My Trip to De Smet 2017 Day 2 Part 3 July 14

We continue with Day 2 Part 3. See Part 1 and Part 2

Bill Anderson 2017
William T. Anderson

We pick up during the second Bill Anderson and Nancy Koupal presentation. This program and Alison and Dean’s were repeated with a different focus, so they each spoke two times each day.

Yay Bill's on again #lauraingallswilder #DeSmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Bill talked about how the organization got started, what were some of the early projects, who was initially involved, and his own role.

This time Nancy focused on her work with the Pioneer Girl project. She specifically focused on what she has learned and what she has continued to learn as she works with the project. She told her story about finding Ma and Pa’s photos which I LOVE! Then she told about getting to see and handle the original tablets of Pioneer Girl in Mansfield, Missouri.

Now more Nancy Koupal #lauraingallswilder #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

I paused walking back to show how De Smet grass looks in July.

See why I was so excited to see green grass when I came in April? #Lauraingallswilder #DeSmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Next it was time to head out to the pageant grounds. Admission is now $15.00. I recommend bringing a lawn chair if possible. The lawn chairs are supposed to go halfway between the benches so someone can sit behind you if they want. This was the first year I saw people confused by the system and two whole rows that jammed their lawn chair right up against the bench effectively taking up two spaces by making the one behind them unusable which was especially bad because attendance was high both days during the event.

Don't know if you can tell from photo but think biggest crowd I've seen here #desmetpageant

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

The coolest thing was that the pre-show began with Dean Butler driving a real wagon and team onto the stage. He was joined by Cork Poppen who played Almanzo for 30 years during the run of the pageant and Broden Lesch who is this year’s Almanzo. A cheer of excitement rose when people realized who was driving.

Dean Butler DROVE team &wagon on to the set #lauraingallswilder #DeSmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

I really have to say this is the best De Smet pageant in 2 or 3 years. Pa and Laura both gave really solid performances, but the Nellie Oleson was great, but Baby Grace stole every scene she was in.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
I really liked how they did the crows with flying crows on sticks which fit in well with the fact they were supposed to be beating the crows off.

Really clever blackbirds on poles while they knock "off" with poles. #DeSmetevent #desmetpageant.

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Another really great part was when Mary said she desperately wanted to go to Iowa, to which we say “natch.” Everyone wants to come visit Iowa — or should.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
A few years ago the highlight of the pageant was because the romance between Laura and Almanzo played the best I’ve ever seen it done (there were other issues, but THAT was incredible). This year the relationship between Mary and Laura was the best I’ve seen portrayed. You really felt a sisterly bond between them and it really sold why Laura was willing to do things she didn’t want to do in order to help, not just the family in general, but Mary in particular.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

There was also a lot of really good comic relief this year.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Some extra information.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
asfdsdfsdf

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Another really great thing was that they did a lot with live horses this year. Normally they leave most of that to Walnut Grove, but live horses were in multiple scenes throughout the pageant including reenacting Almanzo’s buggy race win with two horses and wagons where one pulls ahead.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
They did the July 4th scene complete with lemonade.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
I’m still not sure why this spontaneously happened. Normally you only stand for the national anthem. I don’t know if people were mistaken about what song it was, were just feeling especially patriotic, or what?

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
I was also really surprised about the weather. My classic pageant advice was to bring sweatpants and a sweatshirt to pull on for later. After sweating to death the last couple of pageants, I had stopped following that advice. Apparently those were the exceptions, I wanted and didn’t have sweats that night.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
They had Miss Wilder use the “Birds in their little nests agree” poem. I love its use in Laddie.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Of course, they said Almanzo wrong. — But that’s all right Almanzo got Laura’s name wrong in one scene he called her Miss Wilder several times.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

After that I went back to the hotel. Alison and Dean had stuck around and watched the pageant from the back and took some photos with the pageant cast afterwards, but I had left before that. Catch you tomorrow!

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

My Trip to De Smet 2017 Day 2 Part 2 July 14

We continue on during Day 2.

Next was the joint presentation by Bill Anderson and Nancy Koupal. A technical error meant I got to pinch hit and introduce them. They were reading letters from Bill’s book Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Then they answered questions. Both Bill and Nancy have been interviewed this year. Nancy told my favorite homesite story both on the podcast and that day.

