WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Walnut Grove — Numbers are down from last year, but no one knows exactly why. Speculation includes lingering affects from the recession, or gas prices. The final week was good with 871 seeing the pageant Friday evening, and Saturday night had the largest crowd of the three week run with 1051. Average attendance was 891 per night.
One has to take into consideration that last years numbers were over 2,300 more than this year. But the larger turnouts were probably due to having two of the Little House stars making appearances. Also there were 23 tour busses that showed up for one of the performances, All in all that likely accounts for the difference since there were no special events this year.
One thing for sure, the pageant weekends had one of the best runs for nice weather, which made it comfortable for those involved and those attending all of the events.
In the 36 year history there has only been three performances that were rained out. The last rainout was in 2000. There were a few performances that were performed in rain or partial rain.
Wilder Museum director Amy Ankrum said she noticed that activity at the museum had been slower this year. With less attendance there also seemed to be fewer visitors to the Family Festival. But the Laura and Nellie Look-a-Like Contest had very good attendance each week.
Family Festival third week
The Family Festival made its final run last Saturday with cooler than normal weather under partly cloudy skies.
At noon the Minnesota Square Dancers performed and taught volunteers how to square dance three times during the day. Following that Dave Doubler and his Civil War Troops did Civil War reenactments thoughout the day.
At 3:00 p.m. Cindy Van Dorsten and her daughter Amy conducted the Laura and Nellie Contest. Amy interviewed all of the contestants which were judged by three judges — Lori Johnson. Jesse James, and Julie Danielowski. After tallying the scores the field was narrowed to six Lauras and four Nellies.
Then the Lauras and Nellies paired off to perform skits based on their characters. Again the judges’ scores were tabulated and two sisters were named for the Laura and Nellie winners.
For the first time anyone can remember there has never been two sisters winning the contest. If that was unusual enough the two girls were born and live in Taipey, Taiwan.
Their parents are Peter Stanley and Leanne Rainbow. They are both teachers in the American School in Taipey.
Laura winner, eight year old Erin Stanley Rainbow is going into third grade. Her sister Maddie, the Nellie winner, is 10 years old and going into fifth grade.
The family has been in the states since June 9 visiting relatives on the east coast. They currently are on a road trip in the midwest and have visited several of the Wilder sites including Pepin, WI, De Smet, SD, Burr Oak, IA and Rocky Ridge.
The girls have not watched the TV series, but have the whole series on DVD which they have been watching the past couple of years.
The two have been enjoying their time in Walnut Grove, and as avid crafters they really enjoyed making corn husk dolls.
That evening the girls attended the pageant which they were really looking forward to seeing.
When they return to Minneapolis they will be flying to California where they will be flower girls at relatives wedding.
Of course beside the entertainment the Family Festival also had many interactive activities for the kids and plenty of demonstrations for the adults to watch. As always there were numerous food stands serving many types of food and beverages.
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