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43° Annual Candlelight at the Ranch recreates Frontier Christmas

The 1908 Barton House has become one of the most popular attractions for Candlelight at the...
The 1908 Barton House has become one of the most popular attractions for Candlelight at the Ranch visitors during four decades of celebrating a pioneer Christmas. The National Ranching Heritage Center will host the annual family-friendly event from 6:30 to 9 p.m. December 10 and 11.(Photo by Shelby Schwartz)
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 4:52 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The National Ranching Heritage Center at Texas Tech University will celebrate its 43rd Annual Candlelight at the Ranch from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, December 10 and Saturday, December 11.

What began more than four decades ago with a few hundred visitors has grown to attract thousands of residents and requires the manpower of about 200 volunteers trained in fire safety.

Holiday scenes will be recreated in 16 historic structures that existed before electricity. The 1838 El Capote Log Cabin, along with the 1886 XIT Las Escarbadas Division Headquarters, the 1888 Matador Half-Dugout, and the 1909 Queen-Anne style Barton House will be lit with lanterns, fireplaces, and campfires.

Saundra Wimberley, a 1st-grade teacher at Crestview Elementary in Frenship, and her students will be dressed in period clothing at the 1890 Bairfield Schoolhouse. Wimberley and her students have been participating in the Candlelight event for the past 20 years “because this experience is so rich for my students,” she said. To prepare her students to reenact scenes from a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse, Wimberley teaches them about the first settlers to West Texas and their hardships and triumphs.

“Students begin to understand their own place in history after they’ve seen the past,” Wimberley said. “They’ve walked in the shoes of the children in our local history by being in that schoolhouse and having to act, dress, and talk as those children would have.”

Wimberley is a 1981 graduate of Frenship High School. She was first introduced to the Ranching Heritage Center by her history teacher, John Franklin.

More than 5,000 luminaries or small paper lanterns will line the pathways of the 19-acre historic park. They are wheelchair and stroller accessible. Along the way, visitors pass cowboys camped out near their horses, brewing their coffee over the campfire.

Visitors can choose in what order they want to see the historic structures, which lighted pathways they want to take.

Many community and campus organizations as well as musical groups will welcome guests to Candlelight at the Ranch. Visitors can purchase refreshments in the 1908 Four Sixes Barn and on the Campbell patio while they listen to Brazos West play Christmas music with a Texas swing.

Santa Claus will be receiving visitors in the Pitchfork Pavilion but will leave at 9:30 p.m.

Those who choose to visit on Friday night will walk to the nearby Texas Tech International Cultural Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:40 p.m. and may participate in celebrating German holiday traditions.

The National Ranching Heritage Center is located next to the Texas Tech University campus at 3121 Fourth St.

The annual family-friendly event is free to the public; nonetheless, a $5 donation is suggested per family.

For more information, you may call 806-742-0498 or click here.

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