When Melissa Gilber (Laura) runs up to the Olesons to tell them that her Pa is going to win the tug-of-war contest, notice that when she turns around and runs off again, she briefly bumps right into the gate, avoiding a potentially major wipe-out by dodging just in time. You will see also that Richard Bull (Nels Oleson) looks a little startled when he sees Gilbert do this, and then he smiles and laughs before continuing with his lines.
Notice that when Jim wins the log contest and is awarded his watch and blue ribbon, the sky is completely gray, and it's obvious that a thunderstorm is about to erupt any minute. However, in the very next scene, when Laura and Charles are talking, the sky is an immaculate blue, and the sun is beaming down.
After getting thrown in the mud during the tug-of-war contest, Charles and Nels allegedly go to "clean up," and in the next scene, they are completely dry and spotless, with clean clothes. It's pretty unlikely that they were able to get all the mud and gunk out of their hair that quickly, even if they took full baths. Those kinds of things can take a really long time to get rid of, sometimes days.
Notice how strange Mary, Willie, and the other children look as they are jump-roping. It almost looks like half slow motion, half regular motion.
Actually, Charles' team did NOT win the tug-o-war competition. Nels was pulled into the mud, but the competition was not called. Everyone stopped to laugh, but that didn't mean the competition was over. The mistake the Charles' team made was that instead of focusing, they stopped to laugh.
In the log chopping contest, Reverend Alden announced beforehand that the winners from the first and second heat would automatically face off in the third heat for the championship. Mr. Tyler won the first heat, then chopped in the second and lost to Charles. Since he won the first heat, he did not need to chop in the second, and it was foolish of him to waste valuable energy that could have helped him in the championship heat.
Many viewers can argue that Nels and Harriet Oleson's behavior during the three legged race was very ironic, given the fact that they seemed to "switch attitudes" with each other. When Harriet and Nellie lost the race, Nels was yelling at them, "You had a perfect chance to win! What happened?" and Harriet was like a little puppy, saying "Oh, for Heaven's sake! It's all right, we tried!" Usually, it is Harriet who acts aggressive, while Nels steps down.
The very first scene in this episode--which finds the Ingalls' dog Jack drinking from the creek and running back up to the house--was also used for the opening scene in Season 1's Country Girls. Even the background music is the exact same.
Caroline is very worried about Mrs. Oleson's entry in the pie baking contest, and both women are among the top three entrants. This contrasts to later references, for example "Second Spring" (Season 6), where Mrs. Oleson is a poor cook, and Nels handles these chores.
Charles: (to Laura after she loses contest) Winning's not the important thing. It's the competing, the having fun, right?
Laura: You had a borrowed ax until the end, and then you used your old one.
Charles: (smiles) You know, you're right.
Laura: Why, Pa?
Charles: Well, I'll tell you, Half-Pint, Mr. Tyler is a good man with a saw, but he's a lot older than I am. When you get older, you get tired more easily, just like you winning a race with a big head start. It doesn't mean anything when you have a head start.
Laura: It sure doesn't.
Charles: That's why I switched the axes, so it would be even between me and Mr. Tyler. Can you understand?
Laura: I suppose. Mr. Tyler sure is happy about winning.
Charles: No happier than I am about losing. (hugs her)
Jim: I would have gotten a lot more work done if I'd had someone other than a farmer on the other end of the saw.
Charles: (to Mr. Hanson) Your friend talks a lot better than he cuts.
Jim: Well, now, it's not your fault you're a farmer.
Charles: Well, I'm proud to be a farmer. As for running a cross cut, I'm as good as you ever were, and probably better.
Jim: That's pretty strong talk coming from a farmer boy.
Charles: Yeah, that's right.
Charles: You're strong as an ox, right?
Jim: Well, I reckon.
Charles: You like to work hard?
Jim: Hard's the only way I know to work.
Charles: Good. You've got all day to prove it.
Mary: (about losing the jump roping contest) If it had been anybody but Willie Oleson! I didn't even know he could jump rope.
Laura: Well, he's jumping all the time, but I've never seen him use a rope.
Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.
Look at actress Karen Grassle (Caroline)'s hair in the scene where she's rubbing linament oil on Charles' back. Her hair appears to be very dark brown, unlike her typically light brown shade. Granted, this is a first season episode, and Grassle wasn't graying yet, but seeing her with what appears to be long, dark hair is rather surprising.
Nellie wins the hoop-rolling contest, but the judge should have disqualified her early on. Before the contestants even round the first curve, Nellie can clearly be seen picking up her hoop and running with it in her hand for a distance of at least ten feet. Furthermore, if she truly did bump Laura's hoop as Laura claimed, the judges should have also noticed that.
One of the earliest episodes where the character of Harriet Olesen is used as comic relief, instead of a dark, rude, snobbish woman.