Monday, September 11, 2006

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Pepin

This weekend was our “family reunion” at LIW days. We try to go every year, not for the sales, but for the people. We have gotten to know many and they HAVE become family to us.

It now takes four hours to get from home to Pepin, and we came a different way than we used to take, when we lived at Historic Murphy’s Landing. This time we went through Wabasha, the famous town in “Grumpy Old Men” and “Grumpier Old Men.” We stopped at a scenic over-look to get a good shot of the Mississippi River before heading over to Wisconsin and Pepin, just upriver from the Wabasha crossing.

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Overlooking the Mississippi River

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Crossing the Mississippi to the Wisconsin side
Laura Ingalls Wilder Days celebrates the birthplace of Laura Ingalls. There is a reproduction cabin that visitors can go see. It is not on the spot that the original one was. The historians are unclear as to where that one was. The reproduction one is on a road that is easily accessible for guest to come and see. The town has a Laura look-alike, fiddler, story-telling and many other contests. There is also a parade on Sunday afternoon. The Traditional Craft area is at the city park, a small, narrow area that makes a perfect two-sided set-up with a “road” in the middle to walk down.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, got setup in the park and went to Tom’s house for the traditional pizza supper. Tom is a world-class blacksmith that lives and works in Pepin. He started the Traditional Craft section of the festival many years ago and began by inviting friends to come demonstrate. It is starting to really grow into a large affair. People bring beer and pay for frozen pizzas which Tom’s wife, Kitty, cooks in the oven. The gang arrives anytime after 7:00 at night, after their tents are set up and hang out until the last one decides to head to bed.

Saturday morning, people are still setting up, but guests start wandering though to see what’s going on. There are about twenty different demonstrations, anywhere from a flint napper to the Hilsgen family doing several styles of woodworking, candle dipping and weaving. We have a swamp willow basket maker (I did NOT get a basket this year), two blacksmiths with two different styles of smithing, many different woodworkers, two spinners (myself included) and a full kitchen with three (or more) cooks.

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Behind the scenes ... setting up

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The park is open to the public

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Tom's blacksmith set-up

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We were treated by pelicans flying overhead

The demonstrations run until about 5:30, when the potluck supper starts. Most people bring ingredients and the cooks do the cooking. This year we had chickens on a spit among many other dishes with ice cream (hand cranked) and apple crisp. All these were cooked (except the ice cream, of course) on a open fire.

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The cooks in the kitchen. Kitty is standing with her head upside down (sorry, Kitty!)
Then at 7:00 we light our lamps and have candlelight demonstrations and a bonfire and music until the late hours.

Sunday is Pancake Breakfast at the local elementary school. A lot of us gather and walk to the school, eat together and walk back. Another bonding of the gang goes on at this time. We start demonstrating at 11:00 but many people come earlier, so if we are ready, we begin early. We go until 4:00 or so, then tear down, say our goodbyes for another year and head home.

This year promised to be chilly, but ended up down-right COLD! I started out the weekend with a hint of a cold that went into a full-blown miserable one. Norm started his cold on Sunday afternoon and suffered his on the way home and today.

We had plenty of blankets, so we slept warm, but I had to bundle up with a blanket on top of my normally warm shawl to keep warm. I understand it stayed around 50º most of the day on Saturday and it started drizzling and raining on Sunday.

We took Peanut, but there wasn’t room for Goldie, so she stayed home and went to visit Candy, who took care of the chickens. Peanut is pretty smart and soon learned that when she was in the crate in the tent, she needed to “hunker down” and be quiet. The crate is a fold-down one that travels well; we covered it with a blanket to help keep her warm on the cold days. At night she slept in my bed, usually at the foot of it, under all the covers. Kept my feet warm as well as herself. There were times that I put her on my lap; she would nestle down under a blanket and most people would not even know she was there unless she put her head up and looked around.

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Peanut in the crate .. and not happy

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Wondering why "Daddy" isn't out of bed yet

We are very happy with the way that Peanut has fit into our family and the way she travels. Good choice on a nearly perfect dog for us! Norm, big softie, calls her “Pencil Nose.”

We got home late last night to find that Candy had put the chickens to bed, brought Goldie home and even collected our mail! Today was a non-day .. we got the essentials in from the truck, hung the wet canvas up to hopefully dry in the next few days, took cold pills and many naps. That’s about all we got done, so tomorrow is wash day, unpacking day, repacking to make sure things get put where they belong so we can find them for the next trip and getting back to a semi-normal life here at Ash Lane Farm.

I will put more pictures up tomorrow about the weekend.

It should be a beautiful day tomorrow; you have a beautiful day!

1 comment:

The Unusually Unsual Farmchick said...

Such a cute picture of her & Norm! I realy like that one.Hope both of you feel better soon. It seems to be that time of year for head colds here too....