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Published May 12, 2014, 10:33 AM

Medora, ND, offers summer prairie escape

The vast scenic views of Medora, N.D., draw travelers far and wide to its green hills and earth-swallowing blue skies.

By: Bianca Bina, Agweek

The vast scenic views of Medora, N.D., draw travelers far and wide to its green hills and earth-swallowing blue skies. The tranquil landscape offers relief from the hustle and bustle of the work week, but the fluffy, white clouds floating in the sky over roaming buffalo in the Badlands also creates the perfect backdrop for events and activities across town. This year, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation has created an event list to entice visitors of every age, with varying interests.

On the green

One of the best in the country, Bully Pulpit Golf Course conforms to the Badlands landscape, providing players with the signature No. 15 hole, atop one of the highest peaks of the hills in the area. Now open for the season, the course is host to the Floor to Ceiling Carpet One Golf Outing, held May 21, an annual event opening the summer season of Medora’s traditional event schedule.

Battle at Bully Pulpit is a challenge for younger golfers in a world-class event. On June 8, a Tee Time Start begins at noon, with a Shotgun Start the following day, June 9, at 8 a.m., grouping players by age. The winner of each age group will advance to the Junior World Event in Las Vegas in July. During this junior challenge, the course will be available to the public during certain periods of time only.

Performances galore

Running June 6 to July 6, the famed Medora Musical will showcase the “greatest show in the west” on the outdoor stage, as it does every year. This year’s performance of Cirque Zuma Zuma will be returning by popular demand, as it drew positive reviews from last summer’s crowds.

“Our returning act, Cirque Zuma Zuma, was so overwhelmingly well-received by attendees in the amphitheatre and on social media last year that we have to bring them back,” says Justin Fisk, Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation marketing director. Featuring an African circus act of rhythmic dance, music and acrobatics, the group was a finalist on America’s Got Talent and has been lauded across North America as the African-style Cirque du Soleil.

Performing July 7 to Aug. 6 is comedian Jeff Nease, a finalist in New York’s National Lampoon’s Comedy Play-Offs, and seasoned improvisational performer with experience in international television appearances. Nease has gained quite the following and is guaranteed to please the Medora crowd.

“Over 91 percent of guests surveyed after last year’s show gave our comedian act their highest or second-highest rating,” Fisk says. “So we are really excited to see this year’s comic, Jeff Nease, get our guests laughing.”

Completing the season’s performances is Chicago Boyz, another acrobatic team comprised of professional gymnasts from the Chicago area. From Aug. 7 to Sept. 6 this troupe will perform stunts and tricks with jump ropes, trampolines and team members, timing each twirl and spin flawlessly. Members of the team are young men and boys who vow to stay in school, maintain good grades and abstain from drugs and alcohol, encouraging a positive and healthy lifestyle.

“Every year, we try to book a fun mix of variety acts that complement the entertainment of the Medora Musical really well, and this year I think attendees will really see and enjoy that mix,” says Kinley Slauter, Medora Musical Amphitheatre manager.

Special events

Veteran’s Day falls on July 13 this year, and Medora is planning a celebration befitting men and women, past and present, who serve our country. Start the day with a cool escape from the hot summer sun, register the family for the day’s activities and dive in to the ice cream social at Tjaden Terrace. Afterward, tap your feet and dance away the calories at the Adolph Burkhardt Country Western Concert in the Community Center. In the early evening, a keg social and flag retirement at Tjaden Terrace will be held before the special flag ceremony. Top off the day with the Medora Musical, Cirque Zuma Zuma and curb hunger with the famous Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner. The Foundation requests all veterans wear service caps throughout the day to honor all branches of service. Veterans will receive a free pass to the Medora Musical and the afternoon concert, in honor of their service.

With North Dakota’s strong presence and history of Native American culture, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame will be presenting its annual Day of the Plains Horse People program on Aug. 9. Past years have included presentations of Native American educators from the Spirit Lake Nation, offering perspectives about conflicts and prominent historical events. The day has also included panels, followed by question-and-answer sessions to gain clarity and perspective on each year’s themes.

Finale weekend

Catch Cirque Zuma Zuma’s final performance on Sept. 6, as the Medora summer festivities come to a close. The Deadwood Wagon Train parade will come through town as if on cue, as 60 wagons and 200 riders finish the finalleg of the Medora to Deadwood Trail. Enjoy another Pitchfork Steak Fondue the following day, Sept. 7, and pick up some last minute mementos for your friends and family at the Medora Memorabilia gift shop blowout sale.

The clear, open skies provide the needed airspace for the Hot Air Balloon Rally, Sept. 6 and 7. With early-morning and evening schedules available for thrill-seekers, the opportunity will provide passengers with an overhead view of the Badlands, the city of Medora and more.

Though the summer is officially over after the finale weekend, the city of Medora offers events throughout the remainder of the year. But the memories of summer spent with friends and family, wandering historic North Dakota and participating in activities not found anywhere else will last.

Plenty of opportunities await the eager summer tourists in Medora. Get started on a summer itinerary by viewing the events calendar at www.medora.com.

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