Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Plays 2016

It’s time to get in the mood for the holidays and for many families attending a Laura Ingalls Wilder play. There are three titles that are currently running on the circuit.

  • A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks
  • A Little House Christmas by James DeVita
  • Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hoover 2010 Me and Bonnet Tree

There are only so many ways to do A Christmas Carol, let your local community or small professional theater that you’d like to see them do one of these next year! And if I’ve missed one in your neck of the woods let me know so I can add it.

Christmas Plays and Laura – An Annual Tradition

There are a few events going on, including Christmas shows, I’m listing the entire season’s worth below so you can make plans if one is in your regional area:

“A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas”

If you want your local group to try it next year, check out the script and production rights. Learn the basics.

Check out a clip from a production in 2012.

Milwaukee, WI – Acacia Theatre Company’s “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas.” Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for seniors, full-time students and full-time clergy.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.acaciatheatre.com/show/a-laura-ingalls-wilder-christmas
November 11 through November 20, 2016
Concordia University, Todd Wehr Auditorium, 12800 North Lake Shore Drive, Mequon, WI
Review

Catch an interview about it. Real life family plays the Ingalls Family.

St. Croix Falls, WI – From the Festival Theatre’s professional acting troupe.  Read a little more about the show.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
https://festivaltheatre.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0SF0000005YCTKMA4
November 26-December 24, 2016
Franklin Square Black Box, 125 N. Washington Street, St. Croix Falls, WI, 54024

Prattville, AL – Presented by Way Off Broadway Theater.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.prattvilleal.gov/departments/ticket-information.html
Thursdays through Sundays, between December 8 -December 18, 2016.
Cultural Arts Center, 203 4th St, Prattville AL 36067

Walhalla, SC – Presented by Walhalla Civic Auditorium.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.walhallacivic.com/events.html#p7AP3c1_4
December 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18, 2016
Walhalla Civic Auditorium, 101 E.N. Broad Street, Walhalla, SC 29691

“A Little House Christmas”

Shots from a production.

Sierra Madre, CA – Adapted by James DeVita.
http://sierramadreplayhouse.org/smp-presents-little-house-christmas-november-18-december-23/
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
Purchase tickets
November 25-27, December 2-4, 9-11, 15-18, and 21-23, 2016
Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA 91024

Bozeman, MT – Presented by the Verge Theater
http://vergetheater.com/shows/family-stage
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
Purchase Tickets
Saturdays Nov. 26th-Dec. 17th, 2016
Verge Theater, 2304 N 7th Ave C1, Bozeman, MT 59715

Menomonie, WI – Presented by the Menomonie Theater Guild
http://volumeone.org/events/2016/12/02/216111_menomonie_theater_guild_presents_a_little_house
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
Purchase Tickets
December 2-4 and 9-11, 2016
Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts205 Main St. E, Menomonie, WI 54751

“A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek”

Grand Rapids, MI – Adapted for the Stage by Lisa Cordes.
Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://www.experiencegr.com/event/little-house-christmas-at-plum-creek/45855/
November 17, 2016 – December 10, 2016
Recurring weekly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Master Arts Theatre, 75  77th St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49548

“Melodies and Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Check out this clip from a 2009 production.

Auburn, CA – From a non-profit theater group. Catch a short news story.

Basic Information (dates, ticket prices, etc.):
http://takenotetroupe.org/musicals
Nov 11th & 18th – 7:30 p.m. Nov 12th & 19th – 4:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603

 

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.

August 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

August is a quieter month than July, but there are still plenty of events to choose from.

Times 2016

Keystone SD – Longtime Home of Carrie Ingalls Swanzey

Keystone Area Historical Association always hosts an event on August 3rd, Carrie’s actual birthday no matter what day of the week it falls on.

Old World Wisconsin – Eagle WI

World of Little House – July 16 – August 7, 2016 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/calendar/event/4466/the-world-of-little-house

Genesee Country Village and Museum – Mumford, NY

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days  August 6-7, 2016 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Vinton IA

Mary Ingalls Society Pageant – August 5, 6, and 7 2016. The 7th will be a Sunday Maintee.

Malone/Burke NY

Find more on events.

Cultural Festival-Irish Fenian Festival – Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10 am-4 pm

  • Celebrating the Irish heritage of the area in the mid-19th century with food, music, demonstrations, and more, Fenian Raid reenactments. More details to follow.

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.

T-Shirt of the Month April 2016

Clothes are one of those things that I once kept as a firm line not to cross as part of my efforts to restrict my Laura collection to a reasonable size. That totally failed when I discovered how great it is to have a Laura t-shirt on when traveling. It really makes it feel like your trip has already started once you get in your car.

