Once upon a time I used to consider myself a Laura Ingalls Wilder expert. I read all her books, I read an honest-to-goodness biography about her (the only one available at the time) and once, on my father’s cross-country business trip, I dragged my parents to De Smet, South Dakota at 6 in the morning for a private tour of the Surveyors’ House and the Ingalls’ Third Street home. Yes, that was just as cool as it sounds and no, I wouldn’t imagine they’d do it for somebody today. It was a different time, boys and girls. After that trip I really felt like I was the greatest LIW expert out there—I had been to a homesite!
So imagine my surprise several years ago when on a trip to Mansfield (woohoo, another homesite!) I met a group of women who were real LIW experts. Aside from giving me a bit of a complex, I was awed and inspired to listen to discussions about Laura’s real life vs. the events in the books. I say “listen” because I quickly discovered that I had little to add to the party. But that didn’t matter because I learned so much and was inspired to go home and research my little heart out.
I experienced that same awe when attending LauraPalooza 2010. For 4 days I was surrounded by people who loved LIW as much as I did and many who knew so much more than I did. Each and every day was a banquet of Laura facts and fascinating tidbits. Questions I had often wondered about, as well as some I hadn’t even considered, were being answered with each presentation. Each meal became a discussion as we each shared our Laura perspective with new friends.
The inspiration that I drew from LauraPalooza 2010 prompted me to plan a long-anticipated, but always deferred, trip to visit all the homesites with my husband just a month after returning home from the conference. The experience of the conference and the trip has led me to continue work on a couple of Laura research projects of my own. I’m hoping that LauraPalooza 2012 will inspire me to actually finish so that I may present them at the next conference in 2015.
I urge each of you to attend LauraPalooza 2012 and find your own inspiration. Remember, registration will close this week – Thursday, May 31! Please don’t miss out. Who knows where it might lead you?