National Ranching Heritage Center to Present
Candlelight at the Ranch, Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8
Experience the 34th annual Candlelight at the Ranch celebration Dec. 7 and 8 at the National Ranching Heritage Center. The museum and historical park at 3121 Fourth St. in Lubbock annually hosts the holiday event, where visitors walk down luminaria-lighted paths into Christmas scenes from life on the open prairie.
Some 8,000 people annually attend this living history holiday event, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. both nights. Admission is free, but a donation of $2 per family is appreciated.
Visitors to Candlelight at the Ranch will notice the incorporation of music into traditional features. This was made possible through the event partnership of Southcrest Baptist Church and Christian School with the National Ranching Heritage Center.
"The sounds of the season will greet visitors as they walk through the park," said Emily Wilkinson, Candlelight at the Ranch coordinator. "Carolers will be located in several buildings singing music that is appropriate to the specific structure they are located in. For example, Spanish lullabies will be sung at Los Corralitos, a lone rancher will sing in the 80 John Wallace House and a fiddle band will be playing for dancers in Las Escarbadas."
A chorus will entertain visitors in the Pitchfork Pavilion, a bell choir and harp will be in the main building, music will be played in the Four Sixes Barn and carolers will be walking the path, she added.
Jerry Newman and John Burke are coordinating the music portion of the Candlelight event. Members of different portions of the Southcrest Music Department and Christian School will be performing in several of the locations.
"The holidays were an important part of family life on the Plains, whether it meant gathering around the stove to pull taffy, stringing popcorn for the tree or enjoying carols and hymns around the fire," Wilkinson said. "Regardless if preparations for the winter were done together or alone, the thought of family was always at the center of the celebration."
Traditional activities throughout the museum and historical park include period-dressed volunteers re-enacting holiday preparations and celebrations from the late 1700s to mid 1900s. Events occur in such diverse structures as the train depot, a half-dugout, an XIT division headquarters building, the one-room schoolhouse, a Spanish compound and the two-story, 1909 Barton House.
Visitors will see re-creations of holiday meal preparations, tree decorating, making gingerbread houses, rehearsing for a school play and playing traditional holiday music on the piano. A chuck wagon will recall cold nights on the trail, as hot coffee boils on an open fire. In the refurbished Santa Fe Depot, holiday travelers wait for the train.
In the decorated Four Sixes Barn, children can write letters to Santa and mail them in the authentic post office set up for the occasion. There, visitors can also buy hot chocolate and cider and enjoy a candy cane compliments of the real Santa Claus.
Candlelight at the Ranch has continued to be a tradition
on the South Plains and the surrounding region because it is real. Visitors can
look through a door or window and get a glimpse of what came before us. They can
bring their children and grandchildren and let them see that Christmas was much
more than how many presents are under the tree. It was the comfort of being
together, being safe and celebrating the occasion however they could. For those
who were alone, it was a time to reflect and look forward to better times to
During Christmas, settlers and cowboys took from nature what they could find. Where evergreens were unavailable, other natural vegetation was substituted. In some cases, the only thing they had to decorate was a tumbleweed or cedar bush. Gifts and ornaments were fashioned from the land, and dinners of wild game replaced those obtained from a city butcher.
All of this will be depicted during Candlelight at the Ranch, Wilkinson said.
Cogdell's Store at the National Ranching Heritage Center will be open for shoppers in search of unique gift items.
Candlelight at the Ranch is free to the public, but a donation of $2 per family is appreciated. For additional information, contact Emily at (806) 742-0498 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our website at www.nrhc.ttu.edu.