September 2019 Roving Reports

September was a very Laura Ingalls Wilder themed month with two different Laura trips. Traditionally Laura Days in Pepin, Wisconsin, and Wilder Days in Mansfield, Missouri, are on consecutive weekends. That makes it hard to get the time to do both in a single year. This year I did get a unique chance to do both.

Normally when I make a Laura trip I like to call in and do a podcast every day so you can follow along. This year I didn’t get it done for either trip. In Pepin I had a technical issue and in Mansfield I got back so late each night I didn’t take time. I did do a couple of Facebook lives so you can find those back on my feed.

So I ended up doing one big roundup podcast episode for each. I hope you enjoy them. There are going to be video posts for both trips, too. Check out my YouTube and Vimeo channels every Friday.

Pepin

Sarah at Pepin
Sarah in my 1890s dress at Pepin

I was in town for Pepin’s Laura Days, September 13-15, 2019. I come in on Friday night, but honestly nothing is officially happening yet. It’s all set up. The biggest day of the event is Saturday which has my speech, the Little Miss Laura contest, the fiddle contest, and other assorted events. Sunday has several community events including a pancake breakfast and church service. The big event is the parade.

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2019/10/14/ep-106-roving-report-pepin-laura-days-2019

Find the video playlist.

Mansfield

Sarah by the Bust of Laura Ingalls Wilder

I was in town for Mansfield’s Wilder Days, September 19-22, 2019. Thursday I made a non-Laura related stop (look for the videos). Then I failed to get to stop and get a photo of Laura’s bust in the Missouri Hall of Fame in the state capitol. I stayed the night in Lebanon, Missouri which has grown a lot since the last time I stayed there as a kid. Friday I made it to Mansfield making a long stop at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Branch of the Wright County Library. I spent a lot of Friday afternoon at the Rock House and then back to museum for the VIP reception before the Wilder dinner at the high school gym. Saturday I heard Pa’s fiddle did Rocky Ridge and the museum and walked the path between the two houses. Saturday night I saw the pageant. Then Sunday morning I hit the stuff that I could get photos of when they were closed. Then I headed home.

https://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2019/10/30/ep-107-roving-report-mansfield-wilder-days-2019

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 ,   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 Homesites Open for the Season 2019

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Season has officially gotten underway again. If you plan a Laura trip before they open, make sure you call ahead. The homesite museums that are not fully open, may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see.

Although you should double check before making a special trip, homesites tend to open on very similar, if not the same, dates every year so use this to plan for next year.

Wagon Ride at DeSmet Pageant
Wagon Ride at DeSmet Pageant

2019 Opening Dates

Pepin, WI
– Opens May 1, 2019

Independence, KS
– Opened April 1, 2019

Walnut Grove, MN
– The visitor/gift shop stays open all year round with reduced hours in the off season.
April 1, 2019 the ground open and the hours expand to include weekends.
(Mon.-Sat. 10:00 am-4:00 pm; Sun. 12 Noon-4:00 pm)
May 1, 2019 they expand weekend hours again
(Mon.-Sat. 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Sun. 12 Noon-5:00 pm)
June 1, 2019 hours extend to 10:00 am – 6:00 pm daily.

Dugout Site normally not open until sometime May. The date is dependent on weather conditions, if there is still snow or if it’s flooded it won’t open as early. Call ahead and check. But it’s now open for this year.

Burr Oak, IA
– Opened May 1, 2019 MonSat limited hours through May.
(Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm –Last tour 3:  on all days– Sunday: Noon – 4:00 pm) Hours expand with Memorial Day, May 28, 2019
(Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm-Last tour 4:00 pm- Sunday: Noon – 4:00 pm Last tour 3:00 pm)

DeSmet, SD
Memorial Society – Opened limited hours in January – April, expand to Saturday during May (Monday thru Saturday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm)
Goes to 7 days a week June 1, 2019 (Monday thru Friday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Sunday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm)

Ingalls Homestead – Opened Memorial Day Weekend for regular hours 9:00 am – 7:00 pm every day with activities from 10:00 am -6:00 pm. They host school visits M-F through May so if you plan on a visit before they officially open next year, you may not be out of luck.  Visitors are welcome to join up with a school group, but should call or email first to get specific times as they vary daily.  800-776-3594 – mail@ingallshomestead.com

Mansfield, MO
Opened March 1, 2018 (Monday thru Saturday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday: 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm)

Malone/Burke, NY
 – Opens Sat., May 26, 2018

Spring Valley, MN 
Open Daily starting June 1, 2019

Keystone, SD
– Opened May 15, 2019

Vinton, IA
– As of now the school remains closed. The School for the Blind was combined last year with the The School for the Deaf and they moved to Council Bluffs (which honestly I still don’t understand how that was legal).

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 Homesites Open for the Season 2015

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Season has officially gotten underway again. If you plan a Laura trip before they open, make sure you call ahead. The homesite museums that are not fully open, may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see.

Little House on the Prairie Museum Site
Little House on the Prairie Museum Site

 

Pepin, WI – Opens May 15, 2015

Independence, KS – Opened April 3, 2015

Walnut Grove, MN – Museum opened April 1, 2015. Dugout Site not open until May. The date is dependent on weather conditions, if there is still snow or if it’s flooded it won’t open as early. Call ahead and check.

Burr Oak, IA – Opened May 1, MonSat 10-4 and Sun 12-4 through May. Hours change with
Memorial Day.

