AirBnb in Walnut Grove and Other Lodging

If there is one thing that would make Walnut Grove a better place to visit, it would be for there to be a good place to spend the night in town. Traffic would be slow most of the year I think, but June, July, and August would be bursting at the seams. It would be good for the town also since spending a night in a place statistically increases the amount of money you spend there which helps keep businesses that support tourists going. Having a place to stay lined up as early as possible is a key to a successful Walnut Grove visit.

Sign and depot building at Laura IngallsWilder Museum in Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove Museum

Lodging Options

Most of the “Walnut Grove” lodging options take you out of town. Personally for many years I got to stay with Shirley Knackmuhs who ran a sort of free bed and breakfast for Laura people, but sadly those days are gone. See comments on where else I’ve stayed at the bottom.

(Personally I’ve often wished that some of the same laws that cover temporary hotels or camps in Europe were in effect here since from what I’ve seen on travel shows they have a lot more leeway for setting up temporary options. I could easily see “rooms” set up in a barn or even some of the public buildings in town if health/fire regulations easily allowed it — but as it they don’t.)

AirBnb

Walnut Grove as a community have recognized this need for lodging and have struggled with a way to meet it. A definite step in the right direction is the addition of two AirBnbs. The one that’s already listed on the museum’s lodging page is Half-Pint’s Hideway and allows you to rent an entire 3 bedroom house.

The second one which I think will soon be listed there is Little Room on the Prairie which is a double bed in a single bedroom.

There were several others listed in the surrounding area which I hadn’t known were available until I did a search for this post. So they would be another option.

Honestly I have issues with AirBnbs for economical and civics reasons I won’t dwell on here, but with them in Walnut Grove I’ll probably be swallowing my principles and staying in one sooner or later. I have to admit that in the specific situation of a town with a focused short run of tourism each year most of those reasons I have for objecting don’t really apply and for Laura towns this might actually be a great choice for the owners/hosts, the towns, and the tourists.

Personal Experiences

Within the last 5 years I’ve stayed at two hotels in the immediate area around Walnut Grove. The Wilder Inn, which had nice rooms even if they were small, but, since I’d grayed my hair, forced me to take a cold water shower. (I think it was a temporary problem because I haven’t heard that complaint from other people although staff were sparse on both information about what was happening and on concern that I didn’t have any hot water.) However, the speed in which you could get to and from Walnut Grove made the inconveniences worth it and on that account alone I recommend it highly if you can get a reservation. Understand what the Wilder Inn is though. It’s one of the second generation of motels (in between the stand alone tourist cabins my grandparents honeymooned in and the single level hotels with doors that opened right to your parking spot that were just starting to age out of my youth – if you want to see either they have a great display of them at the Henry Ford). It’s been upgraded several times since then, but that’s its bones so don’t expect more than it can give. I’d also recommend grabbing breakfast at the Subway across the street in Tracy if it’s a big attendance day in Walnut Grove and at Nellie’s in Walnut Grove if it isn’t.

I also stayed at the motel in Springfield, Minnesota which is 25 miles from Walnut Grove. While you could see it had been built as a nice hotel (for the size and area) it really hadn’t been kept up and is off the Walnut Grove lodging page. I liked the town though. I was sorry the hotel hadn’t been kept up. Since it’s no longer listed on the lodging page I mainly mention it because the distances are listed on the lodging page and Springfield was 25 miles away. I ended up wanting something I left back in the room and just one added trip seemed to take forever and that’s someone who’s always lived in the country so I’m used to driving. The closer you can get the better.

I have stayed in several of the hotels along I-90 when I was driving part way to Walnut Grove and staying over to get an early start in the morning, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that if you’re planning on coming back to Walnut Grove the next day OR if you’re planning on staying for the pageant.

Camping

I’m not really a camper, but if you have a tent and like to camp or an RV it means that you can get some of the closest places to stay in any of the Laura towns. So if that’s an option for you, seriously consider it for most Laura towns especially Walnut Grove, Minnesota and Burr Oak, Iowa where there really aren’t any/many other “in town” options.

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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Pepin Old Fashioned Photos

19th Century Photographer Display

One of the great new additions to Laura Ingalls Wilder Days this year was a period photographer. “New in the Traditional Crafts Area, Robert Taunt from La Crosse, will appear as an early photographer from Brady Photographic Studio. He will show original photos, old style cameras and talk about the early photographic process. If you would like to have a photo made, he can recreate the old time sepia images from the era of Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

Photographer in costume with large old-fashioned camera
Robert Taunt, Brady Studio Photographer

Taunt doesn’t use a real tintype camera, but he has a box set up with a modern camera inside. He has filters to make it look old-fashioned like a tintype. For the fee he included two prints, one in color and one in sephia.

Sarah in her 1890s dress in set up
Me in the set up

Prints were later delivered by mail and include all rights for reprint.

Sarah in Sephia close up

Make your plan now to visit next year and get your shot done.

