LIW DOC – Amazing Weekend In De Smet

What an amazing weekend we’ve had in De Smet, SD. It started with rain and snow on Friday and transformed into beautiful sunshine and cloudless skies on Sunday and Monday.

Over a four-day period we did recreations from multiple periods in Laura’s life — from childhood right up to her marriage to Almanzo Wilder. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my “Laura” friends Marian Cramer and Dr. Orval Van Deest, who oversaw the selection of thirty people from De Smet and its surrounding communities, who generously gave of themselves to be Laura, Mary, Carrie, Grace, Caroline and Charles Ingalls and of course Almanzo Wilder…they were the Boast’s and the Masters’, Mrs. Brewster, Cap Garland, Nellie Olsen/Stella Gilbert and Reverend Brown. ¬†They gave of themselves through long hours as we shot moment after moment from Laura’s LittIe House books. As I watched them all in their costumes I was genuinely moved knowing that each of them, in their own way have embraced Laura’s books and her legacy, as have millions and millions of people all over the world. I am not a particularly religious person but I can’t help but feel blessed by all these people and their willingness trust me and be there to help tell Laura’s story.

You couldn’t do this without the places to shoot. The Sullivan family (Tim, Joan, and their daughter Anne) at The Ingall’s Homestead and Cheryl Palmlund at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society provided all the locations, the costumes, and props, horses, wagons, and carriages that made it all work.

All these people put themselves in front of our camera and our director of photography, Derrick Robinson. As he did for me in Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, Derrick got the shots. We didn’t plan to record a lot of dialog, but when we did Jeremy Chambers was right there to do it…he was also our grip and good humor man. Still photographer Derek Cecil came in from Madison, SD on Saturday and Sunday. He took great pictures of action going on in front of and behind the camera…he also lent a hand with equipment as the hours went on. Derrick, Jeremy and Derek are can-do guys…

We’ll finish here in De Smet today, but our LIW journey continues…in Walnut Grove and then for the next several months back in the editing room. I’ll keep you informed.


6 Responses to “LIW DOC – Amazing Weekend In De Smet”

  1. Martha Says:

    Just one word, Dean – AWESOME !!!

  2. Marilyn Says:

    It is so cool to hear you speak of your visits to these sites. Over the past 2 summers I have travelled to each of the sites where Laura lived. This summer we went to De Smet, Walnut Grove and Pepin after being at the LHOP cast reunion in Keystone, SD. Keep up the great work Dean. We are all looking forward to the fruits of your labour of love for Laura. When it’s done, where will it be available for purchase?
    Keep the Legacy alive my friend.
    Diva Marilyn

  3. Carrie F Says:

    I’ve got goosebumps!

  4. perry (pa) anderson sr. Says:

    Well Dean, what a weekend it was . My wife gave me a tongue lashing for not getting a picture of you with my two boys and me, but you seemed to be always busy except for the brief time you took a little time to eat. Thanks for letting us participate in your 10 year project that you are finally going to be able to complete. I am sure the documentary will turn out absolutley fantastic due to the passion and degree of professionalism that you and your crew displayed. I am sure in doing this type of labor of love, the journey is at least as important as the destination. My family and I look forward to experiencing the final results. As Bob Hope used to say “Thanks for the memories”. Best wishes, Perry Anderson

  5. Lorrie Rumpf Says:


    I’m glad to hear that the weather keeps improving the further you head west. I too enjoyed very much my visit to DeSmet this past summer and it’s because of people like you have spoken of, that made my vacation turn out that way. We were greeted with kindness and respect every place we stopped, but that sure wouldn’t have been good for business had they not. Our tour guide at the homested site was amazing and very well educated on Laura’s history. My only disappointment was that the Fuller store was closed on Labor day and I missed out on a great shopping opportunity.

    You must be getting tired and starting to miss home. I wonder if Katherine still knows what you look like? Have a safe rest of your journey and stay dry and warm because as you know the weather here in the midwest is sooooo unpredictable. Wait another hour and it can change.

    Best wishes,

  6. Martha Says:

    You didn’t tell about Spring Valley and Burr Oak – what did you do there and what did you see ?
    …and what about Walnut Grove ?
    Please tell us everything !

Leave a Reply