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Turnout for Laura Ingalls Wilder birthday triples expectations

There was a fire in the fireplace and a china shepherdess on the mantel during the laura Ingalls Wilder birthday celebration at the wayside cabin near Pepin Saturday, Feb. 4. Here, a mother reads Little House in the Big Woods to her young son. (Photo courtesy of Kitty Latané) 1 / 4
Jim Duden gave sleigh rides at the Laura Ingalls Wilder wayside cabin near Pepin Saturday, Feb. 4. There were refreshments and activities inside the cabin. (Photo courtesy of Kitty Latané)2 / 4
Barbecue and birthday cake were served at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Museum in Pepin Saturday, Feb. 4, in honor of her 150th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Mel Tinney)3 / 4
Children love playing with the miniature log cabin and furnishings at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Museum in Pepin. (Photo courtesy of Mel Tinney)4 / 4

PEPIN -- Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 150th birthday party Saturday, Feb. 4 was quite a hit. Organizers estimate 300 to 400 people attended; one couple drove from Oklahoma City for the event.

Festivities took place at the author’s birthsite in rural Pepin and at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society’s museum in the village of Pepin.

“People came early and stayed all day, and everyone was smiling,” said organizer Kitty Latané. “When the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society of Pepin met to plan the party to celebrate the famous author’s 150th birthday, they thought of all the blizzards and cold snaps that they have been experienced the first week of February over the years.

“They decided that maybe 100 people would venture out into the country to visit the unheated log cabin and the museum in town, if they held the celebration on a Saturday rather than the actual birthday, Feb. 7.”

Clearly, they were wrong.

The celebration was simple, with cake and sloppy Joes at the museum, where Dave Zahn played the pump organ as entertainment, and a fire in the fireplace at the cabin with treats and activities including sleigh rides.

“Though there was a bitter wind up at the wayside cabin, guests cheerfully stood in line waiting for their turn for a sleigh ride with Jim Duden,” Latané said. “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society was delighted by the good attendance.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born Feb. 7, 1867 in a cabin where the wayside cabin now stands. Her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was set in the Pepin area, and includes a chapter in which her family visited the village of Pepin. Wilder went on to write eight more “Little House” books, and the popular television series “Little House on the Prairie” was based on her stories.

Submitted by Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society

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