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.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Events 2018

Photo in Wilder Farmhouse – Courtesy of Connie Jenkins

When you think Laura trip, normally think of summer trips. Planning driving trips around the Midwest during the winter isn’t a wise person’s first choice, but sometimes early December is still fine weather. Over the years several of the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites have had a Christmas event that first December weekend. Currently Mansfield, Missouri; Malone, New York; and Spring Valley, Minnesota, have Christmas Events.

Malone, NY

The most immersive Christmas event is the one at the Almanzo Wilder Farm in Malone, New York. This year Christmas with Almanzo! will be December 1, 2018 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. “For this event admission is free. Come and enjoy readings from Farmer Boy Christmas chapter in the parlor of the house at 11:30 and 1:00. (Adults must accompany and remain with child.) Enjoy cookies, mulled cider, Christmas carols, and children’s activities. Come visit our gift store for last minute shopping with complimentary gift wrapping for purchased items. Happy Christmas!”

Mansfield, MO

In comparison Mansfield’s Christmas event is much smaller. This year the event is December 1, 2018 from 6pm-8pm. Refreshment, shopping, and tours of Rocky Ridge are all part of the event. I haven’t had official confirmation for this year’s event, but in past years they’ve allowed photographs inside the living room decorated for Christmas and tours of the upstairs.

Spring Valley, MN

The Spring Valley Laura Ingalls Wilder museum doesn’t reopen for an event, but does do a special Christmas fundraiser. They hold a special Christmas tea. They used to do several, but they are down to one. Reservations are required. Although many Laura fans only look at the church museum, they have two additional buildings across the street. One of which is a lovely late 19th century house museum. Teas will be held on Dec. 1, 2018 at 12:30pm. Cost is $12 for the lunch. It is a full lunch set in a Victorian home that was built in 1888. Reservations required for the teas. Contact the museum at wilderinspringvalley@hotmail.com

Keystone, SD

Keystone stole a march on the other Laura homesites by having a Christmas in July event. I think this was especially clever (and frankly I wish some of the homesites would have a summer birthday for Laura like that) as I don’t know many people who’d drive across South Dakota in December for an event. I didn’t get to it, but it sounds like it was a great event – with special guest Dean Butler as Santa Claus. The director of Keystone resigned this fall and since she started the event no word on whether it will continue in 2019 or not.

Chicago, IL

This isn’t specifically a Christmas event, I hadn’t reported on it yet and its run crosses Christmas. It opened October 19, 2018 and will close January 13, 2019. “Laura Ingalls Wilder and Her Prairie” features rare books from the collection of the Chicago Botanical Garden focusing on the original prairie plant illustrations of Helen Sharpe based on  Marta McDowell’s book The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Find out more.

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.

Laura Ingalls Wilder 2018 Season Ends

Snow & Ice Covered Road
After It Got Light Trying To Get to Urbandale

October usually is about the end of the main Laura Ingalls Wilder season for the year. If you plan a Laura trip during or after October, make sure you call ahead. They may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see. On the plus side you get autumn foliage and then snow photos. I called around and checked websites to find out when the Laura museums were officially closing for the year. Find contact information for the homesites/museums here:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/laura-links/

The weather forecast is still calling for a cold and snowy winter once it does arrive so account for that possibility in your plans if you are planning a winter trip.

Pepin, WI – Closed for the season Oct. 28, 2018.

Independence, KS – September 1st, switch to reduced winter hours.  Winter hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10-5 pm starting in September till November 1st. They closed for the season on November 4, 2018.

Walnut Grove, MN – Museum grounds closed for the season October 31, 2018, but their Gift Shop/Visitor Center will remain open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00 and closed Sunday. Our museum buildings will reopen in April, weather permitting.

Burr Oak, IA – Closed October 20, 2018. Beginning in September they have reduced hours.

De Smet, SD –
Memorial Society – open all year with slightly reduced hours during winter, MondayFriday 9 am -4 pm. They suggest tour times at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Ingalls Homestead – Open depending on the weather through October and then closed at the end of October. Office remains open for making reservations, etc. Call and leave a message if they don’t pick up. Scheduled activities only take place through September 30th. People are welcome to walk around even after they are closed for the year. Look for maps in plastic holders beside visitor center/gift shop doors.

Mansfield, MO – Season ends November 15, 2018. Winter hours are November 16 – December 15 by appointment only (call ahead). Bookstore 10 am -2 pm. They will reopen December 1st for a Christmas event.

Malone, NY – Closed October 27, 2018. Can arrange tours by appointment if volunteers available . Minimum admission is $25 for three or less. Four or more admitted at regular price. Arrange by e-mailing farm@almanzowilderfarm.com Re-opens for Christmas With Almanzo event (1 Day) December 1, 2018.

Spring Valley, MN – They closed for the season at the end of October, but they reopen for one day for a Christmas tea. Reservations required.

Keystone, SD – Closed September 15, 2018.

Vinton, IA –  Closed

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.

 

T-Shirt of the Month November 2018

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 monthly series where we look at a Laura shirt.

