There are two LIW sites that I know of that hold evening outdoor pageants: Walnut Grove, MN and De Smet, SD. Both are along Hwy. 14, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway.
Last summer we attended the pageant and look-alike contest in Walnut Grove. This pageant, although a bit over-acted, included plenty of drama: real horses, real fire, real veteran actors. The performance in De Smet was a little flat in comparison, but still a definite must-see if you are there already.
We arrived shortly after the gates opened so we could eat dinner and take a wagon ride. They do let you bring your own food in, just so you know. We didn't know.
We also did not know that there was a real buffalo wallow on the property.
The sign didn't say if it was THE buffalo wallow where they almost lost Grace, but it wasn't hard to imagine a little girl in this depression, lost among the pretty violets that once grew on the prairie.
The prairie sky is absolutely amazing. Panoramic. Along with the wind, it becomes a character in the story of this pioneer family. I ended up buying a bonnet for protection from the wind and sun. I get it now.
The setting of the pageant is adjacent to Pa & Ma's homestead. Do you see The Cottonwoods sticking up behind the set over yonder?
More photos of the kids - I was killing time before the play began. To get a close seat we had to sit on backless benches in the sun.
It was so hot. Did I mention that? The pre-show actually featured a girl singing Christmas carols to encourage the audience to think cooling thoughts.
Before the play began, there was a roll call of states. Pretty much every state was represented, and several countries.
Here we were in this little town without so much as a single stoplight and I over heard French and German spoken by visitors with cool shoes.
I resisted the urge to dress up the baby on this trip. Didn't think he would want to play along.
The roles in this pageant have mostly been turned over to high school/college age actors with a few veterans anchoring the performance. The blizzard was the most modern element - represented by dancers in white.
A sun the color of carrots and peaches sunk into the horizon and as The Long Winter was reenacted we and the rest of the audience were still trying to think ourselves cooler.