Kathy Baxter jokes that the motto among fans of the Betsy-Tacy book series is, "I thought I was the only one."

So it's always a thrill when they come together for one of their occasional conventions. Next weekend's gathering in Mankato and Minneapolis will be the sixth since 1992.

Events begin next Thursday with tours of various sites in Minneapolis where Betsy "lived" within the pages of the books written by Maud Hart Lovelace. Then the action shifts to Lovelace's hometown of Mankato, which she called Deep Valley, for events through July 22.

Registration for the convention has closed, but there is a free and public event at the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, in the Elmer L. Andersen Library on the West Bank Campus, 222 21st Av. S., Minneapolis,

Betsy-Tacy artifacts will be displayed, and authors Heather Vogel Frederick and Amy Dolnick Rechner will discuss the various books they've written about the series. That event is from 1:15 to 3 p.m. July 19.

For more information, go to www.betsy-tacy society.org or www.maud hartlovelacesociety.com.

For readers, there is some cross-pollination between the Betsy-Tacy series and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the least of which is that Wilder's Walnut Grove and Plum Creek are about 80 miles west of Mankato.

The Wilder Pageant takes place in Walnut Grove the first three weekends in July with 9 p.m. performances at a hillside amphitheater, the outdoor setting intended to help visitors gain "a deeper appreciation of the joys and hardships that challenged our ancestors when settling the prairie."

For information about the pageant, tickets and other Laura sites, visit www. walnutgrove.org.