The Little House on the Prairie exhibit is celebrating 50 years

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Some members of the “Little House on the Prairie” cast haven't seen each other since the TV show ended in 1983.

That's fine, and neither are their fans.

More than 18,000 people gathered for the Little House on the Prairie cast reunion and festival celebrating the show's 50th anniversary at a park in Simi Valley, California, not far from Big Sky Ranch where much of the series was filmed. They learned to churn butter, blacksmith, and use a washboard. They toured a replica of the Ingalls home, Oleson's Mercantile, and the one-room school house.

But mostly they came to see actors they liked.

These were not ordinary fans, but those wearing custom jerseys (“In Nellis' world, be Laura.”) and bounced Head covers And Calico dresses. They carried books, posters, old lunch boxes and aprons to sign. Iced coffee outsells beer. They paid $665 for a photo with the actors.

They stood in lines — sometimes for more than five hours — for a chance to meet their favorites and take selfies. They thanked the stars for being a big part of their childhood.

Most people wanted to see Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura; Karen Grassle who played Ma/Caroline Ingalls; Or Alison Arngrim who played Nellie Oleson. Some cast members appeared at a smaller tribute event, but this was the first time most of them had been together.

The three-day festival celebrated the show's pilot episode, which aired as a movie on March 30, 1974, on NBC. The full season began that fall. Created by Michael Landon and based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the show's reunion attracted people from all over the country, with many coming from France and Sweden. Landon, who directed and starred in the series, died in 1991. Several other cast members have died, including Victor French (Mr. Edwards) in 1989, Richard Ball (Mr. Oleson) in 2014, and Catherine MacGregor (Mrs. Oleson). . ) in 2018

Two famous actors, Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) and Matt Laborieu (Albert), were not there. (Real Housewives fans: Neither did Kyle Richards, who played Alicia.) But that didn't stop fans from posting about adult twins Wendi Lou Lee and Brenda Turnbaugh, who appeared on the show when they were toddlers.

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“It's like a big family reunion,” Melissa Gilbert says.

As part of the 50th anniversary, there are dozens of events across the country, including Arngrim's all-female show, “Confessions of a Prairie Whore.”

You can stream “Little House on the Prairie” on select networks including Freevee, Amazon Prime, and Peacock.

Watch the “Little House” reunion festival. See fans and groups from the “Little House on the Prairie” 50th Anniversary Festival.

Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Gilbert played Laura for nine seasons, growing from a little girl with pigtails to a married mother. She has starred in films and television series, appeared on Dancing with the Stars, written two memoirs, served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and acted in plays and musicals.

Gilbert launched Modern Prairie, a lifestyle site, with Nicole Haas, in 2022. The site features lessons ranging from coping with grief to flower arranging as well as products made by women and from women-owned businesses.

Gilbert (59 years old) is married to actor and director Timothy Busfield.

more: How 'Little House on the Prairie' star Melissa Gilbert shaped a generation of women

Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls, Massachusetts)

“My favorite show is the pilot. When we were doing it, we were all in a similar situation to what a family was in. We didn't know what it was going to be like, we didn't know how to do, we didn't know each other, we were learning how to bond… in the mud, in the snow “I always felt that the actual experience we had helped make the pilot feel authentic,” says Grassl, 82.

Rachel Lindsay Greenbush and Sydney Greenbush (Carrie)

Sydney Greenbush, 53, has not returned to Big Sky Ranch since she left the show. “It's like you go to your childhood home and you haven't lived there for a long time, and some familiarity comes back,” she says.

Her twin sister, Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, who also played Carrie, married on the farm years ago. She says returning to Big Sky has given her all the feels: “It's like bringing back a little piece of me.”

Alison Arngrim (Nelly Oleson)

Arngrim62 years old, authored a best-selling book, “Confessions of a Prairie Whore” (A must-read for Little House fans) He turned the book into a one-woman show.

Jonathan Gilbert (Willie Oleson)

Jonathan Gilbert, Melissa Gilbert's younger brother, has lived a private life for the past 40 years since leaving “Little House.”

