First a flood, now this

THE ICONIC SCENE of the Ingalls family riding in on a horse-drawn wagon for the Fragments of a Dream pageant won’t be enjoyed this summer, as the annual event has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tracy Area Headlight Herald file photo

COVID-19 wipes out Fragments of a Dream for 2020

By Per Peterson

A flood washed out the Fragments of a Dream pageant in the summer of 2018, but the pageant bounced back in a big way with a memory-making spectacle last year that included a plethora of “Little House” actors descending on Walnut Grove.

Today, it’s not the weather that’s wrecking havoc on the internationally-beloved event, it’s a pandemic.

It was announced last week that this year’s festival, which has been entertaining throngs of Laura Ingalls fans for 42 years, will not be held because of COVID-19 and subsequent social distancing mandates. Cast members were notified by email and phone.

“After the initial domino effect of most theater and other live events being cancelled, it was obvious that we would be in a similar situation,” said Wilder Pageant Committee President Bill Richards. After a little grieving and sadness, it was time for the optimist’s PLAN B!”

Richards, who has filled different roles for the pageant since 1978, calls this summer an “extended intermission.” He said the safety of the audience, cast and crew are of the utmost concern.

“We do not like to call it a ‘cancellation,’” he said. “I prefer to think of it as an unfunded mandate. For health and safety and helping people plan their summer, it became apparent that it was needed now rather than waiting until June. It was a very hard choice that took the committee almost an hour of discussion via Zoom.

Richards said in place of a live pageant this year, the Wilder Pageant Committee’s plan is to create an online miniseries with live and recorded performances, live interviews, history moments and contests for the audience. They will broadcast their first program on the normal pageant start date: 7 p.m. on Friday, July 10. It is the committee’s intent to share its miniseries “Laura’s Prairie Summer” on Youtube and Facebook; check the website at for updates.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.