Little House on the Prairie the Musical
Little House on the Prairie the Musical

Black t-shirts often have gorgeous designs, but have the drawback of being hot in the heat of the noonday sun. This is a great example of that. In conjunction with Little House on the Prairie: The Musical, they had two gift shops at the Guthrie and then a traveling giftshop that traveled with the roadshow. I got it and a bunch of other stuff including a great book about the set design and some “I ♥ Almanzo” pins.

This full cover design is one of the prettiest I have even if it isn’t the most practical for a Midwestern summer. The design is their logo with the words in a mock cross-stitch type pattern.  Sadly as far as I can tell after that giftshop held a closeout sale a couple of months after the roadshow ended that was that, so you’d have to find it on Ebay or elsewhere online if you want one.

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.

25th Anniversary of Laura’s Memories

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Ozark Mountain Players production of Laura’s Memories. Their Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant differs in quite a few ways from the other pageants. Mansfield Pageant

  • While they hold auditions for the pageant each year it’s put on by a repertory company that sometimes does other shows and didn’t actually begin with the pageant.
  • It’s a musical. Not only is it a musical, it’s a great musical. One that I can still sing snatches of songs from even though it’s been at least 10 years since I attended.
  • Said great music is available as a soundtrack through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield. Find it in their online store.
  • Rather than have people memorize so much, the cast switches roles as the play progresses.
  • They have the BEST seats of any pageant. Honestly the older I get the more I appreciate back support.
  • Unlike De Smet, Walnut Grove, and Vinton they show Laura’s entire life instead of concentrating on a certain portion of it.
  • They have a longer and more spread out run with some dates in mid-summer and another block this fall with far more performances than any of the others.

In short it’s definitely earned its 25 year run and I really think you should go.

Earlier I did posts on pageant travel advice with details on how to attend Laura’s Memories and a link to a Ozark Public Television program on it, complete with notes to help you find different parts.

I hope you’ll make an effort to try to go see the pageant next year. I’m going to give up on Wilder Days this next year and see if I can make it for one of the earlier performances.

Learn more about Laura’s Memories and find links to other articles/videos.

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.

History of Little House on the Prairie the Musical

One of the top ten posts is one simply called Musical Launched. I’m figuring that a lot of people hit that not looking for the specific musical I’m talking about, but as it’s entirely talking about news then current I wasn’t sure what I could even do to update it, so I decided to write a completely new post about the history of the musical as I know it instead and I’ll add a link on the Top 10 post.

Little House on the Prairie the Musical T-Shirt
Little House on the Prairie the Musical T-Shirt

Failed Attempt

The idea of Little House musical was not a new one. Laura’s Memories (aka the Mansfield pageant) has been a musical from the very beginning (and with a lot more have to sing along numbers than the show that came out of the Guthrie in my opinion). In addition the New York Times reported in its June 9, 1989 issue that musical based on the “Little House” books called Prairie would be heading to Broadway the following year. (It didn’t, but apparently did get as far as a complete draft of the book and a slate of musical numbers).

Started at the Guthrie

I first posted about this new musical the Guthrie was putting together when I saw the press release. My first post about it was dated November 16, 2007. The Guthrie in Minneapolis, Minnesota,  is considered a regional theater, but is an important one nationally. Many national level actors and actors come to do a run here. They put together this production and did an initial run. It was a big hit. It wasn’t in their largest theater (they have multiple theater spaces in one big building), but it was the medium size one and the initial run was extended by several weeks due to strong ticket sales.

Check out this post for a taste of what it was like to attend a show at the Guthrie:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/guthrie-logistic-tips/

Check out the photos from Playbill from the Guthrie production:
http://www.playbill.com/news/article/print/119925.html

Read my review here:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/little-house-the-musical/

I had also written a more formal review that I debated whether needed published too or not. I finally decided to go ahead and post it some time later when I found it languishing in my drafts after my road show experience.
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/guthrie-version-review/

Starring Melissa Gilbert

The biggest news item was when it was announced that Melissa Gilbert had agreed to join the production as Ma. Gilbert has spent a lot of time distancing herself from the Laura role, her new adult persona most strongly symbolized by her term as president of SAG, the actor union. However, she agreed to return to the “franchise” this time taking on the role of Ma. Part of this was the challenge of the role, Gilbert hadn’t ever done musical theater. The part was adjusted for her vocal range and dance ability, but you can’t say she didn’t give it her all, shortly after the national tour completed she had to have serious back surgery because her back was broken by her on stage exertions.

