The National Ranching Heritage Center’s Ranch Host company will pull back the curtains of time to recall traditions of Christmas in this region’s past from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the outdoor museum at 3121 Fourth St.
For the 39th annual Candlelight at the Ranch reenactment, guests from across the South Plains will be able to walk along pathways illuminated by 4,000 luminaria and some campfires, along with historic ranch buildings lighted by lanterns and fireplaces, according to Julie Hodges, Helen DeVitt Jones director of education.
“We regularly have totaled 10,000 visitors a year for this one event over the past decade,” she said.
Admission is free, though a donation of $5 per family has been suggested, and guests who would like reserved parking with early access at 6 p.m. may purchase tickets for $50 per carload by accessing the website of ranchingheritage.org/candlelight.
Hodges said Candlelight at the Ranch has become the signature event most associated with the National Ranching Heritage Center as visitors experience what Christmas may have been like on the prairie from 1780 to 1950.
Fifteen historic structures, including the 1838 El Capote Log Cabin, 1886 XIT Ranch headquarters, 1888 Matador Half-Dugout and 1909 Queen Anne-style Barton House, are highlights of the evenings.
The event requires the help of 150 volunteers each night, according to Hodges.
“It’s not just the living history volunteers that everyone sees dressed in period clothing, but it’s all the other people working behind the scenes,” she said.
The lighted pathways are wheelchair and stroller accessible, and guests will see cowboys camped out near their horses and brewing coffee over a campfire.
Visitors also will be given maps guiding them to Santa Claus in the Pitchfork Pavilion, and visitors can purchase refreshments in the decorated 6666 Barn and on the Campbell Patio. Brazos West will play Christmas music with a Texas swing.
A side adventure will be offered in the form of an earlier party beginning at 5 p.m. and continuing to 7 p.m. on Friday at the nearby International Cultural Center.
During that event, which is planned to present German Christmas traditions, a band will play and gingerbread cookies and sausage will be available.
Long entry lines have been eliminated by offering guests to enter through the front doors and proceed to the patio, where they can access park trails and buy kettle corn. Visitors are allowed to choose in what order they see the historic structures, and can take the lighted pathway of their choice.
Information also is available by visiting the website nrhc.ttu.edu and by calling (806) 742-0498.