoors, so it’s just natural for us.”
The Bully Spirit Award was an idea that the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation was considering for a long time before it came to fruition, President Randy Hatzenbuhler said. Then four years ago, the foundation formalized the idea to give recognition to those who have played a major role in making Medora the place it is today, he noted.
Each year, the board that selects the honorees sifts through a long list of philanthropists, benefactors and volunteers, Hatzenbuhler said, adding that it is a “robust process.” From there, the board narrows the search down to four or five names and selects the honoree.
Though it is difficult to just pick one name from the list, Hatzenbuhler said he was thrilled when the board selected the Marcils.
“… I know that they love Medora; I know they love the people that are here in this room. So to be able to do that at a point that they could enjoy it, that felt really good to me,” Hatzenbuhler said.
Medora is a destination where President Theodore Roosevelt and Schafer spent their lives giving everything they had to the city, and it carries on with the Marcil family.
When asked where does the Bully Spirit Award sit on the mantle of other prestigious awards and recognitions, Marcil said, chuckling, “Oh, we’ll find a spot for this one. It will be up in the front row.”
Gift to the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation kicks off new efforts to improve the Medora experience for people with disabilities.
(MEDORA, ND) – The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF) is pleased and humbled to announce the receipt of a $1 million kick-starting gift from the Engelstad Foundation to support a new “Access Medora” initiative – an initiative aimed at improving the Medora experience for guests with disabilities through creative, adaptive solutions and unique amenities in North Dakota’s #1 Tourist Destination.
The first project of the initiative is a pair of high-capacity elevators at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre dedicated to guests with mobility challenges. Currently, guests who require mobility assistance are shuttled in golf carts on a walkway shared with pedestrians, and on busy nights, can experience up to an hour wait for a ride out of the theater. These new, high-capacity elevators will take up to 12guests from the top level of the theater to the midlevel plaza, and back, and should reduce wait times to just a few minutes.