My name is Annika Angelo. I am from a small town in northern Wisconsin named Phillips, and my family has always had a fantastic time in Pepin at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days. When I was seven, my family made our first three-hour trip to Pepin. This was ten years ago. The wonderful John and Jeanie Nelson took us under their wings, blessing us with shelter, food, and fun at their cabin we all called "The Pink House" for the following six years. I competed in the Little Laura Contest all four years I was able to, and finally, at age eleven, I won Little Laura. Little did I know that this contest was just the start of my passion to learn about our past.
Flash forward to this year, 2017. I competed for the title of Miss Czech-Slovak Wisconsin State Queen at the Phillips Czech-Slovak Festival this June, and I was blessed to win. However, the title is much more than simply a title. As queen, I travel to various festivals around both Wisconsin and other states to encourage this generation to become engaged with the past. The Czech-Slovak Festival, along with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Days, is a wonderful opportunity for girls of any age to explore more about their past and ancestors. Since both of the festivals in Phillips and Pepin are so close to my heart, I knew I wanted to combine the events in some way.
After speaking with the wonderful contest director, she was overjoyed to have me read the questions on stage to the girls competing for Little Laura this year. It was a blessing being on the other side of the contest and watching the girls' excitement about their past. Pepin surely has a beautiful community, with every single person banding together to keep the memory of Laura and her adventures alive. The past is such an important part of our lives. And with that, thank you. May we continue to remember our history and celebrate our ancestors.