Pageant, Festival return

Laura and Nellie Look-a-Like winners during the first Family Festival in Walnut Grove were Autumn Kaufenberg (Laura, left) of Walnut Grove and Kelly Forbes (Nellie) of Mapleton, Iowa. Photo / Per Peterson

By Per Peterson

An early-afternoon rain couldn’t entirely dampen the spirits of Laura Ingalls Wilder fans who once again converged on Walnut Grove for the opening performances of the Fragments of a Dream Pageant and Family Festival this past Friday and Saturday.

Walnut Grove came alive again Friday and Saturday, a year removed from COVID-19 shutting down the festival and live pageant. Fans young and old packed the Wilder Museum all weekend, filled the park Saturday and took in the live show at the pageant site just west of Walnut Grove.

For Lisa Bohnert of Lombard, IL, Saturday’s stop in Walnut Grove was a return trip, as she first came to the pageant as a child.

“My parents brought me here as a child, and last year I brought my kids to DeSmet (SD), because they were closed down here because of COVID, of course,” Bohnert said. “My parents said, ‘We have to come to Walnut Grove next year as a family, but my mom passed away in February, so she didn’t make it. But the rest of us decided we were going to make it happen.”

Bohnert’s father, Lyle, who is from Chicago, remembers the family’s first trip to Walnut and was glad to bring his daughter back as an adult.

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