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.



Walnut Grove De Smet Trip 2011

Sarah Close up2011 was the 40th Anniversary of the De Smet Pageant. I was the speaker for one of their weekends and it was a great trip, except for the fact my still camera didn’t work. I never got a post about it put together so here is my trip through podcasts and videos. The photo on the left is one of the few I got on the trip.

40th Anniversary

This was the 40th of pageant back in 2011 and I interviewed pageant board member Ann Sullivan on the upcoming event. This is everything they planned for the big anniversary.

The coolest thing from the interview, the pageant was originally given on the actual Ingalls Homestead preforming roughly where Ma’s house is now with seating in front and on up on hill.

It was a year of floods in De Smet. That made it a great year to get photos and we talk a lot about it.

Apologies about sound quality of the podcast above. I drop out for a couple of minutes near the beginning and for some reason my sound level is very uneven and I blast a couple of times.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society , P.O. Box 154, De Smet SD 57231
1-800-880-3383 or 1-800-776-3594

Day 1

In this first episode, I travel to De Smet. I went straight on I-90 which I recommend if you have to make time or if you’re traveling with non-Laura fans. You get a good example of the kind of wind you get in South Dakota. I mention a government shut down which I’m sure most of you have forgotten where the state of Minnesota, not the federal government shut down after failing to make a budget deal.

My first De Smet stop is the Cottonwood Memorial site. I reference the video I made giving more details about it in 2009. Watch it now. One of my goals for this video diary was to get better at letting people already not in the know a better idea where I was in relation to other places. So I show the signposts on the corner by the Memorial, Homestead Road (which runs up to the Ingalls Homestead gate) and 280th (which runs between the Ingalls Homestead and the pageant grounds).

My next stop was Laura and Almanzo’s house in De Smet where they prepped to go to Mansfield right before On the Way Home. In the material Rose added she wrongly referred to it as a rented house when actually they bought it. It’s located on the corner of Loftus and 4th.

Day 2

Good morning in hotel room and I mention I had done a podcast about what’s going on in De Smet. Next stop is the Laura Ingalls Wilder elementary school which is up Ingalls Avenue in the opposite direction from the cemetery. I do a quick exterior of the Loftus store and then I went on the cemetery tour which for some reason I don’t have any footage of. Then I headed out to the Ingalls Homestead where I presented Packing Up and in between shows I walked the Homestead. I presented at the Bethany Church at 1 pm and 4 pm. I misspoke while I walked around the prairie. I was pointing at 280th Street, not 208th.

That evening I attended the pageant and explore the pageant grounds. We take a look at all the buildings. The bathrooms are painted with murals on three sides done by Irene Colling in 1991.

Day 3

Another podcast describing what’s going on. First we head out to Silver Lake which being a rainy year, was filled to the gills, making for some great footage. Then we headed out to the Ingalls Homestead and since I was there as a tourist, I took a little more time to look around. We go see them twist hay and ride on a horse drawn wagon. The end of the wagon ride is the one-room school that offers an immersive experience where you can play a school child from the late 19th century.

I didn’t get part of the afternoon filmed and then I returned to the pageant that night to watch it back to back.

Day 4

Sadly last day and last roving report podcast. Next I quickly visited the Memorial Society grounds and then the Third Street house. I visited the Loftus Store and the Kingsbury County Courthouse. Finally one more quick visit to the Ingalls Homestead where I also got some footage for my non-Laura fan video that I haven’t gotten edited together yet and then I was off for home.

One more quick stop found me in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. I give a quick once over to the gift shop and the museum.

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 Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Events July 2013

July tends to be the busiest month for Laura Ingalls Wilder events. I hope that I’ve gotten them all.

Audience Volunteers Participate in Pageant
Audience Volunteers Participate in Pageant

Old World Wisconsin – Eagle, WI – Special Laura Ingalls Wilder Activities All Month

Almanzo Wilder Farm – Malone/Burke, NY – July 6, 2013  Children’s Gala and Independence Day Celebration
Children’s activities, artwork on display in the museum. 10:00 AM -4:00 PM Self guided tours. Reduced Admission: Adults $5.00, children 6-16 $3.00, 5 and under free; Bring a picnic lunch! Food and beverages will be available.

Laura’s Memories Pageant – Mansfield, MO – July 5-6, 2013 (One weekend only in July, other dates will continue in August and September)
The evening shows are on 7:30 PM both days and the morning performance on the 6th only at 10:30 AM.

Note: The De Smet, South Dakota and Walnut Grove, Minnesota Pageants are normally on the same weekends to facilitate you attending both.  However, it looks like they got thrown off this year. Also, note that De Smet still does Sunday shows and Walnut Grove doesn’t.

Walnut Grove Pageant, Walnut Grove, MN – July 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 2013
The pageant starts at 9:00 PM.  Check the special events schedule separately. (Pageant) (Special Events)

De Smet Pageant – De Smet, SD –  July 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 2013
Little Town on the Prairie is the selection for this year the pageant starts at 8:00 PM with the gates opening at 6:00 PM.

