The community Candlelight Hike
Festival took place on Nov. 2 at Schmeeckle Reserve and brought in a record
turnout of 900 participants, including students from campus and families from
semiannual festival has been held every fall and spring since the winter of
2005 and is free for the public to attend.
Megan Espe, the graduate assistant at Schmeeckle Reserve, helped organize the
“The event takes several weeks to prepare for. We choose the event theme,
design posters, market the event, gather supplies and buy food. The students in
the practicum course write their program script, make their own costumes and
rehearse many times. It all pays off during the main event,” Espe said.
The event is put on by Schmeeckle Reserve staff and volunteers. Schmeeckle
Reserve employs 45 to 50 work-study employees every semester.
staff puts out the torches and pumpkins on the trails, keeps the campfire going
and directs parking. The office staff greets people in the visitor center,
where they offer free snacks such as hot chocolate and popcorn, and tells them
about the evening’s activities.
CNR students in the environmental education and interpretation practicum plan
out and present the character campfire program and discovery stations.
“The event includes one-mile and half-mile torch-lit trails that weave through
the woods and wetlands. For the fall hike, Schmeeckle student employees carved
creative designs into dozens of pumpkins, and the lit jack-o’-lanterns were
placed along the trails,” Espe said.
Part of Schmeeckle Reserve’s mission is to serve the recreational needs of the
campus and community, and the Candlelight Hike Festival is an excellent way to
Another part of Schmeeckle’s mission is to provide education to the community
focusing on the natural and cultural history of central Wisconsin. The
Candlelight Hike Festivals provide opportunities for visitors to learn about
the natural world around them based on a theme.
a neat opportunity for visitors to walk torch-lit trails at night, and it’s a
very popular event for families, with something for everyone to enjoy. It’s
also a great opportunity for the students working and volunteering during the
event to interact with youngsters and parents and others from the community,”
Candlelight Hike Festival has a different theme. This fall’s theme was “night
during the evening, students in the environmental education and interpretation
practicum course presented a half-hour character program at the campfire ring.
The students dressed up as stars, planets and constellations for the campfire
program. They also had star and moon-shaped cookies for kids to decorate, comet
and constellation crafts, an astronaut training discovery station, and a
telescope for visitors to look through, assisted by UWSP astronomy students.
Candlelight Hike Festival is such a fun event because so many students, either
employees or volunteers, all pitch in to make it happen. It’s impossible to not
have a great time while painting kids’ faces, helping them decorate cookies,
playing a character at a campfire program or walking the lit trails,” Espe