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July 25, 2012
2012 Pageant attendance hit 7,651
Little House star Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson, wowed her fans in final weekend of the Wilder Pageant
WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- Walnut Grove — You would have to go back to 2003 to top attendance of this year’s
Wilder Pageant when the pageant had 7,811 in attendance. The final weekend this year put the pageant over the top for attendance with a total of 7,651. For Friday night’s performance 1,042 people showed up, and Saturday night 1,659 were on hand for the final performance for this year.
In the 35 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. Possibly the only hiccup came last Saturday night when rain and severe weather threatened the final act.
Director Bill Richards said he spent some hectic moments on the phone with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, trying to get updates on the weather.
He said, “we ended up extending the intermission for an extra half hour. We were concerned mostly with lightning so we advised people they should wait in their cars. The storm skirted north of Highway 14 about a mile and a half north of the site. People did get wet from the shower that went through, so we handed out a few towels and got the second act going.”
“All considered, over-all we were Hot! literally and figuratively,” Richards said. “The cast did a super job throughout the run, especially when you consider the sticky conditions most nights,” he said. “We had a lot of positive feedback from the visitors.”
Errol Steffen who plays Pa Ingalls said, “I was very pleased with how things went and was very happy with the increase in attendance.”
Wilder Museum director Amy Ankrum said, “We had a very good run during the pageant. Having Charlotte and Alison here really helped. We had a really big day this past Sunday, with Alison sticking around to sign autographs.”
Family Festival third week
When Alison Arngrim took the stage Saturday afternoon at the Family Festival she said, “It’s Hot!” “Hello I am Alison Arngrim or as most of you know me the evil Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie.”
After talking a bit about her first two visits to Walnut Grove in 1992 and 2010, she opened up a question and answer period for about an hour and a half.
Arngrim was asked, Did you eat a lot of candy during the show? She replied, I did, but not any of the candy from the Oleson’s Store set, because it was sprayed with bug repellent.
Arngrim was asked how she got the part of Nellie? She said when she was about 11 years old she tried out for the part in front of Michael Landon and several others. The first thing she was asked was if she had read any of the Wilder books, and she said she had not.
She did not get the part of Laura or Mary, but when she read for Nellie, Michael Landon asked her to read it again. She asked if she should change anything and he said no, don’t change a thing. Arngrim said, “they could hardly stop from laughing when I read it again.”
“A couple days later I was notified that I got the part and had to report the following Tuesday for costumes,” she said.
She was asked about the dresses she wore in the show? The first year of the series I wore four different dresses — which was kind of funny, as I was always more of TomBoy wearing jeans and sneakers,” she laughed.
She was asked about when they realized the show was a hit. “We were all shocked that it ran for seven seasons. We thought when it ended that would be it. But then when we started getting fan mail from around the world, in the early nineties we began to realize it was a big deal,” she mused.
She talked about the closeness of all the characters. “We were really like a family, and we still are a close knit group,” she said. “We are shocked how the show goes on and continues to be such an influence on people around the world.”
She was asked if she would like to go on Dancing With the Stars? She talked about her close friend, Melissa Gilbert, being on there, after some of the problems she had, Arngrim said she would have to think about it. She said there was one time when Melissa was upside down and her dress was down showing her very pretty underwear for a few seconds. “At 50 years old, I don’t know if I really want to end up showing my drawers to the whole world,” she chuckled.
When asked how Willie was, Arngrim replied, “he was a lot like the real Willie! “He never read the scripts — when asked why, he said, “I like to be surprised when I see it on TV.”
She was asked about the episode where Laura pushed her down the hill in the wheel chair, if she did the scene herself? She said, “it was one of my favorite episodes, they used a double for the steep part of the scene, and the flip into the pond. They filmed me on a much less steep hill and edited me coming up from the water.”
When she was asked if she had fun being mean? She replied, “I got paid to be awful, In one scene I had to break all kinds of things in the room in a fit of rage — normally we were asked to be very careful on the set because there were a lot of antiques, so it was great to get paid to be nasty.
After the Q and A, Arngrim spent another hour and a half signing autographs. Arngrim signed autographs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the museum and at the pageant site.
Beside the usual food and activities, there were performances by Joel Schaan and Scott Devlon on acoustic Guitar. Also the Lucio Family Dance Troupe performed Native American Dance and History.
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