A Weekend on the Prairie
June 1st, 2017 By Cindy Mason
Ever wish you could experience what it may have been like living and sleeping in a covered wagon - or how people lived that came west and homesteaded on the prairie? You can get a taste of this life in DeSmet at Ingalls Homestead. Ever since I heard they offer covered wagons to camp in, I knew I had to try it and it was a great excuse to spend some time with my young nieces.
There are so many engaging activities for kids at Ingalls Homestead. My nieces enjoyed them all: riding (and even driving) the horse drawn wagon and pony cart, learning in the one room school, making corn cob dolls and jump ropes, visiting the farm animals and playing with the kittens. There are calico aprons and bonnets available for those who want to dress the part too. Surprisingly, their favorite activity was doing wash the old fashioned way - with wash tubs and a wringer and hanging it up on clotheslines. They kept coming back to this activity over and over. They were even convinced that if they could do the wash at home that way it would be fun.
The Homestead is located on land that was homesteaded by the Ingalls so you see the actual Cottonwood trees they planted and there is a walking trail to Silver Lake.
The town of DeSmet is a great place to learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder and see where the Ingalls lived during the years they spent in South Dakota. The Memorial Society has preserved buildings that Laura talks about in her books including the Surveyor’s House, School House and the final home of Ma, Pa & Mary Ingalls in DeSmet as well as a large collection of Ingalls family artifacts. All of these are part of a guided tour. The original Loftus Store also still stands on Main Street.
Spending the night in a covered wagon and looking out over the open prairie was a unique and fun experience with some perks that people on wagon trains didn’t have, like modern bathroom and shower facilities. They also have a bunk house, tent and RV camping available.
Whether you camp all night on the prairie or just visit for the day, it’s a perfect getaway destination that’s educational and lots of fun!
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is held every year for 3 weekends in July. Scenes from Laura's life are presented in an outdoor theater.
For more info visit www.desmetpageant.org
There will be a celebration of Laura's 150th Birthday this year during one of those weekends - July 14-16. Actors from the "Little House on the Prairie" TV series will make live appearances plus authors and historians will have presentations about Laura's life.
For more info visit www.discoverlaura.org