Wilder Life in DeSmet, South Dakota

“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography”from Laura Ingalls, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, re-introduces readers to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions around the globe. It’s a grittier version of life on the prairie and a bestseller for The South Dakota Historical Press.

DeSMet SD Aug 13 150Being a forever fan of her “Little House” book series and needing to satisfy my curiosity, Ken and I headed to DeSmet, South Dakota. Each summer on this frontier, one of Laura’s books comes alive on stage in the setting where the stories took place. We missed the actual theatrical production, but what we did see and experience was spectacular.

Our first stop was at the Ingalls Homestead. DeSMet SD Aug 13 140One watches a short video before heading outdoors to experience Laura’s life on the prairie. Visitors take a covered wagon ride to the one-room school houseDeSMet SD Aug 13 084 where children can outfit themselves in pinafores and bonnets  or straw hats and be taught a school lesson by a local resident who plays the part well. Children and adults delight in making jump ropes and corn cob dolls and touring the many buildings on site. We spent nearly four hours visiting the site, vowing to make a return visit someday, especially if blessed with grandchildren.

DeSMet SD Aug 13 146An added bonus on our visit was the Plein Air Paint Out. All over the area, including at the Homestead, artists with easels were painting scenery and willing to engage in conversation while doing so.  What a treat!DeSMet SD Aug 13 158

We spent the night at The Prairie House Manor Bed & Breakfast.

DeSMet SD Aug 13 166And ended our night with a drive to Arlington, SD to enjoy a nice dinner at 1481 Grille. The next morning after a tasty home cooked breakfast, we did a walking tour of downtown DeSmet and then discovered Lake Thompson while leaving the area.

This little town on the prairie was a perfect overnight getaway. So pack your bags and head to DeSmet to experience the Wilder Life.

Copyright. July 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

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