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“Little House on the Prairie” cast members take river cruise with fans in La Crosse



The La Crosse Queen rides the Mississippi River on May 12, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

People around the world may know a bit about Wisconsin and Minnesota from reading the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, or from watching the TV show “Little House on the Prairie.”

This year marks five decades since the Michael Landon series began on NBC, and many folks came Sunday to La Crosse to take a river cruise with actors who appeared on the TV show.

Fans of “Little House on the Prairie” mingle with series stars on the La Crosse Queen riverboat on May 12, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

Donna Ellenbecker and her husband live in the West Bend area, but made the trip to La Crosse for this event.

“It’s pretty neat to see people that I saw on TV, growing up,” Donna saud, “and it’s pretty neat to be able to talk to them and introduce ourselves, and they all seem very kind and nice and welcoming.”

Among the cast members who took the river cruises was Dean Butler, who played Laura’s Ingalls’ husband Almanzo Wilder.

Butler said the series about Wisconsin and Minnesota in the frontier 1800s drew a large number of fans in the 1970s — a decade better known for entertainment such as “Star Wars.”

He played Almanzo on Little House on the Priarie. Actor Dean Butler took the Delta Queen cruise in La Crosse on May 12, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

“We were old when we were new,” Butler told WIZM. “We were never in fashion. It was a world apart always, and I think people have loved stepping into that world apart.”

Actors took two afternoon cruises on Sunday.

The Pepin area was one place the real Ingalls family called home, and that town had cast reunion events on Friday and Saturday, before the cruises in La Crosse.

More events are planned around the country for the 50th anniversary of Little House on the Prairie, including planned trips to the East Coast and the Midwest.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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