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Close-to-home vacation

July 1, 2011 - Jodelle Greiner
If you’re looking for a summer vacation for all ages that will give you a different experience, but one that will be close to home, check out the Wilder Pageant this month near Walnut Grove.

Laura Ingalls Wilder spent several of her growing-up years in Walnut Grove and wrote about them in “On the Banks of Plum Creek”, part of her “Little House” series of books that chronicle her life in the late 1800s. Every summer, local actors around Walnut Grove bring to life the times in which Laura lived and what her family went through.

If you’ve read the book or the series, you might be in for a surprise. The books have a homey, story-telling feel aimed for young readers, but the pageant shows more of the real-life heartaches and hardships of what the Ingalls family and their neighbors went through. There are parties and church gatherings, but there is also anguish over lost crops, discouragement over how many people are leaving town because they can’t make a go of it, and worry about survival in the face of fire, grasshoppers, and no money.

Dates for this year’s pageant are July 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23; shows begin at 9 p.m. Call the information center at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum at (888) 528-7298 or visit for details and updates.

I attended the pageant the last two years and talked to folks who have come from all over the country (and world) to see it. Whole families: mom, dad, kids and grandparents, attend together. A lot of the girls, and even some adults, wear period costumes and carry items that Laura and her sisters would have had. And boys seem to enjoy it as much as their sisters.

I remember going to Walnut Grove when I was a kid and seeing where the dugout in which the Ingalls family lived used to stand. If you take your kids, they will have memories that last for a lifetime.


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