Early publicity about Gilbert joining the show:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/melissa-gilbert-to-play-ma

Gilbert quoted “Every girl has a Laura in them”:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/a-little-laura-in-all-of-us/

Revamp

The show didn’t go directly into the road show. There was a gap of months before we found out there was even going to be one which is part of what I was reporting on in the post that was in the top 10. Slowly towns were added from Connecticut to Canada with many spots in between including the one I saw it at in Sioux Falls. Changes were made and some of the cast members, who either were unwilling to travel with a road production or had other commitments, were swapped out.

This NPR news story falls after the Guthrie run finished, but before the road show. It also includes snippets of various songs from the show.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93644080

Cast Visits Homesites

Since the initial production was so close to the Laura homesites in the Twin Cities, it inspired several cast members to make the trip. Most of the major cast made a trip separately or in small groups to visit the northern homesites. Actors said that it helped them understand the material to get a feel for the land. Finally during the road show the entire cast was brought up to De Smet.

The entire cast was bused up to De Smet to have a press conference at the Ingalls Homestead in June 2010. Find links to it in this post – the bottom one has video:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/press-conference-in-de-smet/

Musical Hits the Road

They also tightened up the production which often happens over the course of the production. They really didn’t address any of the problems I pointed out in my review, but it was a better show when I saw it in Sioux Falls. The show had ended in Fall 2008, reports of the national tour being a go and slowly the places it would stop came through February 2009, and the national tour started October 2009 and ran through early summer 2010.

Dates slowly trickled in. As I reported in this post, they had just made a booking for Canada making the road show an international one. The article link still worked from February 2009:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/musical-goes-international/

Report on attending the road show version in Sioux Falls, South Dakota:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/on-the-way-to-the-roadshow/

Sell Out of Merchandise

A couple of months after the final booking, no more news came and then there was a sale to clean out the merchandise. Apparently the company that had traveled around with them selling souvenirs believed it was over. That was the final word we’ve heard.

Next Step

So my family has a streak of theater in it, in fact my father actually teaches theater lighting, so while I can’t exactly follow the theater scene from Iowa as well as I could from New York or even Chicago, I do follow it. A show at this point, with a fairly successful one year run under its belt, normally has one of three things happen next. Will it:

  • Re-launch road show for a further run?
  • Move to Broadway?
  • Release scripts for purchase for local productions?

But none of these things has actually happened. The fact that they haven’t released the scripts yet, which could be making them money, sounds like they are hoping some sort of re-launch of either the road show or a Broadway or off-Broadway production. But I haven’t heard a further peep.

Their website frontpage is still up, but it won’t let you in. It does play a medley of the songs:
http://www.littlehousethemusical.com

You can get to the archived version of the website here. It includes interviews with some of the people involved, their blog, etc.

Sarah S. Uthoff is 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.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

April 2013 Roundup

Sarah in Brandon, Iowa
Sarah in Brandon, Iowa

When everything goes well, during a given month I do set schedule of podcasts (things don’t always go well so this might not be true in any given month). I do a 15 minute roundup of Laura Ingalls Wilder events for fandom near the beginning of the month. Then I do a 30 minute program which is me talking about something Laura related. Then another 30 minute travel time episode where I normally interview someone about a destination or an unusual hobby. Finally I do a 60 minute interview about someone that is related to Laura.

I haven’t done very well on the updates the last few month, manly because so far this year, I’ve had trouble nailing people down for interview dates far enough ahead to include them in the roundout and then I wait and then I decide it’s too close to the end of the month and it doesn’t get done. But enough of that as Laura season gets in full swing, I hope to get back on schedule and to start that off, here is the latest roundup episode for April 2013:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2013/04/13/april-2013-update

Since the last one of these I actually completed was back in December in addition to a run down on the always active month of April we also hit the highlights of Laura events for Jan.-March. Enjoy!

De Smet Pageant 2012 And Beyond

This year I finished up my LauraPalooza trip with a brief stop in De Smet, South Dakota. Any stay in De Smet is too brief in my opinion (in fact I’ve

Hay Barn at Ingalls Homestead

started a new game with my mother when she starts to complain about something, I ask her “You know where that doesn’t happen?” and she actually guessed I was going to say De Smet the very first time I did it). This really was a flying visit just over 24 hours. I breezed into town (to use a good Rose phrase from Faces at the Window) and was just barely late for my meeting with a camera crew (watch this space for more on that) and after they were finished with me ended up spending a good chunk of time at the Ingalls Homestead catching up with many old friends both on the Homestead

Horse Drawn Wagons at Ingalls Homestead

staff and LauraPalooza people coming through. After the conference, it was nice to be able to just sit and enjoy the prairie winds and the clip clop clip clop of the horses hooves.

