Laura Days in Pepin 2010

This is going to be the 5th year that I have been a keynote speaker, along with Kitty Latane, for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Pepin, Wisconsin. The Pepin Public Library have continued to generously sponsor and host both speeches  and I’d like to thank them for their support. They are well worth a visit on any Pepin visit to see their display case of Wilder related items (before the museum opened and the replica cabin was built it was THE Laura place to stop).  Read more about it on their website below.

Or at the official Pepin, Wisconsin site:

I hope to see you there.


Hometown Holiday – Pepin Wisconsin

Pepin is trying to have more of a celebration of Laura Ingalls Wilder all year. Let’s turn out and support them.

Pepin Hometown Celebration

December 3-5, 2010

Living in the tradition of a creative community.

This holiday season, come home to the birthplace of author Laura Ingalls Wilder in Pepin, Wisconsin, on the banks of the Mississippi River.  In the spirit of the handbuilt, locally-grown and handmade, Pepin’s artisans and merchants bring a contemporary sensibility to the traditional arts of everyday living.

Friday, 12/3

3-5 pm Visit Santa Claus at the Bank of Alma (in Pepin)
3-6 pm cookie decorating at T&C Latane
Play the “Do you see what I see?” game around the village

Saturday, 12/4

9 am Cookie walk at Immanuel Lutheran Church
9 am – 1 pm Chili at Pepin United Methodist Church
10 am – 5 pm Village shops open with artist and artisan demos
10 am – 4 pm Ornament-making workshop at The Lake Pepin Art & Design Center
10 am – 5 pm Decorated cookie contest at T&C Latane
11 am – 4 pm Horse-drawn wagon rides with St. Nicholas
11 am – 5 pm Harbor View Cafe open for lunch
5 pm Trebuchet Fling of Flame
6 pm Live holiday music and local/pioneer desserts at The Lake Pepin Art & Design Center

Sunday, 12/5

Shops open noon – 4 pm
11 am – 5 pm Harbor View Cafe open for lunch
Noon – 4 pm Ornament-making workshop at The Lake Pepin Art & Design Center
Noon – 4 pm Decorated cookie contest at T&C Latane & turn in “Do you see what I see?” game forms

Information at:

Pepin Essay Contest 2010

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society Essay Contest

Thousands of people come to Pepin every year to see the birth site of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the town about which she wrote in Little House in the Big Woods. Her stories tell of her family’s struggle as they made their home on the frontier of the Midwestern United States during the second half of the nineteenth century. They worked to be self-sufficient, building their houses from local materials, growing and preserving their own food, and “moving on” when the growing population drove the wild game away. The children who come to Pepin for Laura Ingalls Wilder Days live in houses with electricity and running water, televisions and computers, few chores and much leisure. Their lives are profoundly different from the life described in the Little House books.

The theme of this year’s essay is, “Does Laura Ingalls Wilder matter in the 21st Century?” The content is divided into two sections, one for adults of eighteen years or older, and one for young people under eighteen years of age. The essay can have a maximum of 300 words. The entrance deadline is August 21, 2010, and the winner will be announced and the winning entry read on Saturday, September 11, 2010, during Laura Ingalls Wilder days in Pepin.

For more information contact: Catherine Latane, (715)442-2419

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society of

Pepin, Wisconsin is sponsoring

The ninth annual

Essay Contest

On the topic

Does Laura Ingalls Wilder Matter in the 21st Century?

Prize includes publication in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society newsletter.


  1. Entrants must be current members of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society of Pepin.
  2. Entries must be 300 words or less.
  3. Entries must be typed.
  4. Entries must be the original work of the entrant.
  5. Only one entry per entrant.
  6. Entry deadline, August 21, 2010
  7. Send entry to: Essay Contest, PO Box 62, Pepin, WI 54759
  8. Winner to be announced, and winning essay to be read aloud, on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 during Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Pepin. Winners will be notified by Sept. 1, 2010

Fill out the form below and return with entry

Name:______________________________________________ Phone Number___________________

Address_____________________________________________ email address____________________

  1. Category

□ Eighteen years or older

□ Under eighteen years

Age (if under eighteen years) ____________

  1. □ I am a current member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society

□ Enclosed is my membership payment for 2010. ($3.00, junior historian, under 18, $10, individual and family, $100 life membership.)

