I skipped the morning presentations and used the time to go out to the Ingalls Homestead. I love spending time out there. I didn’t get out of the visitor center before I found a shareworthy photo. Surfer Dude ponies.
One special event was they had Doug Hansen who is an expert wagon builder and restorer explain about the museum’s newly acquired 1880s-1890s farm wagon. He said it was in very good barn find condition and it only took a couple of new pieces to restore it to a working wagon “that could take you to California right now.” He pointed out how it was a working farm wagon and the ways you could convert it into different tools as needed. You could add or take off sideboards to change the size of the wagon or pull the box all together to use it as a lumber or log wagon. He also pointed out how some car parts still take their names from the parts of wagons. One of the most interesting things was that they needed to constantly grease the axles because they didn’t have any bearings. Wagons may seem like they were just thrown together, but they went through as complete engineering process as cars go through today down to what types of wood worked the best for which parts of the wagon.
There was a representative from the South Dakota School for the Blind helping with Braille activities AND with a display about New York Point because she knew that’s REALLY what Mary would have learned. So many points for them. (New York Point was a raised dot system that developed in America about the time Braille was developed in France. There was a fight over which to use. Learn more in this episode.)
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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.
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.)
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.
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.