Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Laura fans: Walnut Grove pageant needs financial help after flash flooding July 13, 2018

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of the pageant site along the banks of Plum Creek taken several years ago..


WALNUT GROVE AND LAURA INGALLS WILDER. The two are synonymous. Wilder brought notoriety to this small southwestern Minnesota prairie community with her Little House books. The town embraces the author in its summer-time productions of The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant. Staged in an outdoor amphitheater along the banks of Plum Creek, the pageant brings Wilder’s prairie stories to life. It’s a top-notch show that I’ve seen twice.


Plum Creek floods the pageant grounds following torrential rain. Photo source: Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Facebook page.


But now the Wilder Pageant Committee needs financial help to deal with damage caused by early July flash floods that ravaged southwestern Minnesota, including the creek-side performance site. Shows were canceled because of the flood. Volunteers worked hard to clean up the mess so the show could reopen on July 12 with added performances.


Native prairie plants, like black-eyed Susan and coneflowers, are featured on a mural in the heart of Walnut Grove. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I love that about small towns—the coming together to get a job done. The people of Walnut Grove understand the value of Laura Ingalls Wilder to the local economy. And they are determined that the Big Flood on the Prairie will not stop the show despite damage to sets, costumes, sound and light equipment, and site access roads.


Flood clean-up. Photo source: Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Facebook page.


A gofundme page has been set up to help pay for maintenance to aging and flood-damaged facilities. The goal is $30,000. Please consider donating and spread the word.


Photo source: Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Facebook page.


I am a mega fan of Wilder’s descriptive writing. That she lived in a dugout on the banks of Plum Creek in my native Redwood County, on my beloved prairie, endears me even more to this author.


Laura Look-A-Like contestants gather for a group shot in the park several years ago. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


To all the wonderful folks in Walnut Grove and surrounding area, thank you for your tireless efforts to welcome Laura fans from around the world to your community. Even after a devastating flood.


Period attire is common among young Laura fans visiting Walnut Grove. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


CLICK HERE to reach the gofundme page and learn more.

NOTE: The Ingalls dugout site is temporarily closed due to flooding.

BUT the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove is open.

Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Laura fans: Walnut Grove pageant needs financial help after flash flooding”

  1. Lovely story and thanks for telling us about their need. The town is showing its pioneer strength.

  2. Oh No! Standing water and buildings do not do well together. Thanks for sharing the Go Fund Me page. Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

    • You are welcome. More rain fell there yesterday.

    • The weather has a mind of its own lately. Rainy, steamy, warm to hot to hotter, windy, etc. I was sitting at work the other day and lightening struck the parking lot outside my window and made the hair on my arms stand up – way too close. It is umbrella season here – carry multiple umbrellas as well as wear the water shoes. Last year it poured 2 inches of water in 22 minutes and it was a hot mess of a commute getting home that evening. The wiper blades down here need a Florida setting – ha!

  3. Colleen Hondl Gengler Says:

    I was in the Walnut Grove area last evening, July 12, on a garden tour. Unfortunately the skies opened up again with heavy rain. I don’t know if they were able to go ahead with the special Thursday performance which was meant to make up for the first flooded out weekend of performances. For sure they need support! They will also have a Thursday performance next week weather permitting of course.

  4. Oooo, Walnut Grove. Even the name brings me home.
    Thank you for sharing, Audrey. As always, you bring the stories closer to those who do not
    know what is happening in Minnesota. xxx

  5. parkerozgood Says:

    It’s crazy how much rain we are getting lately! I saw someone had 7 inches yesterday!

  6. That is crazy rain. My sister lives in DeSmet, SD where Ma and Pa are buried. I love Laura Ingalls!

  7. Donna Coleman Says:

    Thank you for alerting us to the gofundme page. We took our granddaughters there a few years ago. It was a special experience.

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    Informative posting with details I was not aware of and love the photos up close and personal of sweet children’s faces

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I saw something about the flooding at the dugout site on the news. Heartbreaking but it sounds like they have a lot of volunteers to help. Hopefully they reach their GoFundMe goals!

  10. Gunny Says:

    Great photos Audrey!

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