After getting checked in at the hotel and hitting Subway for supper (I really wanted Dairy Queen, but there was a super long line I didn’t want to spend time waiting in, so I settled for Subway sandwich and the best iced tea in De Smet). Then I retreated to my motel room and I worked some more on the paper that was due that night that I thought I’d have finished before this (I did get it sent in before the Midnight deadline – got an A-) and then headed out to the pageant grounds.

As I mentioned in my post about the Walnut Grove pageant this year, I’ve long advised people if they were doing one pageant Walnut Grove-De Smet pageant, to do the other one too. They are such different experiences and so close geographically that once you’ve made the investment to get to one, it’s just sort of silly not to go that little extra to do both.

Old Laura Narrates

If you’re planning on going to the De Smet pageant (Walnut Grove and De Smet coordinate pageants the first three weekends in July, but Walnut Grove no longer does a Sunday performance), I’d recommend that you start planning now. This is primarily due to Walnut Grove where early reservations are the key for both hotel stays (there aren’t any motels or even bed and breakfasts in Walnut Grove proper so getting a reservation close by requires early action) and seats at the pageant. In De Smet itself early reservations are not that important. There are two hotels and an assortment of bed

Interpretive Dancers Represent the Blizzards
Interpretive Dancers Represent the Blizzards

and breakfasts both in town and close by, I have still known the town to be fully booked, but usually even a week or two notice will get you a room somewhere, guaranteeing you get a room at the particular place you want might require earlier action, particularly if you want to stay at one of the bed and breakfasts. There is no reserved seating for the pageant. Instead cement blocks and boards form benches. I strongly recommend bringing along lawn chairs and you are invited to set them up in the large gaps between the rows of benches so you can get good seats right down front with them. Before the pageant visit the What-Not Gift Shop which always has some unusual souvenirs (the pin I have that was replica of the one Almanzo gave Laura for Christmas one year was purchased there), snag a wagon ride with your ticket that they give you at the gate

Rear of Third Street House
Rear of Third Street House

( I’ve done it as a adult, but it’s really set up for children physically, I’d leave it to them and give  a kid your ticket for an extra ride), check out the incredible collection of antique farm equipment (back near the gate), get your photo taken at the photo board (thank you pageant people for changing the angle of the board, the last 2 times it’s been against the sunset and impossible to get a good photo there, this time they turned it so the sun wasn’t a problem), and be sure to get a bag of popcorn at the concession stand (this year they also added Long Winter snow cones which were just inspired).

This year was a different experience for a couple of reasons. The weather this year left the pageant grounds almost bug free, a remarkable accomplishment with the Big Slough right there and probably mainly due to the earlier start time and

Audience Volunteers Participate in Pageant
Audience Volunteers Participate in Pageant

the extremely dry weather this year. It was also the warmest I’ve ever been at a pageant. I changed into sweat pants like normal and took along my sweatshirt and blanket, but I really didn’t need them. Instead of getting chilled I was actually hot throughout the performance which was definitely a new experience. It was also strange because with the new earlier start time and the relatively short length, the sun hadn’t finished setting when the show ended. This was definitely a different experience because normally I love to sit there and look up and see the stars. I missed that. I could see how it would be easier on people with little kids, but I wish it could have gone at least a little longer (split the difference at the half hour?). Unlike Walnut Grove that uses the darkness as a definite part of its special effects pallet, the darkness isn’t nearly as important to De Smet, but I think it does add something to the sense of intimacy and eavesdropping on the Ingalls Family which I’ve always felt was truly the hallmark of the De Smet pageant and I can’t help but wish it went at least a little while after dark.

For those of you that haven’t heard the pageant this time was The Long Winter. So good gripping stuff right there. They have announced that where previously if they liked a script they might keep it the same for 2 or even 3 years, now they are going to regularly flip through the books (a different one each year in order, skipping The First Four Years which didn’t do very well as a pageant) in hopes of making it easier for families to plan to come and see them all. Certainly a worthy ambition and one I hope will bring increased attendance. I’m also pleased to report that their collaboration with theater professionals is definitely continuing to show for the better. I’d say it was a better overall performance than the last time I saw The Long Winter. Performances were good, the pace and plot were good. There wasn’t much gratuitously stuck in and nothing that stood out like a soar thumb (in one year’s show “Laura” wore short sleeves and a scooped neck all the way through the winter). This was the show they started the pageant with (based on the Hallmark radio show script) and I have postcards from the 1970s with them pulling similar props out of a similar barrel, so they are very familiar with this story.

Although I question the need to have an old Laura be the narrator in every pageant (which seems to have developed in the last few years) and

Surveyor's House
Surveyor’s House

would hope if they were going to put her in they would flesh it out a little bit – was I the only one wanting an older Almanzo to show up and pester her and for her to be a little bit more of a character and not just a voice if she is going to be there?  – I have to say she was the most effective I’ve seen yet in a De Smet production. For one thing they anchored old Laura in one place (the loft above Pa’s Store building) and kept her there. When her voice started we always knew where to look (instead of having to look all over the large set to figure out where she had popped up this time) and she was clearly remembering and writing the story which was a big plus over when she is just doing random things like dragging out a needlework  project and showing up at seemingly random at different points on stage.  This time old Laura was anchored by a purpose and a physical location which both helped the flow of the production.

The thing that probably sticks out the most in this production was the representation of the blizzard snows by dancers in white dresses who danced in dropped scarves to represent the drifts and left. It’s been a couple of months since July and I still haven’t decided if I liked them or not yet. It was definitely a physical representation that would be hard to do any other way. I definitely did like that when the spring came they danced back out and picked them up again. It made a nice cycle, but it was so different than the rest of the production, kind of like if the ballet dream sequence in Oklahoma, but instead of one big bit of different, it was broken up into parts and scattered throughout the show, that I just can’t make up my mind whether it was truly a help or hurt the suspended disbelief. Likewise the Christmas songs at the beginning to try to set the mood for winter were a nice idea, but I think it would have been better to include the words to 1 or 2 and do a general sing along rather than pull people out of the audience and I think I’d pick songs more on the snow angle, rather than on the religious side. Another thing I really liked was that they pulled kids out of the audience for one scene where they had school. Outfitted with sunbonnets and straw hats they weren’t nearly as completely costumed as the rest of the cast, but I loved the involvement. I’m sure it was something that the kids themselves will never forget and everyone loved the scene, plus it made for a realistic sized crowd without having to have that many more kids make and keep a months long commitment. It was a great idea, well executed.

I’ve seen big improvements over all in the pageant and I’m excited to see what they do next. It’s hard to remember how recently it was that the cast mimed to a audio recording and the cast and crew get better and better each year.

After the pageant I returned to my room, electronically turned in the paper, and turned in for a good night’s sleep. I make it a point to not burn daylight by staying in my hotel room when in a Laura homesite town and while I wasn’t up quite with the birds this time, I still was up early enough to run an errand before meeting Connie over at the Prairie Manor for breakfast. Thanks Jenny for the happiest breakfast in the world. a pancake man. After a lovely time there visiting, I went over to the Memorial Society. Everyone I talked to pointed out the Memorial Society had made changes in the program and I wanted to check them out for myself.

The Memorial Society has actually made quite a few changes in the last few years, some I’m really glad about (I think the yearly display of artifacts is great and while I’d rather actually go upstairs in the Surveyors House, the mirror is actually a pretty clever logistic compromise, and I’m glad to see a lot more use of documents in their displays and signage which are very interesting and rarely seen elsewhere) and some I’m not so glad about (ripping out a really well done and period appropriate one-room school restoration for an OK hands on discovery center, getting rid of furniture actually owned and used by Rose in favor of blank periodish generic bedrooms in the upstairs of the Third Street house).  The major change this time is throughout the route of the tour they have added in hands on stations, these are similar things to the hands on activities that were situation around town last year for their pageant 40th anniversary event. It extends the length of the tour, but I think it’s definitely worth it, especially for making it meaningful for the kids. Adults were encouraged to try the hands on stations too. It wasn’t as a completely different experience as some of the people I talked to led me to believe, these were more add ons rather than a different overall tact or style of tour, but I think the responses I heard reflect how much of a tactile experience even adult Laura fans want and how much being repressed into not touching anything really bothers them. The changes have made a big, positive impression on many fans. If you’ve visited this year, I’d like to hear your impressions of the changes.

After the Memorial Society tour and spending some more time with the temporary exhibit, I headed over to the Loftus Store which always has something new and different and I got my favorite new T-shirt of the trip there (which is actually usual several of my all time favorite shirts are from the Loftus Store). One more stop at the De Smet News and I paid up my yearly subscription (I love having real business in town, it makes me feel much more a part of it rather than a visitor). Then one more swing by the Subway for another to go glass of the best iced tea in De Smet and I was on my way home with one last stop at the ponds outside of town which Connie had pointed out to me were heavily filled with muskrat houses this year. They really were and I’m pleased with the photos I got, look for them when I get my Laura breeds and species program put together.