Ozark Outdoors

Wilder Days will transport you to a beloved author’s time and place

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Laura's life after Amanzo died

The interior of the new $15 million Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum at Mansfield reflects years of collecting and preservation of relics from the family’s 60 years living on Rocky Ridge Farm.

If the history and heritage of the Ozarks fascinates you, Wilder Days on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17 in Mansfield, might just be your ticket back in time on several levels. Wilder lived on Rocky Ridge Farm just east of Mansfield in Wright County for 60 years, from 1896 to the time of her death in 1957. After some hard-scrabble times, the Wilders transformed the acreage into a large, successful poultry, dairy, and fruit farm on the outskirts of town.

Wilder Days combines a parade and music and dancing; sack races and a tug of war, food and a pie contest, story telling and sack races, a vintage car show, a 5K run/walk and even the Little Laura/Farmer Boy contest, all to celebrate the culture of the Ozarks.

Laura turned to writing the Little House on the Prairie series when she was 65. Her best-selling books turned into a television series that can still be seen daily, and there are still folks around Mansfield who remember Laura and Amanzo’s unassuming ways. (See Ozarks Living, April/May 2016).

The new $1.5 million Wilder Museum offers a remarkable testament to the community’s desire to honor and preserve her memory and contributions to American literature. Today, their unique 10-room farm house in on the National Register of Historic Places, and the home of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, which attracts thousands of visitors to Mansfield each year.Having opened in March, the museum is a 21st Century tribute to a way of life that still enriches the culture of the Ozarks. Located at 3068 Highway A, the museum’s web site is www.lauraingallswilderhome.com. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday. through Nov. 15.  Admission is $14 ($7 for children) Toll free: (877) 924.7126.

A complete schedule (subject to updates) is below:

Wilder Days Schedule

Friday Sept. 16

  • 7-9 a.m. -Vendor booth setup.
  • 1 p.m.: Opening Prayer Service
  • 1:30-3:30 p.m.: Live gospel music
  • 4-10 p.m.: Street Dance
  • 4-6 p.m.: Dalton Gang (Bluegrass Music)
  • 6-7 p.m.: Whetstone/David Richardson (Country Music)
  • 7:30 p.m.: “Laura’s Memories” outdoor play (City Park)
  • 7-10 p.m.: Southern Edge Band (Country/Country Rock Music)

Saturday, Sept. 17

  • 7:30 a.m.: Registration for the 5K Run/Walk at the AST Community Center
  • 8 a.m.: American Legion Breakfast (Legion Hall)
  • 8 a.m.: 5K Run/ Walk (Ann Short Turner Community Center)
  • 9 a.m.: Historical Society homemade pie and cobbler sale
  • 9 a.m.: Judy Wampler, Story Quilter, tells the story of Laura through her quilts (Home at Last Studio, west side of square)
  • 9 a.m.: Car show (All Day)
  • 9:30 a.m.: Pie Contest (Weaver Inn)
  • 9:30-11:30 a.m.: Lead Hill Players (Country Music)
  • 10 a.m.: Registration for Little Laura /Farmer Boy contest (entry forms available Sept. 16 and 17 at the Chamber of Commerce Tent or online at mansfieldmochamber.com)
  • 10 a.m.: Pie Contest Judging (Weaver Inn)
  • 10 a.m.: Sack Races
  • 10:30 a.m.: Judy Wampler, Story Quilter
  • 10:30 a.m.: “Laura’s Memories” outdoor play (Amphitheatre – City Park)
  • 11 a.m.: Turtle Races
  • 11 a.m.: Pie Eating Contest at the Gazebo
  • Noon: Judy Wampler, Story Quilter
  • 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.: Little Laura / Farmer Boy Contest
  • 1:30 p.m.: Whetstone/David Richardson
  • 2 p.m.: Parade lineup (School)
  • 2 p.m.: Tug of War
  • 3 p.m.: Parade
  • 4-6 p.m.: Centerline (Country)
  • 6-7 p.m.: Comedian Group
  • 7:30 p.m.: “Laura’s Memories (Amphitheatre –City Park)
  • 7-8:30 p.m.: Zach Williams (Contemporary Christian Music)

Sunday, Sept., 18

  • 10 a.m. – Community Church Service

All Day Activities:

Chamber of Commerce 50/50 Drawing, Silent Auction, transportation to and from the Wilder Home and Museum; Car Show, Children’s games (Saturday only) Ponies rides by Chasing Dreams Equine. Special Wilder Days, admission to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum is $10 for adults and $6 for children (6-17)

Note: All activities will take place on the Square with no admission fee unless otherwise noted. The Mansfield Area Chamber of Commerce tent will be set up at the front of the Square to assist with any questions or concerns.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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