De Smet, SD –
Memorial Society – Open in April Mon.-Fri. 9am-4pm, in May Mon.-Sat. 9am-4pm, June-August 9am-5:30pm

Ingalls Homestead – Opens Memorial Day Weekend, Sat., May  23, 2015 for regular 9am -7pm every day with activities from 10am -6pm  schedule. They are hosting school visits M-F beginning April 29.  Visitors are welcome to join up with a school group, but should call or email first to get specific times as they vary daily.  800-776-3594 – mail@ingallshomestead.com

Mansfield, MO –
Opened March 1st, 2015

Malone, NY
Open Sat., May 23, 2015 – The official season is May 23-Sept. 30, but in order to accommodate out-of-state visitors, they accept early tours by appointment beginning on May 11. Similarly, post-season tours can be arranged in October. Advance appointments depend on tour guide availability. Minimum admission for non-open season tours is $25. Please call or email to schedule, and give the Homestead two weeks’ notice so we can schedule our volunteer guides. After May 23rd, hours are Monday – Saturday, 10-4 and Sunday noon-4. Last tour each days begins at 3 p.m.

Spring Valley, MN
R
egular hours on Memorial Day Weekend, Sat., May 23, 2015.

Keystone, SD – Opens June 1, 2015

Vinton, IA – Since they are kind of in a different situation, being part of an institution that has to be open all year. They don’t have stated open hours, but will gladly give a tour by appointment. Pat Barr wrote “We  will give a tour any day Monday through Friday. They may call Justin Ruegg at 319-472-5221, Extension 1226 or myself at 319-472-5221, Extension 1110.”

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 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.

Barn Quilts

Barn Quilt

If you’re not from the Midwest, you might well ask just what is a barn quilt. In short, it’s a large plywood tile, painted as a quilt square and hung on the side of a barn (sometimes they paint them directly on the barn, but due to traditional barn battens they tend to look better on a second surface). The idea is too increase rural tourism by combining two things people in the Midwest often already love barns and quilts. Although some people just hang the barn quilts on their own, most are part of a countywide program. You can just see them driving through the county or there is usually a map available giving you a route to drive to see all of them in the county. Some counties choose nice barns only. Some counties hang them on pole buildings or even put them on poles in front of a non-barn building. I even saw one once on the front side of barn in kind of bad shape where the back half had collapsed, so they vary a lot.

I really think this would be an excellent program for the counties with Laura homesites to adopt. It would give fans an excuse to see more of the area and get a better feel for what it was like for Laura to live there and they can also be used to promote stops at rural businesses (many of which set up in farmsteads now made unnecessary as larger operations took over the farms). I think Laura fans would really enjoy it. What do you think?

Find a directory of current projects, lots more photos, and more explanation at the link below:

http://www.quiltersnewsletter.com/articles/quilt_barns

Driving from Iowa City to the Burr Oak/Spring Valley/Pepin area you will see many counties that support these programs. This is just one I pass on the way that was nice and close to the road for a good clear picture. Please do remember that these barn quilts are on private property and take any photos from the road.

Also, they always photograph better if you can get the side of the building in full sun.

UPDATE: I really enjoyed updating my top 10 viewed posts and decided, just because I’ve been enjoying it, to keep going through the top 20. This is the first post of the second group. Barn Quilts have expanded in interest since I originally posted this in 2010. There has been an explosion of people privately creating barn quilts for their barn or house or even sheds and people have started making them smaller as another option, with some of these new barn quilts being about a quarter of the size of the originals. A lot of the standard size and quality has gone away as the phenomenon has spread and I’m sorry to say that to a big extent its original very clever purpose of promoting tourism has been lost. I’m afraid within a generation it will just be another of those things that were always done (probably, sigh, with a lot of phony explanations of why they are there and what they mean). They are still enjoyable to look for though, so next time you are driving to a Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite town, or just for a drive in the country keep an eye out and see how many you can see.

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.

Get Out and Walk

Lots of people making a Laura trip for the first time, especially those who haven’t put in a lot of effort to research what’s there, don’t know what to expect at a Laura homesite town. The more you put into prepping a trip and asking questions ahead of time the more you get out of it. Most of these towns don’t tell you everything in an one stop shopping type format and all of them house extra little jewels if you’re willing to dig.

However, no matter which Laura town you visit the best piece of advice I can give you is to park your car, get out and walk. Laura didn’t experience these towns zooming by a car window and to get the best experience neither should you. This was borne into me again in my last trip to De Smet.

My favorite Laura experience happened in De Smet during a Laura conference. I was wearing a long dress and walked up the road from the schoolhouse back up to the front gate. It was really a magical experience.  The sun beat down, the wind tossed the prairie grasses, kids were singing, insects were buzzing and little clouds of dust swirled up with each step. This was the very road that Laura and her whole family must have walked a 1000 times, I felt like Laura was just over the hill at any minute.

A more practical experience getting a feel for the town can be had in any town. Although I’ve walked all over De Smet (there is even an official walking tour now) and I even met a family once who had taken an airport shuttle to town (from the “big city”) and more walking literally everywhere for the week. I think Pepin offers a great example of getting a feel for the town by walking. When I am town for Laura Days I tend to park my car either by the library or the Pepin Motel if I’m staying there, and leave it there until I head over to the Wayside (the replica cabin site) and the Little House Store in Lund. Walking gives you a feel for the town, how close things are. In the right part of town you’ll see all kinds of unique shops that you can see. It gives you a feel for the spaces involved. Some day, like Pa, I’m going to walk out to the Wayside, as soon as I can talk somebody into doing it with me.

You don’t have to walk as far as that, but I want to encourage everyone on your next Laura trip. Get out and walk!