In the late 1970s, when Errol Steffen graduated from Walnut Grove High School, a project was being developed that would have a lasting impact on the community and on him as well.
“I was born and raised in Walnut Grove,” said the owner of Steffen Electric, adding he has lived in the rural Redwood County community his entire life.
During those final years of the decade known as the 70s, the community started the annual “Fragments of a Dream,” pageant, and Steffen has been part of the pageant from the start.
“I had some friends who were involved in the first pageant committee,” Steffen said, adding they ap-proached him about getting involved. “They were in need of cast members for the first performance in 1978.
Having just graduated from high school, Steffen did not have much theater experience, explaining he was more focused on athletics than fine arts in school.
Nonetheless, he tried out and was given the role of Reverend Alden in the first show, and since then Steffen has been in every show.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said, admitting there is a lot of work that goes into the pageant each year, too.
Over the years, Steffen has played various roles, but the role he has settled into over time is that of Charles Ingalls. In fact, he has played the patriarch of the family for 22 straight years.
Every year Steffen goes to the tryouts, and every year for the past two decades plus he has given the same role.
Steffen is OK with that.
He said it is a lot easier when you already know the lines from year to year.
While Steffen said he enjoys playing the part of Charles, he would like to be able to play all of the parts possible before he decides he has done the show long enough. Of course, he has not committed to calling it quits just yet.
Beyond taking the stage, Steffen also is involved with the technical side of the show, as he helps to set up the sound system making sure all of that is running.
“I think that part of it has been what really keeps me interested from year to year,” Steffen said.
The pageant is being performed the next three weekends with performances Friday and Saturday nights (July 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27) starting at 9 p.m. The gates open for each performance at 7 p.m. Admission for the pageant is $12 for general seating and $14 for reserved seats, and each night from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. a meal is served at the Walnut Grove Community Center.
More information about tickets can be found online at the Walnut Grove Web site at www.walnutgrove.org.
Page 2 of 2 - In addition, each Saturday there is a family festival taking place in the Walnut Grove city park.
The public is invited to travel to Walnut Grove during the next few weekends to take in the pageant and everything else that is taking place in the community.
“It’s great that we can have something like this each year in a small community like ours,” said Steffen.