The Ingalls arrive in their covered wagon Photo: William Richards
Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant
Presented every July in Walnut Grove, the Wilder
Pageant is a family-oriented outdoor drama with all Laura Ingalls
Little House on the Prairie book characters. An
actress playing a 70-year-old Laura narrates the story, reflecting
on her life in Walnut Grove during the 1870s.
The stage at the hillside amphitheater where the
drama is presented was designed to facilitate extensive lighting,
sound, special effects, and imaginative sets. Laura Ingalls Wilder,
famous author of the children's
Little House series of
books, was born in Wisconsin, and moved with her family to Walnut
Creek. Her family was one of the pioneer families who settled
Walnut Grove, following the Homestead Act of 1862.
The Walnut Grove pageant developed as a result of the
popular 1970s TV series,
Little House on the Prairie, set
in Walnut Creek (although DeSmet, South Dakota, was the book's
setting) . When tourists started coming to Walnut Creek, the
community decided to create something relevant for them to see. A
museum was developed in an old train depot, and filled with Laura
Ingalls Wilder memorabilia. About this same time, a local college
student, Jim Merchant, approached the museum committee about a play
he was writing about the Ingalls life in Walnut Creek. The museum
decided to sponsor his play,
Fragments of a Dream, which
first played in 1978 to standing room only crowds in the sweltering
summer heat in the auditorium at Walnut Grove High School. The
following year, the pageant moved to its permanent home on the
banks of Plum Creek. The production is a year-round job for the
Wilder Pageant committee, made up of local volunteers.
Documentation includes a text report, 22 photographs,
Originally submitted by: David Minge, Representative (2nd District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.