The Countdown to LauraPalooza 2015 has begun. Before we pack our bags and head to South Dakota for a weekend of education, celebration and fun, some of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy & Research Association board members are taking a look back—or forward—at some of the good times you can expect.
I’ve been to both LauraPalooza 2010 and 2012. I loved every minute of both conferences. I can honestly say, as someone who went in with what she thought was a fair bit of Laura-knowledge in her head, that no matter how much you think you know about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life, there’s more to know. At LauraPalooza you will learn more. In 2010, I dragged my husband my husband lovingly accompanied me and was one of the only men there. In 2012, my daughter Jamie lost the coin toss and came along for the ride, or wait, she did almost all the driving so technically I was along for the ride. Anyhow, since my man-of-few-words husband is not a good interviewee, I thought I’d ask my daughter just a few questions. She has never been as head over heels about Laura as I have (despite my best efforts). But I want to share how someone who just tagged along looked at the whole LauraPalooza experience.
Below are my questions to Jamie, her responses (she’s JW) and my responses to her responses (I’m LW):
Besides me reading the Little House books to you when you were very young, how old were you when you read them and why did you read them?
JW – 12? I read them because you paid me to read all the books. I read some of them again in 2008 or 2009 while I lived in Georgia. Then I read bits here and there a couple of years ago while working on your house and post card projects.
LW – Yes, it’s true. I paid Jamie to reread the whole series one summer. She’s always loved to read, but I couldn’t get her to love the Little House books the way that I did. I was glad that she read the series anyhow.
And the house and post card projects she mentions? One Christmas, Jamie searched out and ordered a model log cabin, family, furniture and all the little doo-dads to replicate one of Laura’s little houses for me. She also made a set of postcards with passages and illustrations from the Little House books. It did prepare her well for her LauraPalooza trip just a couple of years later.
Why did you go to LauraPalooza with me?
JW – It was a free trip? Just kidding! Actually, I did enjoy the books and I enjoy learning about Laura, her family, and the time period in which she lived. What better place to learn more than at an event filled with experts!
LW – I think it really was the free trip that was the original draw. But I did believe that Jamie truly would enjoy the experience with me.
What was your first impression of your first day meeting all the Laura-friends?
JW – First, it was nice to be able to meet so many of the people I’d heard so much about. Second, wow, some of these people are intense! 🙂
LW – But they are a great group of people, aren’t they? I’ve made who I now consider to be some of my closest friends through our mutual admiration of Laura Ingalls Wilder and getting to meet them at the first LauraPalooza 2010 and then seeing them again at the conference in 2012 is truly a highlight of my life.
Were you surprised at all the information there was to learn about Laura?
JW – Not really. There’s always more to learn about any topic! What did somewhat surprise me is exactly how in depth some of the research has been with regards to every aspect of Laura and the events she wrote about.
LW – I know! Isn’t it the coolest? You learned things you didn’t even know you needed to know, right? And Laura people have THE best collections of Laura-related items
Another cool thing about a LauraPalooza trip is (if you’re driving) inevitably being somewhere near one of Laura’s homesites. We stopped in Pepin on the way home, what was your favorite memory of that stop?
JW – Hmm…visiting the log cabin, going through the museum, seeing Lake Pepin, taking our pictures in the cutouts, and eating at The Pickle Factory.
LW – And laughing hysterically while we were taking those pictures, right? It was my second stop in Pepin. It was awesome.
What was your favorite memory of LauraPalooza?
JW – Meeting everyone and seeing how excited they all were to come together to learn more about Laura. Hey, I’m a teacher so I love to see people – no matter their age – who are excited about learning!
LW – My favorite memory was sharing it all with my daughter! And learning more new things about Laura and her life. And laughing. And talking Laura on the drive home.
What was your least favorite memory of LauraPalooza?
JW – Not being able to attend all of the sessions? Really, it’s was a great event, so I have no “least favorite” memories.
LW – I volunteered to help on a committee during the conference so missed a few sessions. I was happy to be able to be a part of helping make LauraPalooza 2012 a success. Jamie didn’t have to help, but as is typical of her, she jumped in and lent a big hand because she was needed. That’s just how she is.
Would you do it all over again?
JW – Sure!
LW – Me too!!!
Did it leave you with a better understanding of why your mom loves Laura Ingalls Wilder so much?
JW – Absolutely! Now, it’s my turn…when are we going to Monroeville, Alabama? 🙂
LW – Jamie loves To Kill a Mockingbird. When she’s willing to give me an all expenses paid trip to Monroeville, Alabama, I’m in! But I’m betting she’d come with me to another LauraPalooza in a heartbeat!
Laura Welser is a board member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. To learn more about LauraPalooza 2015 click here. We’ll see you in Brookings!