WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     walnut grove — Cindy and Amy Van Dorsten had their hands full Saturday afternoon at the Family Festival with 43 Lauras and nine Nellies showing up for the final Laura and Nellie Look-a-Like contest.

    With eleven “Little House on the Prairie” stars in Walnut Grove for various functions including autograph sessions at the Wilder Museum, the city park and a down town location, there were plenty of Laura and Nellie fans, Saturday afternoon seeking autographs and participating in the activities in the park, and visiting the Wilder Museum and Gift Shop.



    After all the contestants were registered, at 3:00 p.m. emcee Amy Van Dorsten called for all of the contestants to gather under the canopy for instructions as well as taking group pictures.

    After interviewing all of the contestants on their knowledge of the Little House books, their costumes, and their poise, the judges selected eight Lauras and eight Nellies.

    Then the  Lauras and Nellies were paired with one another and given a short script from On the Banks of Plum Creek to perform. After they all had performed the judges made their final decision selecting Josie Puchatschek of Collinsville, Illinois as the Laura Look-a-Like. Emily Thornton of South Bend, Indiana was named the Nellie Look-a-Like.

    For eleven year old Thornton it was her first trip to Walnut Grove, she came with her parents, Jon and Kathy Thornton. Before coming to Walnut Grove they had stopped at Pepin, Wisconsin to see the museum there and the cabin in the big woods where the Wilder's lived before moving  to Walnut Grove.

    One of the high lights for Emily was getting to meet the real Nellie at the autograph sessions. She was really neat, she said. I really enjoyed going to see the dugout site and the museum and gift shop.

    On Sunday she and her family were heading  for DeSmet to take in that Ingall’s site.

    When  asked why she chose to be a Nellie, she said, “well I have blonde hair, and she is my favorite character.”

    Ten year old Josie Puchatschek of Collinsville, Illinois, was in Walnut Grove for her second time. She came with her parents Carson and Jill.

    She had attended the pageant the night before, and said “I really loved Laura and Nellie in  the pageant.” She liked the scene with Laura’s party by the creek and dugout where Nellie falls in the creek.

    She also enjoyed seeing the actual dugout, the museum, and the stars. Josie said, “I liked everything.”

    On their way back home she says they would be stopping at Pepin, WI, and Mansfield, Missouri, sites where Laura had lived.