45th Cast Reunion at Walnut Grove FAQs

Here are the official FAQs. Thanks to Paul Valenti for putting these together. I added a few additional statements marked as Blog Ed. Notes and reformatted it a little bit with bold highlighting key points for easy scanning.

Also, for more information check out my interview with museum director Amy.

Before we jump in, I’d also like to give everyone a heads up that the pageant grounds suffered massive flooding in 2018. Part of the income from this event will go to continuing repairs of the pageant to help keep it being a star attraction for visiting Laura fans. – SSU

Paul’s FAQs

1. DO I NEED A TICKET?
[Blog Ed. Note: There are two answers because there will be 2 major events going on.]

Answer A: [Blog Ed. Note: A pageant is an outdoor play almost always put on by volunteers and amateur actors. There are many of them across the country nearly all historic, Shakespeare, or Biblical. This one tells the story of the Ingalls family during their time in Walnut Grove and Burr Oak, Iowa. It’s pretty impressive. Even if you don’t make it for this reunion, always include the pageant if possible on any Walnut Grove Laura trip.]
You need a TICKET to attend the PAGEANT. The pageant occurs in the evenings, both on Friday & Saturday. You can purchase tickets online. You should also be able to buy tickets the day of the pageant, you just may be sitting in one of the back rows!

Answer B: There will be a BRACELET available [for purchase] at the museum store as well as at the City Park where the autographing sessions are being set up. The bracelet will cost $35 for a single day or $60 for the entire weekend. This bracelet enables you to obtain autographs from all of the cast members appearing in Walnut Grove. The cast members will also be selling their individual photos in the museum store and at the City Park for you to purchase separately to have autographed. You will be allowed to bring up to 2 items through the line, per trip, to have autographed. In other words, if you have 4 items, you will be asked to get back in line after your first two items have been signed. Please note….please do not ask the cast members to sign scraps of paper, programs, ticket stubs or photos printed from the internet. They WILL be glad to sign your books, DVDs, CDs, “Little House” related items and their photos which have been purchased from the museum store and on the grounds of the City Park. Anything purchased from the museum store is acceptable for autographing!

2. WHERE DO WE STAY?

Answer: Anywhere you can find a place. Lodging close to Walnut Grove has been sold out for about a month now so you will probably end up at least 30 minutes away as it stands currently. [Blog Ed. Note: Seriously, finding lodging is always the first step in planning a successful Walnut Grove trip. If you do not live close enough to drive home at night do NOT plan on coming until you have lodging worked out. Do that FIRST!]

3. WHERE DO WE FLY INTO?

Answer: Most people coming to Walnut Grove events use the Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) airport due to its favorable connections and better prices compared to the airport in Sioux Falls, SD, even though Sioux Falls IS closer.

4. WHERE DO WE EAT?

Answer: There are several restaurants in Walnut Grove and most people want to make at least one stop at “Nellie’s Cafe”. Be prepared to wait awhile due to the large number of people who are descending on Walnut Grove that weekend. There will also be various vendors situated around if you are looking for something quick. [Blog Ed. Note: The evening of each pageant night local service clubs serve meals in the community center which is on the far end of the block that houses the museum – the distance is a long block and note you will most likely end up walking on gravel for part of it. I highly recommend these pageant suppers to support the town and to get a taste of small town life. They only do the evening meal, but they start serving late afternoon. Also note that Nellie’s is a very small mom and pop/small town cafe style restaurant. It’s actually a little small even for the type of restaurant it is so turn around time to get a table is pretty long. Nellie’s extending their hours during the reunion from 6am to 7:30pm.]

5. HOW DO WE GET AROUND TO THE REUNION EVENTS?

Answer: If you are driving to Walnut Grove on Route 14, IGNORE the DETOUR SIGNS. They are there to keep thru traffic continuing on Highway 14, but you are not going through, you are going TO Walnut Grove. Once you are in Walnut Grove, you’ll find it to be a nice cozy sized town, you can literally walk anywhere in town in about 15 minutes at the most, including to the church to ring “Pa’s Bell”. The pageant, Plum Creek and the LIW dugout site, however, are about a 10 minute drive from Walnut Grove. [Blog Ed. Note: To repeat the detour is for thru traffic so it drives you AROUND the town and you want to stop there so don’t take it. Also, note that the pageant and the dugout site are in opposite directions from town. The dugout is north and the pageant is south. I personally STRONGLY advise you to plan on parking your car and walking wherever you want to go, except to the pageant or the dugout site, because with the town population basically quadrupling during the event free parking spots near the action will be fairly non-existent during most of the day.]

6. WHERE IS THE AUTOGRAPHING TAKING PLACE?

Answer: The actors will be set up in the City Park, which is right in the center of town and across the street from the museum and museum store; those of you who have been there before know that this is where the large gazebo sits. Autographing sessions are the main event over the reunion weekend, happening most of the day on both Friday & Saturday, beginning around 10 am in the mornings and around 2 pm in the afternoons of both days. There will be a separate line for each of the actors, so expect to see fans running around, jumping into various lines. PLEASE BE NICE TO YOUR FELLOW FANS! Cutting in lines is frowned upon and is something that we will be keeping an eye on.

7. CAN WE TAKE A PICTURE WITH CAST MEMBER?

Answer: To have your picture taken with the actor whose line you are in, simply turn around IN FRONT of the table that they are sitting at. They will lean forward after signing your item for the picture opp. PLEASE HAVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER READY! I and various other staff members will be floating around to help with the photo taking; otherwise, ask the fan standing behind you or whoever might have come with you to help. Please help us keep the lines moving!

8. CAN WE TAKE A GROUP PHOTO WITH ALL OF THE CAST MEMBERS?

Answer: On Sunday, the cast will be set up in a room with a “Little House” theme in the Community Center and the fan(s) will be set up amongst them, there will be staff there to take the photo using your camera/cell phone. This photo opportunity will cost $10.

That’s it for now….feel free to feed me more questions as we get closer to this event. I will be updating periodically as needed!

UPDATED July 3 2019: The photo opportunity will be in the Community Center.

This is Sarah just adding this one from the interview you should add to above. There will be a lot of portapotties around, but flushable toilets not in restaurants are 1. Museum 2. Community Center 3. Gas Station across the street from the train tracks which last time everyone seemed to forget was there.

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Sarah Uthoff - Trundlebed Tales

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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