Nancy Koupal and William T. Anderson

Bill pointed out how the story he was telling took place in that very school, right there and pointed across the road. It really renewed my thrill at being RIGHT THERE.

Bill got me all excited about 1st school again #lauraingallswilder. #desmetevent @discover_laura

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

After that there was a break for lunch and then Paul introduced Dean and Alison again.

Paul V introducing Dean & Alison #lauraingallswilder #littlehouseontheprarie #DeSmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Dean once again spoke. It was based on questions from the audience and while there was some reputation from this morning, there were also different questions. Dean reports even his wife has said, “If only I could meet a man like Almanzo.”

Even my wife says she wants to meet a guy like Almanzo #lauraingallswilder #DeSmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

The crowd once again spilled out of the tent.

This time it was Dean’s turn to go first and Alison followed. One of the most interesting things Alison shares about is the French people’s obsession with the Little House on the Prairie TV show. The interest is so great that Alison has learned enough French that she can do a version of her one-woman show in French. She talks about how “chopping wood like Charles Ingalls” is a phrase used for working hard and how falling down in wildflowers like Baby Carrie is a thing in France.

@alisonarngrim @Arngrim on stage talking about France obsession for #littlehouseontheprarie

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Follow on for more posts.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura and the Butter Cow

GREAT NEWS! Laura Ingalls Wilder will be attending the best fair in the country this August! (OK, Texas might have a bit of an argument with that, but honestly we’re the one they wrote a book about see State Fair by Phil Stong – or watch the movies.)

The Iowa State Fair has announced:

The Iowa State Fair Butter Cow heads to the prairie with her companion sculpture, Laura Ingalls Wilder! In 2017, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100% cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Stop into the Agriculture Building and see Laura, along with a replica of the official Solheim Cup trophy, all sculpted in butter August 10-20.

George Washington Carver carved in Butter
George Washington Carver in Butter – One of my all time favorites

So What’s a Butter Cow?

A butter cow is one of those things that are unique to State Fairs. Other fairs still have them, but the Iowa State Fair’s is famous. The line to view this year’s cow reaches the full length of the Agriculture building. The tradition in Iowa began in 1911. They are part of the long tradition of showing off your agricultural products to help boost sales. The butter cow was a bit of a late comer to the tradition since to really be viable you needed a refrigerated case.

There had been a series of sculptors with the most famous being Norma “Duffy” Lyon who did a butter cow from 1960 to 2006. In 2007 her apprentice Sarah Pratt took over and has worked on the butter cows ever since.

Learn more about the butter cows and find links to Iowa Public Television’s news stories about them through the years:

https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/butter-cow

Butter Cow Line
Butter Cow Line

Beyond the Cow

The focus used to be all cow, all the time. However, every so often an occasional second sculpture joined and starting in at least 1996 one has appeared every year.

This year they’ve chosen someone whose 150th birthday is this year and some sports thing.

In 2017, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100% cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Laura Ingalls Wilder spent part of her childhood in Burr Oak, Iowa and her sister Mary attended the Vinton School for the Blind in Iowa. Various birthday celebrations and festivals are happening across the Midwest in recognition of her birthday. More butter please- West Des Moines will be host to the international golf tournament for women. Sarah Pratt, Iowa State Fair butter sculptor since 2006 will be bringing a little bit of the Solheim Cup to the Iowa State Fair as she creates a replica of the official trophy. Both Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Solheim Cup trophy will be on display with the Butter Cow in the John Deere Agriculture Building throughout the Fair. 

Viewing Tips

The butter cow is located on the agricultural products section of the Agriculture Building on the Iowa State Fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The statues are only displayed during the actual run of the fair, this year August 10-20. A line forms to walk directly in front of the glass case. Normally you can get a semi-decent view from passing on the other side of the line or from the top of the balcony on the opposite side but either will be partially blocked by the line directly in front of the case.

Be aware that standard practice now is to demonstrate the sculpting during the fair so early in the run of the Fair Laura may not be fully done.