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“I've been on a complete spiritual journey for probably 20 years, worked in finance on Wall Street, and lived in Manhattan for a long time,” says Gilbert, 56. “But at the end of the day, there's nothing better than acting with the Little House crew. Of all the things, it feels more like life, which is weird because I spent the whole time after Little House trying to figure out how to live. What I didn't really realize was that I “I was already home.”

Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder)

Dean Butler, 67, is releasing a book this summer called “Prairie Man.”

He described his writing routine: “Every morning at five in the morning he would rise before sunrise, sit at the dining room table, and every day for two hours.”

Wendy Lou Lee and Brenda Turnbaugh (Baby Grace Ingalls)

Twins Wendy Lou Lee and Brenda Turnbaugh, 46, played Grace Ingalls.

Lucy Lee Flippin (Eliza Jane Wilder)

Lucy Lee Flippen, 80, spoke about how she got into character, and said the setting on the farm helped her. But the fashion really did it. “They make you walk differently and stand differently,” she says.

Jennifer Donati (Baby Rose Wilder)

Jennifer and Michelle Steven (Rose Wilder)

The 43-year-old twins played Rose Wilder. “I'm so happy to see so many fans,” Jennifer Stephen said.

Patrick Laborieu (Andrew Garvey)

Patrick Laborieu, 58, said one of his favorite memories was when filming at MGM Studios with guest star Ray Bolger from “The Wizard of Oz.” “On the ground was this piece of film history,” he says: The Yellow Brick Road. His brother Matt Laboureaux played Albert Ingalls on the show.

Linwood Bomer (Adam Kendall)

Linwood Bomer, 68, made a hugely popular show based on his life called Malcolm in the Middle. He is the founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors Healing ca, a non-profit organization that provides free medical, dental, and vision care. He donated all the money fans paid for autographs and photos to charity.

Kitty Lister (Hester Sue Terhune)

Kitty Lister, 89, signed some of her CDs for fans and sang at the reunion worship service. “You don't know how much it means to me to see you,” Kitty says. “I've always liked people who like me.”

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Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle)

Many asked Charlotte Stewart to pose in a replica of the school house where she played the teacher, Miss Beadle. Stewart, 83, brought along her 15-year-old poodle, which was a hit with fans. She also sold lemon verbena perfume and was famous for wearing it on the show.

Leslie Landon (Etta Bloom)

Two of Michael Landon's children, Leslie Landon Matthews, 61, and Michael Landon Jr., 59, attended the meeting.

“When we pulled up, we didn't know, there might be a line, it's all the way around the corner. 'Oh my God, that was unbelievable,'” says Landon Jr. “And it completely rekindled our hearts for the show and the love of the show. thank you for that.”

Jonathan Kovacs (Wild Boy)

Jonathan Kovacs (54 years old) said that he was happy to meet such a large number of fans. His son served as an ASL interpreter and greets fans.

Brian Bart (Karl Sanderson Edwards)

Brian Bart, 62, played Mr Edwards' son.

David Friedman (Jason Carter)

David Friedman, 53 years old, played the role of Jason Carter, and he stopped acting after childhood.

Pamela Rylance (Sarah Carter)

Pamela Roylance, 71, helped plan the reunion. She said she was surprised by the fans' “kindness and stories.”

Victor French Jr. (son of Victor French who played Mr. Edwards)

Victor French, who played Mr. Edwards, died in 1989. His son came to see us. Many fans embraced him and asked him to sing the song his father made famous: “Old Dan Tucker.”

Bonnie Bartlett (Grace Edwards)

At 94, Bonnie Bartlett has perhaps the longest career of any cast member. I have worked for over 70 years. Many may remember her when she played the role of the mother in the movie “Twins.”

Where can I watch all seasons of Little House on the Prairie?

You can watch “Little House on the Prairie” on Freevee, Amazon Prime, and Peacock, and purchase episodes on Apple TV.

Where will the 'Little House' 50th reunion be held in 2024?

While the cast celebrated their 50th reunion in Simi Valley in March, there are several events planned across the country including in connecticoR, Kansas, PennsylvaniaAnd Tennessee. Several cast members will be in attendance.

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