Schafer, Hatzenbuhler: A Thanksgiving Like None Other

Every organization and community faced the pandemic challenges of 2020; few can feel as fortunate as the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF).

Thanksgiving for Medora and TRMF has a historic dimension this year.

First, there is the remarkable announcement from the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation that they have achieved their first milestone goal of securing $100 million in private commitments to build the Library near Medora. Congratulations to them! Our team continues to work with the Library Foundation in many ways, and we’re thankful for their effort to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to North Dakota.

Check out for the latest news from the Library folks.

Not being able to open for the season in 2020 was a very real possibility. It would have been understandable. We are thankful for a board that had the confidence and courage to operate. In spite of challenges, 2020 was incredibly rewarding. 

We are thankful for our customers. They came to Medora and they raised our spirits with comments, cards, letters, emails, texts and phone calls telling us how important it was for them to be in the Badlands – and that Medora and the Musical made them feel positive about their state, their country, and life.

We are fortunate that the Medora Musical, the Pitchfork Fondue, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and the Bully Pulpit Golf Course are in peaceful and spacious outdoor settings. Guests felt safe.

We changed the way we operated to go beyond state and CDC recommendations. Guidelines would have allowed for 75% capacity; we limited our Medora Musical capacity to 45%. Our cast and crew put on two shows for most Saturdays and Sundays so that we kept capacity low and met demand.

We are thankful for the results and the people who made them possible. We achieved about 80% of a “normal” year’s visitation.

We are thankful for our volunteers – there is no way we would have made it without them – and thankful for our many partners who all pitched in to do things differently in this very unusual year.

Medora provided a needed place for recreation and entertainment. It is a privilege to be part of an organization that believed in its vision, “to connect people to Historic Medora for positive, life-changing experiences.” We are deeply thankful for our generous donors and members who encouraged and supported us as we strove to live up to that vision.

Please check out to become a 2021 member or learn more about TRMF.   

One of the most rewarding comments of the year was also one of the shortest: a simple, hand-written message on a sticky note that read, “Thanks for being tough, when it’s tough.” We’re thankful we had the chance to work hard, to be tough, to find new ways to do something good for North Dakota this summer. We’ll keep working to be ready for 2021, too. For that we’re thankful.

We wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season.

Ed Schafer
TRMF Chairman of the Board
Randy Hatzenbuhler
TRMF President

In our article’s featured image (at top), Hatzenbuhler, first-ever Bully Spirit Award recipient, Rolf Sletten, and Schafer are pictured together from a 2018 file photo.