For tips about visiting the Iowa State Fair in general check out my touring plans on my podcast:

https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/travel-times-at-the-iowa-state-fair

Snow White - Another all time favorite
Snow White – Another all time favorite

News Coverage

I’m sure there will be a lot of coverage of this as the fair goes on but these two articles are first out of the gate.

http://whotv.com/2017/07/24/laura-ingalls-wilder-will-join-butter-cow-at-2017-iowa-state-fair/amp

http://www.kcci.com/article/state-fair-butter-cow-will-get-famous-roommate/10350979

Thank You

I also want to send thanks to DMACC and Kelly Pelzel who sent me the news.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

My Trip to De Smet 2017 Day 2 Part 1 July 14

I hope you enjoyed Day 1. Here is the first part of Day 2.

I got up early on Friday and redid my blog post featuring my podcasts about the event and published it. The wireless was completely unstable and fairly unusable the night before. I was staying at the Super Deluxe Inn and I’ve never had that happen before.

We had breakfast there in the hotel and this time brought along some bakery of own to add back in our room. Bakery is something their breakfast is lacking so you might want to bring along some on your next trip. You can even keep them in the refrigerator. (FYI it was pumpkin bars.)

I was hoping to head over first thing, but spent a lot of time chatting to people I know instead. The schedule seemed like things would start at 9am so I headed over about then. I was concerned about getting parked in if I drove having no idea how many people would show up. I had driven around the night before and realized it was just 3 blocks from the hotel to the event area by the Surveyor’s House. So I walked over from the hotel and that worked rather well. If you’re doing a full tour including a drive over to the Third Street House, you’ll want your car, but it was a nice walk. Here’s is the street sign for the corner you turn on to get the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society area, Olivet and 4th.

Oliver St #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

They were still getting set up when I arrived and they got a couple of these great banners.

Great new #lauraingallswilder sign in signing que #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Judy Thompson was already on hand signing books and selling prints of her work. Thompson had been an artist in residence at the Homestead National Monument. Her series was displayed at the South Dakota State Historical Society Museum, the same building that houses the SDHS Press. Nancy Koupal saw them there and commissioned Thompson to do covers for the Pioneer Girl series to a set of requirements.

Judy Thompson #PioneerGirl illustrator

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Although they spoke a couple of different times each day, people crowded under the tent for each performance by Alison Arngrim and Dean Butler. Here’s the crowd waiting for them to come out.

Waiting Crowd for speakers #lauraingallswilder #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Paul Valenti introducing Alison asks “What show has the number 1 fanbase?”

What TV show has number 1 fan base? #lauraingallswilder #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Alison as always puts on a great show and managed to look great too despite the hot temperatures.

Alison Arngrim on stage @Arngrim @alisonarngrim

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Dean Butler said to remind him never to follow Alison, but he put on just as good a show.

Dean Butler #lauraingallswilder #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Me and Pauly Tee who not only takes trips to both TV and real Laura sites, but generously shares his photos online.

Me with Pauly Tee #lauraingallswilder #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Judy Thompson talking. One of her most interesting points was that she doesn’t consider herself an illustrator, but a watercolor artist. She seeks to show artistic truth rather than literal truth.

Judy Thompson presenting about illustrating #PioneerGirl. Project #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

Look for the other report posts soon.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

My Trip to De Smet 2017 Day 1 July 13

This trip I’m telling my story mostly by Instagram. If you want to see my Laura photos find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and follow. To get the details of this event check out my previous post. It also includes links to two interviews with Dean Butler.

I took a different path than I normally do this time and took I-80 to I-29. On the plus side that meant lunch at the Cracker Barrel. (Note: there is also both a Cracker Barrel and a Sonic in Sioux Falls, SD if you’re looking for good chains you don’t normally get to. Sonic is a drive in.) The bad part was almost the instant we turned on I-29 it was construction all the way until you got past Brookings, SD.

Just finished up lunch and filled up #desmetevent

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

A stop at a rest area and we saw horses in the pets area. I tried to get a photo with the pets area sign AND the horses, but the angles just didn’t work.

In the pets area of the rest area

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

And remember I told you to find Sonic? We actually bought these in Sioux Falls and took them on to De Smet in a cooler for supper.

