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Despite the pandemic, the show goes on in Medora, N.D.

Neal Justin, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Travel News

On some nights in the North Dakota Badlands, there are forces more threatening than the coronavirus.

Fifteen minutes before the cast of the "Medora Musical" was expected to launch into its opening number on a July night, an executive who had clearly drawn the short straw shuffled onto the outdoor stage to announce that impending lightning was forcing them to scrub that evening's performance.

As the roughly 700 spectators filed out of the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, one teenager allowed herself a moment of sarcasm -- "Supergood!" -- before cajoling her companions to stop for ice cream on the way home.

If the attendees were taking the cancellation in stride, it's only because this tiny tourist town that President Teddy Roosevelt once called home offers so many other options.

While live entertainment is all but dead in most parts of the country, Medora is offering a full slate of shows, from cover bands at Boots Bar & Grill to a former mayor performing magic tricks at the Old Town Hall Theater.

Part of the reason locals are so bully on opening their doors is that the area remains relatively COVID-19-free.


There's been only one confirmed case in Billings County since the pandemic started, according to Justin Fisk, marketing and communications director for the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, which runs almost all the shows and hotels in the area.

"I'm not more worried about it than someone spreading the flu during Cowboy Christmas," said businessman Travis Enders, referring to the city's annual winter carnival. As owner of the local wine bar, Uncork'd, Enders recently opened his doors to live music. Face masks are optional.

Bill Sorensen, who does a magic show and "sermonizes" during the Medora Gospel Brunch, is more cautious than most, practicing social distancing whenever he can.

That's not easy for him to do.


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