Shirt of the Month

Here’s this month’s shirt:

Brown shirt tied with twine
Wrapped Shirt from Loftus Store

The Loftus Store always has interesting shirts. Some of my favorites I’ve shared come from there like my tie dyed oh my gosh it’s hot shirt and my silhouette t-shirt. This one comes so cute tied up with twine.

Brown shirt with golden stitching
Embroidered Little Town shirt

I was very glad to get it because it’s the chocolate color I love. I like tan and brown shirts for Laura travel. They are hard to find.

Tan Embroidery of Various Colors
Embroidered Little Town on the Prairie

I especially like that instead of being printed like most shirts, it’s sewn. You can see the stitching a little better at an angle.

Angle Shot of Embroidery
Angle Shot of Embroidery

I think this is the perfect shirt for a fall Laura trip.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder autI think hority 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.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Plays 2018

Photo in Wilder Farmhouse – Courtesy of Connie Jenkins

Christmas Plays and Laura – An Annual Tradition

It’s time to get in the mood for the holidays and for many families attending a Laura Ingalls Wilder play. There are four 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
  • A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek by Lisa Cordes

I’ve only found productions of the first two works this year, but I’ve included information for all four in case you want to encourage a local theater group to put one on for next year. Remind them there are only SO many versions of A Christmas Carol they can do and one of these might make a fun change.

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas by Laurie Brooks

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

Here’s a clip from a production in 2012.

Columbia, TN

Nov. 16-17, 2018

Basic Information:
https://www.buildingblockarts.com/upcoming-events/xp36zzdffrx9mg4skkkc37tkyn8f8b

Building Block School for the Arts
Location: 700 Woodland Street
Columbia, TN 38401
E-mail: buildingblockarts@gmail.com

Phone: (931) 442-5007

Greenwood, SC

Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15, 2018

Basic Information:
https://www.theabbevilleoperahouse.com/Show/Details/54

Abbeville Opera House
Location: 100 Court Square Abbeville, SC 29620
Email: operahouse@wctel.net
Phone: (864) 366-2157

“A Little House Christmas”

Check with the author for production rightsLearn more about him.

Shots from a production.

Eau Claire, WI

Dec. 7-8, 14-16, 2018

Basic Information:
https://ecct.org/upcoming-shows/a-little-house-christmas
ECCT

Location: 1814 Oxford Avenue, Eau Claire, WI, 54701,

E-mail: info@ecct.org
Phone: (715) 839-8877

Lincoln, NE

December 7-9, 2018

Basic Information:
https://www.lincoln.org/play/event/144961-a-little-house-christmas

Lincoln Community Playhouse
Location: 2500 S 56th Street
Ticket Price: TBA
Time: TBA
Phone: (402) 489-7529

“Melodies and Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Check out this clip from a 2009 production. No current productions found this year. Find out more if you want to put it on.

“A Little House Christmas at Plum Creek”

No current productions this year.

Here’s a story about it’s release.

UPDATED November 12 2018: Of course as soon as I published it I got a lead on another show. This one isn’t for Christmas, but I wanted to add it. Thanks to Judy Green for sharing about it.

“Patchwork – the Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder”

I hadn’t heard about this show before, but it looks like it was around since at least 2010, is aimed at an elementary school audience, and doesn’t seem to have had many performances – at least that hit the internet. It isn’t a Christmas show, but since there is a production coming in February I’m including it.

Toledo, OH

February 17, 2019

Basic Information:
https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/6606386/patchworkthe-little-house-life-of-laura-ingalls-wilder-toledo-valentine-theatre

Valentine Theatre
Location: 410 Adams St.
Toledo, OH 43604
E-mail: jjex@valentinetheatre.com (executive director)
Phone: (419) 242-3490

Sarah S. Uthoff 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.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 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.

Cast Reunion 2019 Pageant Tickets Are Now Available

Cast on Stage Courtesy of Linda Starbuck
Cast on Stage
Courtesy of Linda Starbuck

Wilder Pageant Tickets are on sale now! Shows are July 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20, 2019. Tickets are $20 for Reserved Seating and $18 for General Admission on July 5, 6, 19, and 20. The Little House on the Prairie Cast Reunion is July 12 and 13. Tickets for those nights are $35 for Reserved Seats and $33 for General Admission. You can purchase tickets by going online at http://walnutgrove.org/ticket-information.html or by calling (888) 859-3102.

The signing will take place during the day in town, but in the evening on Friday and Saturday nights there will be a question and answer session at the pageant. The pageant is a classic play put together to tell the story of Laura’s family during their time in Walnut Grove. In place of the normal pre-show they bring the whole cast on stage and take questions from the audience. These tickets are for the play and question and answer session out at the pageant grounds.

The pageant itself is well worth the ticket. So is getting the reserved seats so you can sit in the folding chairs. I suggest the red section if you can get them because they are in the middle right in front of the stage. If they put the questions on the house set again the green section is right in front of it. I need to update my travel advice post, but it still is useful.

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.