TOWN OF EAGLE - For one week in July, Old World Wisconsin will transform into the World of Little House.
From July 22-30, journey back to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s "Little House in the Big Woods" as Old World Wisconsin celebrates the 150th anniversary of the beloved author's birth in Wisconsin.
Anna Altschwager, Old World assistant director of guest experiences, said that every year OWW carves out time to honor the author. She added that there is an overlap between OWW and "Laura" fans.
"Laura is a big part of Wisconsin history, and everyone loves her books," she said.
This year OWW is taking it up a notch with added elements over the course of nine days.
Activities mentioned in the Little House stories will come to life through fun, hands-on programs for the entire family.
From the moment you arrive and climb into the covered wagon, you’ll know it’s a day to celebrate all things Little House. Highlights include a chance to meet "Laura," as portrayed by actress Jessica Michna; an Ingalls family scavenger hunt; dress up like Ma, create a calling card; play traditional games that Laura or Almanzo Wilder would have played; and helping with Laura's chores.
Fans will feel like they are in Wilder's books. Altschwager said the books are rich in details, with the warmth of the fire, the feel of being out in the garden and the smells of the food. OWW takes those details and brings them to life, making visitors feel as if they are right there with Wilder.
"OWW is all about engaging the senses in storytelling. It is a natural fit," Altschwager said.
Altschwager explained that many people who are Wiler fans come to OWW to step into her world.
Through history, people see truths and connections to their own lives, Altschwager said, explaining that there are aspects of history that are relevant to people today.
Altschwager added that many visitors include intergenerational families.
There are grandparents who are now reading the books to their grandchildren. That leads to people sharing their own childhood stories, she said.
"History and stories are tools for living our best lives today and making our future as great as can be," she said.
Never too late to write your story
Wilder didn't start writing until she was in her 50s, according to Altschwager. Encouraged by her daughter to share her stories, Wilder bought several orange, spiral notebooks at the drugstore and hand wrote herher stories in them.
Altschwager explained that Wilder never went to school for writing. She was a teacher and farm wife. She did write a kitchen column for a local newspaper.
OWW visitors will feel and see the experience of the arrival of Laura's first book from her publisher as she sits in her kitchen.
Actress Jessica Michna will perform at OWW July 28-30, including several performances of her one-woman play, "Road to Little House."
This event is sponsored by Old World Foundation. Wisconsin Historical Society members receive free admission to Old World Wisconsin and all 12 sites.
The standard price of admission for Old World Wisconsin will apply all weekend: adults (18-64) $19; children (5-17) $10; seniors (65 and older) $16.
Fees include an all-day tram transportation pass. Parking is free. For more information and a full list of activities, visit www.oldworldwisconsin.org.