WALNUT GROVE - Hundreds of fans from all across the country gathered in Walnut Grove Friday for the 40th anniversary of the "Little House on the Prairie" cast reunion celebration. Throughout the weekend, thousands of fans are expected to visit Walnut Grove. Pre-sale tickets for the pageant show sales of 1,300 for Friday and more than 2,000 for today's show.
Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, and Dan McBride, who played Henry Riley, were among the cast members signing autographs in Walnut Grove City Park.
"It's a trip. I've been here several times since the '90s, so I'm sort of a veteran," said Arngrim. "But now I'm here with the whole gang from the show and for some of them it's their first time here, and they are just freaking out. They've never seen anything like it."
Photos by Anna Haecherl-Smith
Sisters Chloe and Lauren Bartley made the trip from Naples, Fla. to Walnut Grove to meet the cast of the popular television series Little House on the Prairie. Wendi Turnbaugh Lee, Brenda Turnbaugh Weatherby, Alison Arngrim and Dan McBride were among the cast members signing autographs Friday.
Alison Arngrim takes a photo of a homemade Little Houseopoly board made by fan Kitty McDowell of Ceredot, W. Va.
Maggie Teel, Josie Duchatschek and Rory Teel came all the way from Collinsville, Ill. to meet the stars of their favorite television show.
"This is my first time ever," McBride said of his visit to Walnut Grove. "This is amazing. I'm coming to believe that these are the best fans in the world. The fan mail I get is phenomenal."
"This is prairie Woodstock. There's going to be thousands of people converging on this place," Arngrim said. "I think it's just incredible. If you told any of us 40 years ago that this would be happening, we'd never believe it."
Josie Duchatschek, and her friends Rory and Maggie Teel, rode in a car for 13 hours from Collinsville, Ill. to meet the cast of their favorite television show. Duchatschek said she made the trip with family and friends "because I love the show. I have the books, but I love the TV show. I really like Laura, Nellie and Almanzo."
Duchatschek and her friends were dressed in period attire complete with bonnets and even an old lard can that serves as a lunch pail that Duchatschek found in an antique store.
"I have three dresses, three bonnets and a pair of shoes," Duchatschek said.
Laura Tanin from St. Paul, and her sister, Marlena DeBauche, got autographs and took photos with the cast as they sported their homemade bonnets that had a modern flair from the funky fabric they used.
"We're thinking about bringing back the prairie bonnet," Tanin said. "They don't mess up you hair like a baseball hat does. We just made our bonnets two weeks ago just for this."
The sisters said they are camping along the banks of Plum Creek to get a feel for the real Laura's childhood experience.
"I grew up with 'Little House on the Prairie,'" Tanin said. "I fell in love with Laura because it's not that common of a name."
Kitty McDowell, her daughter, Karen Patrick, and friends traveled from Ceredo and Elkins, W. Va. to get their homemade "Little House on the Prairie" themed Monopoly game signed by the cast.
McDowell and Patrick created the concept for the game in 2010 and completed it in 2011.
"We had seen the blank games and wanted to make something with 'Little House on the Prairie,'" McDowell said. She and her daughter have visited Walnut Grove several times in the past, but the cast reunion was the draw for them this year.