C.  I consent to having my essay read aloud in public and to having it published in the Laura Ingalls  Wilder Society newsletter.

Signature __________________________

______I plan to attend Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Pepin on Sept. 11 & 12, 2010. (We invite writers who are present to read their essays during the essay presentation.)

His Girl in Overalls

Pepin, Wisconsin’s most famous writer is Laura Ingalls Wilder, but there are other published writers who lived there. Elizabeth Clarke Hardy published this poem in 1918. I really enjoyed it and think it shows a great little piece of the homefront. I hope you enjoy it too.

His Girl in Overalls

Well, yes, the kid’s enlisted,

We expected that you know;

When he heard the call to colors

Of course he’d want to go.

An’ we’re proud, an’ glad an’ sorry,

For the lad’s our pride and joy,

An’ his mother – well you know mothers,

an’ he was our only boy.

An’ I – well there’s no denying,

I depended on the lad,

For he’s always been a sight of help

An’ comfort to his dad;

But I never fully realized

how much I’d miss the scamp

Till I started for the barn alone,

The mornin’ he left for camp.

I was feelin’ pretty lonesome,

An’ somehow my eyes were dim,

When I saw someone a stand’ there,

I really thought was Jim;

But before I’d time to speculate,

My little daughter calls,

“Say, Dad, how do you like me

In my brand new overalls?”

She had the team all harnessed

An’ had hitched them to the plow;

“I’ve tried to do it, Dad,” she said:

Just as Jamie showed me how,

I’m not needed in the house you know,

For Mother she has Sue,

An’ so I’m goin’ to do my bit,

Out in the field with you,

We’ve got to send our boys to war,

An’ feed the people, too,

an’ it’s up to Uncle Samuel’s girls

To show what they can do.”

Then she climbed up on the tractor

An’ drove away on that –

My little gal in overalls an’

Jamie’s old straw hat.

An’, Sir, you’d be surprised to see

The things that gal can do,

An’ how she works with might an’ main

To help put things through;

An’ I guess we needn’t worry, Sir,

When Uncle Samuel calls,

He can trust his boys in khaki,

An’ his girls in overalls.

The Pepin County Historical Society sells a biography of Hardy if you’d like to learn more about her.

2 More Historic Buildings Destroyed in Pepin

Former Notes from Pepin editor Kitty Latane keeps a close watch on the historic buildings in Pepin. Her book and her presentation take us on a tour of all the buildings that remain from when Laura Ingalls Wilder arrived in the town.  She points out in her final issue of the newsletter that 2 more historic buildings were torn down this year. The A.S. Grey Store built in approximately 1870 and torn down this year. The village hall, next door to the library, and in use up to this year, was also torn this year after a local effort to save it failed.

7 total historic buildings were destroyed since 2000. Probably most visible of these was the Time Theater on the main street in town. This former movie theater for a time was turned into a regular theater and at one time was home to Pepin’s version of a Laura Pageant.

Kitty Latane

Kitty Latane Tinsmith
Kitty Latane

I just got the sad news that Kitty Latane, the longtime editor of the Notes from Pepin – the official newsletter of the Laura Ingalls Wilder organization in Pepin, Wisconsin, has resigned from her position. Latane has done a marvelous job with this newsletter and I’m sure all of Laura fandom will join be in giving her a round of applause for all her hard work.

Kitty has been a major force in keeping the Laura in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Pepin. She organizes the Buckskinner Rendezvous/traditional craft demonstration, the essay contest, and presents a fascinating program on Pepin’s history at the time Laura lived there and which buildings still remain from that time. Kitty is also the co-author of  The Village of Pepin at the Time of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Kitty is known worldwide as a tinsmith and she makes a limited edition tin cookie cutter in a Laura design each Laura day. Here’s Kitty’s website about her tinsmithing.

Her husband Tom, who also does a lot with the craft demonstration, has a separate page with photos of their shop and forge. Be sure to visit their shop on the main street of Pepin if you visit.

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!