Little House Researchers Gather in Minnesota This Summer
Open to the public, the scholarly summit first held in 2010 showcases original research, speakers and panels related to Laura Ingalls Wilder, her family, her museums and the impact her books have had on American culture. Actors from the hit TV show “Little House on the Prairie,” which was loosely based on the book series, will also be on hand (including Alison “Nellie Oleson” Arngrim).
“We’re very excited to be hosting this gathering again,” says Dr. Amy Lauters, LIWLRA president who, as a professor in the department of Mass Media at MSU, is chairing the conference for the second time. “We have a number of fun activities and some fantastic speakers to look forward to, and I’m sure we’re offering something for every Little House and Laura Ingalls Wilder fan out there.”
Throughout the conference, attendees will enjoy demonstrations, research, entertainment and discussion taken from the pages of the books. Key guest speakers include William Anderson, the premier Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer for the past forty years, and Barbara Walker, author of the long-beloved Little House Cookbook, first published in the 1970s. Presentations deal with everything from 1880s weather to Laura-related dolls to the legal legacy of her books.
For the first time, young fans will also have an opportunity to join the fun with Camp Laura, a concurrent program intended for children K-6. The program will give children a hands-on look at the books and the history surrounding them. “Kids will step into the pages of the Little House books and experience pioneer life as Laura lived it, with the help of Wilder authorities and enthusiasts,” says Camp Laura Director Rebecca Brammer.
Centrally located to multiple settings from the series, Mankato will bring fans close to the story’s roots. Two hours southwest of Wilder’s birthplace in Pepin, Wis., and three hours east of De Smet, S.D., her childhood home, attendees will be within an easy distance of these sites.
“It was important to us that we hold the conference as close to ‘Laura-land’ as possible,” says Sandra Hume, author of the forthcoming “Little House Travel” ebook (available in June) and founding board member of the LIWLRA. “The Little House books are as much a sense of place as they are good stories. You can’t read them without wanting to go where they happened—and unlike in many other books, these places really exist.”
After the conference ends on Saturday, attendees will have the option of going on to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, the town Laura called home in the 1870s, which served as the setting for her book On the Banks of Plum Creek. Organizers from The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove are preparing to welcome travelers and provide special activities just for them.
Even people who can’t attend LauraPalooza in person are invited to join in through videos, blog posts and social media at Beyond Little House (www.beyondlittlehouse.com), its corresponding Facebook page (search “Beyond Little House” on Facebook), and on Twitter (@BeyondLitlHouse ).
Dorm-style housing is available for attendees who want to stay on campus; this housing rate includes all meals courtesy of the university dining hall, as well as a sit-down keynote luncheon where key players in the Little House literary world will be honored. For travelers who would rather stay in traditional hotels, a block of rooms has been set aside in local lodging.
The conference is being organized by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Board members of the LIWLRA contribute to the website “Beyond Little House” (www.beyondlittlehouse.com), the premier go-to website for all things Little House, and the Homesteader, the only full-color publication about Laura Ingalls Wilder and all of the museums that honor her (www.homesteadernewsletter.com).
For more information on the conference and this year’s presenters, visit www.beyondlittlehouse.com or contact Amy Lauters at email@example.com or Sandra Hume at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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