WALNUT GROVE — With the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the much-loved "Fragments of a Dream" outdoor summer theater productions at Walnut Grove this month, organizers of the annual Wilder Pageant are bringing the 1800s-era story into the 21st century by way of Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube.
Beginning this Friday and continuing each Friday and Saturday evening for the next three weekends, people can tune in for live interviews with "Little House on the Prairie" television show stars, book authors and others who will share stories about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her time on the southwest Minnesota prairie. In addition, there will be a mix of live and recorded scenes, contests and pioneer crafts featured during each program.
Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder on the "Little House" TV series from 1979 to 1983, will kick off the six-part miniseries, "Laura’s Prairie Summer," with a live interview at 7 p.m. this Friday on Facebook Live and through the YouTube link accessible at walnutgrove.org. Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, will join the series on July 24 for a live interview with wit and stories.
Other guests appearing in the online event by date include:
July 10: Dale Cockrell, founder of “The Pa’s Fiddle Project," an educational program dedicated to recording music of the “Little House” books.
July 11: Sarah Uthoff, respected authority on Laura Ingalls Wilder and founder of trundlebedtales.com, a source of Laura Ingalls Wilder information.
July 17: William Anderson, author of the 2016 book “The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” He has written extensively about Laura Ingalls Wilder, and has authored or edited approximately 25 books and more than 100 articles.
July 18: Wendy McClure, author of “The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.”
July 24: Barb Mayes Boustead, past president of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy Research Association, climatologist and meteorologist who writes extensively about the weather described in Laura’s books.
July 25: Pamela Smith Hill, author of “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography,” an award-winning Laura Ingalls Wilder biography.
Audience participation is encouraged by submitting questions to the featured guests at LaurasPrairieChallenge@gmail.com. Check the Wilder Pageant web and Facebook pages for frequent updates.
Meanwhile, the Wilder Museum of Walnut Grove is open for the summer. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Limited buildings are open, and social distancing and face masks are required. There is a nominal admission fee.