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The Laura Ingles Wilder Pageant

The Marketing Director of the Wilder Pageant contacted SMAC to design a marketing plan that identifies the most appropriate marketing activities for the Wilder Pageant in an effort to properly allocate funds and improve pageant attendance, which has been decreasing over the past several years. “The Wilder Pageant is a family-oriented outdoor drama based on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Walnut Grove, whose writings provided the inspiration for TV's 'Little House on the Prairie.' The pageant is presented every July on the banks of Plum Creek, west of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. It [offers] a live performance each night with all characters from the Walnut Grove area.“ The pageant's goal is to inform visitors of the history of the area so that “they may have a deeper appreciation of the joys and hardships that challenged our ancestors when settling the prairie.“

Executive Summary

The results of this study indicate that there is strong support for the overall concept of the Laura Ingles Wilder Pageant and its place in activities conducted in southwest Minnesota. The focus group and survey responses suggested changes that would enhance the pageant, including a minor name change, additional activities to be conducted in concert with the play and expansion and annual changes to the play's content. Many of the respondents are repeat attendees and have indicated a loss of interest based on the content never changing.

The Wilder event has a future with some marketing emphasis and modifications to the traditional delivery of the event.


  • Develop additional attractions to complement attendance during the play.
  • Conduct additional research to determine a name configuration that embraces new activities and eliminates the word, “Pageant.“
  • Expand the content of the play to embrace additional aspects of Laura's life experiences.
  • Consider scheduling the performances earlier in the day to reduce the mosquito population.


  • Many residents attend community activities during the year throughout the area.
  • The Pageant needs broader appeal to attract entire families to the event.
  • The term, “Pageant“ evokes connotations of either a beauty pageant or a talent competition.
  • It is important that activities continue to educate attendees on the history of the area while raising money for local needs.
  • Past years' popularity was based in large measure on the television series, “Little House on the Prairie.“
  • Newer generations are not familiar with the books or the television series.
  • Repetitive viewing of the Pageant creates a level of disinterest for attendance in subsequent years.
  • Mosquitoes and bugs are the major detraction of attendees.

This information along with a detail of findings section was all given to the client in the form of a written report. A PowerPoint report was presented to the Wilder Pageant Board of Directors.

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