In July of 2014, the community of Walnut Grove celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first airing of the hit TV series “Little House on the Prairie.” Eleven members of the famous cast came to town to take part in the festivities. In advance of the big day, Pioneer’s Postcards crew interviewed some of the people who work day in and day out to make Walnut Grove an international tourist destination.
Stanley Gordon is interviewed as the owner of the Ingalls’ Farm Dugout Site where the famous book On the Banks of Plum Creek is set. The place where Laura grew up has been in Stanley's family for 70 years and he takes the responsibility for maintaining the site for visitors very seriously.
Nicole Elzenga has served as the Collections Manager for Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum for the past 15 years. In the Postcards story, Elzenga talks about her favorite items among the collection of Little House on the Prairie memorabilia contained in 8 different buildings on the museum site.
Dan Wahl, a Walnut Grove high school graduate who now teaches ESL at the Tracy Area High School, talks about what it was like to serve as the new director of the famous Wilder Pageant that has been held in Walnut Grove since 1977.
“I was amazed by this play because it seemed like such an encapsulation of community, “ said Wahl. “The message was about working hard, coming together, celebrating successes, being there for each other in failures and building something, making something bigger than yourself,” he added. For Wahl, the play is an accurate reflection of the community spirit still alive in Walnut Grove area today.
The Postcards episode concludes with an interview with Federico Estol, an award winning Uruguayan photographer who found his way to Montevideo, Minnesota to make a book of photographs about daily life in that community to share back in his hometown of Montevideo, Uruguay. In the process of making the book, Estol found his way into the hearts and minds of western Minnesotans and his visit helped to reignite one of the oldest sister city relationships in the U.S.