Sonic- – getting closer

A post shared by Sarah Uthoff (@sarahsuthoff) on

With the filling lunch and stopping for a bit in Sioux Falls we actually got to De Smet a little latter than I like to so we checked in, unloaded the car, and went to bed early so we could get an early start the next day.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. 

Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

De Smet Event 2017

It’s FINALLY here! Today starts the De Smet Event 2017 (July 14-16). Below find links to my interviews about it and other places you might want to know about. I’ve also written up summaries of the interviews if you just want to scan them instead. (Oh and by the way, I looked it up and first De Smet Event was 2005.)

Horses and Covered Wagon
Horses and Covered Wagon at Ingalls Homestead

De Smet Event

I interviewed Tessa Flak back in May. Here’s all the scoop.

Find the Schedule

Dean Butler and Alison Arngrim will start with the paid autographs at 10:30am. They will break at noon and will cut off the line ahead of the break. Everyone who buys a ticket will get signed.

They’re not going to do photos during the signing because they want people to attend the autograph session on Sunday morning with a photo session.

On Sunday they are going to do a Confession from Prairies show with Alison Arngrim. It’s the family friendly version of her show. It will be at 2pm  and include a reception. Tickets are required.

Nancy Koupal is a Memorial Society board member from the 1990s. She’ll talk about the Pioneer Girl Project and Bill might jump in.

Judy Thompson is the artist behind covers of Pioneer Girl and Pioneer Girl Perspectives. She’s present and demonstrate drawing. Her original artwork will be on display.  The prints of the covers are available for sale.

William T. Anderson is the main Laura authority. He’s going to talk about how he got involved with Laura and his history with De Smet.

All programs will be varied so not the same each day.

Programs will be held in a tent in the museum’s park which is besides the city park with the one-room school that serves as a hands on discovery center. The street between the Surveyors House and Gift Shop and the park will be closed.

Dean and Alison signatures will be $6 per item signed. You want six signatures, you need six tickets. There are no official limits on what to sign. If you don’t have anything you want signed, they will have photos available for sale in the gift shop.

At the pageant Dean and Alison will have a question and answer session before the pageant starting at 7pm. They will only take cash and check. The pageant starts at 8pm. There is food available on grounds and a gift shop.

Tip bring own chairs. The food is like what you would find at a high school sporting event.

They will have additional wagons on the grounds this summer. When you go through the gate. You get a prize drawing slip, a wagon riding ticket, a newspaper of the event. They will do a state roll call. The rule is you have to yell for your home state and EXTRA loud for Iowa.

New to the Memorial Society’s collection is the restored 1880s covered wagon and 3 new archival cases.

The gift shop has the Surveyors House Cookie Cutter. There is also going to be a new, updated, and extended edition of the Ingalls Family of De Smet in honor of the 60th Anniversary of the museum.

Dean Butler

I also interviewed Dean Butler about the De Smet event.

Dean Butler was interviewed previously on the show in 2014 in honor of the TV show’s 40th anniversary event.

I was glad to welcome him back to talk about some of his most common “Little House” questions, what signing events are like in general, and what’s going to happen in De Smet in particular.

A note about the sound. It’s a little low so you’ll want to turn it up, but be aware there are a couple places where it will suddenly pop loud. Unfortunately the connection could have been better.

Dean Butler, a died Pepsi person, who played Almanzo on the NBC version of The Little House on the Prairie TV show. He started actin in High School in a production of Once Upon a Mattress. (Fun fact: I was also in a completely different high school production of Once Upon A Mattress – made famous by Carol Burnett – as a unnamed and unnumbered lady in waiting.)

His big break was in a movie version of Forever by Judy Blume. Michael Landon’s daughter was a fan and helped get him an audition. He was hired two weeks before graduation. Later he would appear as Moondoggie in The New Gidget and Buffy’s dad on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was associated with several iconic young woman characters and is honored to have those associations.

He thinks people like the Chicken Cinnamon episode is popular because it’s a good example of Laura’s gumption. Almanzo’s favorite food was really Liver’n’Onions.

Almanzo-Almonzo Dean has finally been convinced to pronounce it Almanzo the clincher being the recording of Laura saying his name. You can buy the recording, it’s called Laura Ingalls Wilder Speaks. Find it at any of the homesite museum giftshops online or in person. He always points out Lucy Lee Flippin was the first to pronounce it that way and he got pounded by fans for pronouncing it wrong from the beginning.

Dean attends a couple of signing events every year. He has 6 scheduled this summer. It’s important to be out there and keep the show alive to pay back the fans for their investment and support. His wife always says he’s going off for another weekend of adoration. One of the best parts of signing is the multi-generational component. He often signs books for daughter-mother-grandmother.

It’s a different signing experience at homesites and much better. Once at a mall a teenager got very aggressive and drew attention to how there really is trust between signers and signee. There is also a balance in signing how to make a connection with each person, but not to let them monopolize your time. Signing body parts doesn’t phase him, but he doesn’t like signing things people probably won’t keep like a wadded up napkin or a ratty piece of paper. He prefers something solid, like a book or a photo.

Dean’s programs are extraneous and focus on his experience with the TV show. The cast mostly gets together at appearances. He has been to the location of the exterior of the show set many times since the show ended. You can really tell where the Ingalls homestead was, but the town site is completely grown over. The last time he was there you could still find some debris from the big explosion and it took him right back to the day they watched it explode. I asked a follow up about the covered bridge with open sides. He says it’s on the Disney ranch. Besides, Little House look for that bridge on shows like The Dukes of Hazzard, Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, NCIS, etc. Those are off the top of my head, feel free to add to the list in the comments below. Keep an eye out for it. Info on visiting the site.

 

T-Shirt of the Month July 2017

When I post my video diaries I always get comments about my Laura clothes. No, not my period dresses, but my Laura Ingalls Wilder t-shirts that I wear for travel and Laura trips. I thought everyone might enjoy a closer look at them. So enjoy our new monthly series where we look at a Laura shirt each month.

Shirt of the Month

Here is this month’s t-shirt:

 

Spring Valley Red 2016
Spring Valley Red 2016

Spring Valley

Spring Valley, Minnesota is located conveniently near Burr Oak, Iowa and is one of the smaller Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites. The James Wilder family had moved here from New York when Almanzo was a teenager and they had a well established horse farm. Laura, Almanzo, and Rose stayed with Mother and Father Wilder after they sold out in De Smet and before they ventured on to Florida.

The Methodist Church in town was finished during their time there and they would have attended. Today it houses the Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum. Most of the set up is a typical county style museum with things like a collection of materials from churches in the area that have closed down and buckets without a flat bottom (to discourage people borrowing them for their own use and forgetting to bring them back). There is a upper class house museum and additional outbuildings with agriculture equipment and a one-room school. They are especially proud of their stain glass windows.

Want to learn more about the Spring Valley connection? Look for the book and/or listen to my podcast about it.

What’s Wilder to See

The museum has done a great job of research and has made to most of what they have tracking down every scrap they could find about Almanzo, Laura, and his family’s time in Spring Valley. Find the display they’ve created out of this on the second floor. (They have a wonderful research archive that is not on display.)

The Wilder house was torn down before Wilder’s fame was established, but you can still see the horse barn believed to be used by the Wilder family from the road. (Be aware the owner is beyond sick of Wilder fans and doesn’t want them on his property.)

Finally, the Spring Valley Cemetery is the resting place of several Wilder Relatives, most importantly Almanzo’s brother, Royal Wilder and his two infant daughters.

Gift Shop

One of the surprising things about Spring Valley is their gift shop. As a small museum it certainly doesn’t have the breadth of say Walnut Grove, De Smet, or Mansfield, but they go out of their way to have unique and interesting things. This is the only place you’ll find one of my favorite Laura dolls, a boy Almanzo cloth doll.

This t-shirt is another example of something unique, both Spring Valley and Burr Oak are known for having bright colored t-shirts where many of the other Laura related giftshops have more sedate colors. Walnut Grove has been making a stab in this direction also with their short term specialty shirts for events which have been orange and a very bright robin egg’s blue.

So if you’re looking for a shirt that shows off just how bright and sunny you feel to be visiting a Laura homesite, check out the shirts in Spring Valley. Note they do NOT have an online store, but do take phone and e-mail orders. (507) 346-7659 or wilderinspringvalley@hotmail.com

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.