By Diane Chase
My mother read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to me and I started the same tradition with my daughter. I thought as we read that we could duplicate the activities the Ingalls family was experiencing. Since we are not pioneers or living a homestead life I quickly realized that my attempt at a summer full of fun activities was getting complicated right from the start when “Pa” built a log cabin. We did collect sticks and attempt to notch them to comprise a log dollhouse. We eventually had to skip the house to continue to the story and enjoyed some homemade bread.
Most people have heard of the “Little House” books that preserved a personal account of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s frontier life. Translated into over 40 different languages, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series glimpses into a time that has disappeared but that clearly demonstrates how settlers like the Ingalls and Wilder families built our country.
The third book in the series, Farmer Boy, chronicles the childhood experiences of Laura’s husband Almanzo Wilder. From 1840 to 1875 the Wilders made Burke, NY (just outside of Malone) their home. Since 1987 the original homestead has been used as a museum and educational center.
As part of its annual Harvest Festival, the 84-acre farm/museum will be available for self-guided tours this September 24th. There are quite a few events that center around the Wilders as depicted in Farmer Boy as well as the preservation of New York rural life in the 1800s. Look forward to early American children’s games, an art activity, scarecrow-building contest and pumpkin painting. There will be live music, food, a Civil War Encampment and chapter readings from the book.
The Almanzo and Laura Wilder Association is a non-profit organization committed to restoring the 84-acre property as a historical site. The original house has been renovated and is claimed to be the only dwelling from the “Little House” books that is still in its original location. Other houses from the various Ingalls/Wilder frontier westward quests have either been moved or destroyed. The other outbuildings on this property are reproductions.
We will continue reading and experiencing homesteading from the pages of the books. Going to the Wilder Homestead is a wonderful opportunity to see a book come alive.
The Harvest Festival will take place September 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is reduced for that day only ($5 for adults and $3.00 for 6 -16, 5 and under are free). Regular admission and guided tours will be in place for the 25th For more information please call 518-483-1207 or on the web at www.almanzowilderfarm.com.
To get there from the town of Malone take Route 11 NE to Route 23 E. Take first right onto Donohue Road and turn right onto Stacy Road. The Wilder Farm will be on the left.
© Diane Chase, author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks (Your Four-Season Guide to Over 300 Activities) for the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Jay/Upper Jay, Wilmington, Keene/Keene Valley which is available online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the second guidebook in the four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.