Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: Laura Ingalls Wilder wannabes February 13, 2015

Portrait #7: Laura Look-A-Likes


Portrait 7, Laura look-alikes


THESE ARE THE FACES of contestants in a July 2013 Laura Look-A-Like Contest in Walnut Grove, Minnesota childhood home of author Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The girls lined up for a photo to be published in the local newspaper. The rest of us, including lots of proud parents and this proud aunt, snapped away. That’s my niece on the left, come here from North Dakota.

Laura fans travel from all over the country, and even the world, to pay homage to Laura and her Little House books. So, just to be clear, these are not all Minnesota faces featured here.

But these girls, some clutching Laura and Charlotte (Laura’s rag doll) dolls, portray the pioneer spirit. They adore Laura and her books. Or perhaps it’s the TV series, Little House on the Prairie, they adore.

They remind me of me. I grew up about 25 miles from Walnut Grove in Vesta, where an elementary teacher read the entire Little House series to her students during an after lunch reading period. This was long before the television show and long before Walnut Grove residents realized the importance of Laura to their community.

February marks an important month for Laura fans. The author was born on February 7, 1867, and died on February 10, 1957.

Perhaps you noticed on February 7 that Google featured Laura and her sister Mary in a prairie scene. Twins Jack and Holman Wang of Canada created that Google banner through the process of needle felting, basically sculpting the sisters from wool. (Click here to learn more.)

Besides the Google gig, Laura is also back in the news with the recent release of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. The South Dakota Historical Society Press clearly underestimated the interest in this book with an initial press run of 15,000. Now in its third printing, the book is currently out of stock and will begin shipping again in March. I’m sure many a Little House fan is waiting for the title.

Laura seems as popular today as she did decades ago, when I imagined myself as a pioneer girl on the prairie.

This is part of a series, Minnesota Faces, published every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling