skip navigation and jump to page content The Library of CongressThe American Folklife Center 
Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
The Ingalls arrive in their covered wagon
The Ingalls arrive in their covered wagon Photo: William Richards

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant

Presented every July in Walnut Grove, the Wilder Pageant is a family-oriented outdoor drama with all Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie book characters. An actress playing a 70-year-old Laura narrates the story, reflecting on her life in Walnut Grove during the 1870s.

The stage at the hillside amphitheater where the drama is presented was designed to facilitate extensive lighting, sound, special effects, and imaginative sets. Laura Ingalls Wilder, famous author of the children's Little House series of books, was born in Wisconsin, and moved with her family to Walnut Creek. Her family was one of the pioneer families who settled Walnut Grove, following the Homestead Act of 1862.

The Walnut Grove pageant developed as a result of the popular 1970s TV series, Little House on the Prairie, set in Walnut Creek (although DeSmet, South Dakota, was the book's setting) . When tourists started coming to Walnut Creek, the community decided to create something relevant for them to see. A museum was developed in an old train depot, and filled with Laura Ingalls Wilder memorabilia. About this same time, a local college student, Jim Merchant, approached the museum committee about a play he was writing about the Ingalls life in Walnut Creek. The museum decided to sponsor his play, Fragments of a Dream, which first played in 1978 to standing room only crowds in the sweltering summer heat in the auditorium at Walnut Grove High School. The following year, the pageant moved to its permanent home on the banks of Plum Creek. The production is a year-round job for the Wilder Pageant committee, made up of local volunteers.

Documentation includes a text report, 22 photographs, and programs.

Originally submitted by: David Minge, Representative (2nd District).

link to www.loc.govMore Local Legacies...

The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

disclaimer for external linksLearn More About It...
  The Library of Congress 
The American Folklife Center
Contact Us
AFC Icon