Little House on the Prairie Museum – Independence, KS – Special Living History Appearences
-Schoolhouse Days with Mrs. Little- July 13th 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
-Meet Caroline Ingalls- July 27th 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

UPDATE: Mary Ingalls Tours, Iowa School for the Blind – Vinton, IA – July 16, 2013
Contact the school and ask for Pat Barr for more information

UPDATE: Franklin County Fair – Malone, NY – July 17-21, 2013

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days – Heritage Hill – Green Bay, WI – July 26-27, 2013
Event at a historic park, but focuses on guests this year Alison Arngrim (TV’s Nellie Oleson)  and Dean Butler (TV’s Almanzo Wilder), 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Laura Ingalls Wilder on Dakota Life

At De Smet Pageant 2009
At De Smet Pageant 2009

You might have heard me mention something about having to get to De Smet after LauraPalooza this last year. This news story and a second that I think they’ve delayed on Pioneer Girl are why. Dakota Life is a TV magazine on South Dakota Public Television. Larry Rohrer is the host. You can watch it now at the link below.

They also have a Dakota Life playlist on the South Dakota Public Television YouTube channel, but so far this isn’t there.

(The photo on the left is from a previous trip where several of the LIWLRA board members met up there and as you can see we had a picnic while waiting for the show to start.I’m afraid it’s about the only shot of myself at the pageant.)

There is an unrelated story first up on the episode (a church is delivering charity parcels to Haiti in person), so let it play or skip ahead to 13:00. Jumping ahead works best if you let it play through first, so minimize and mute and then go back. I had trouble getting it to start playing again when I tried to start with the jump without letting it load and play through first, but maybe you’ll have better luck.

It starts playing on a small screen within a screen, but the icon in the lower right hand corner of the playback video (a solid square with a broken outline square around it) takes it full screen. It flips to saying “Full Screen” if you hover the cursor over the right thing. I’ve included time cues to things you might want to find again.

13:42 Opens up on shot of Ingalls Homestead and the West Bethany Church

13:50 Marion Cramer interview starts, followed by more Ingalls Homestead footage

14:30 Joan Sullivan as Ma Ingalls at Ma’s House on Ingalls Homestead

14:35 De Smet Pageant

14:40 Sarah Uthoff shout out with footage of me watching the De Smet Pageant, Followed by part of my interview

15:30 Me walking on the Ingalls Homestead doing my best Julie Andrews impression

16:00 De Smet Cemetery and back to De Smet Pageant

16:20 Catherine Tritle, Pageant Board Member. The De Smet pageant is moving to rotating through the books in order, one per year, where before they sometimes would keep a title a couple of years in a row.

16:40 Jay Vanduch, Pageant Director and behind the scenes prep stuff

19:00 Larry Somsen, De Smet Pageant Volunteer (today he works the sound system)

19:20 Marion Cramer again

20:20 A little more Marion Cramer

Ends 21:00

Update: Not a lot to update here. The video is still available and I still think it’s a really good story. This is one of my top 20 most viewed posts that I’m re-sharing. It doesn’t look like they’re updating the Dakota Life playlist on YouTube anymore. I don’t see any stories from it uploaded to the channel since before early 2012. Also, they haven’t yet played the second story about Pioneer Girl, but I guess they will play a version of it when or IF Pioneer Girl is released.

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 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.

De Smet Pageant Gets New Director

The De Smet Pageant announced in the Feb. 8, 2012 issue of The De Smet News that they’ve hired a new director. Jay Vanduch has a strong background in television. He currently  is a producer of the TV series  “On Call” and has experience with public broadcasting in both South Dakota and Wisconsin. He also has been involved with the community theater in Brookings, South Dakota. Vanduch replaces Orval VanDeest who helped bring a more professional theater tone to the pageant and helped involve several internships and other projects.They’ve announced this year’s pageant will be The Long Winter.

Find out more about the pageant here:

Programs in De Smet SD

Sarah By Surveyor's House Sign

I’m going to be doing two programs as part of the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the De Smet Pageant. I’m going to be doing a modified version of Packing Up: the Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Bethany Church on the grounds of the Ingalls Homestead followed by a question period. I’ll be doing them on Saturday, July 23rd at 1 PM and 4 PM I hope I can see you then.

Pageant Perambulations: Prairie Time Machine

Once again, I wanted to share the word from the De Smet Pageant by Orval Van Deest – Director and Marian Cramer – Assistant to the Director.

Say the “secret word” and win the prize!

Some readers may remember that old TV game. For our 2010 pageant goers, the secret word is “verisimilitude!” So pageant-goer , you slept through English class? Not to worry, here’s what you may have missed.

Verisimilitude – the quality of seeming real in a story, play, or poem. Laura book fans, and especially our pageant-goers, are experts at verisimilitude. To enjoy her books and the pageant, her fans leave their reality and disbelief at the pageant gate.

What’s that got to do with”The First Four Years with Memories of Silver Lake”? Last year “The Long Winter” pageant challenged audience members to unleash their imaginations of the snow and cold and danger of “The Long Winter.” And to do it in July!

“Four Years and Memories” will give the audience challenges of time. In 90 minutes the audience will be taken from the Ingalls claim shanty with fairies and wolves at Silver Lake through four years of yous and sorrows and hardships faced by Laura and Almanzo at their tree claim and homestead on the Dakota prairie. It’s a “prairie time machine”!

The old song says, “You gotta have heart – miles and miles of heart.” Our 2010 pageant-goers will have miles and miles of heart and verisimilitude when they enter the prairie time machine for the first ever dramatic production of “The First Four Years with Memories of Silver Lake.”