Pankowski Friends Amphitheater

Pankowski Friends Amphitheater

Why an Amphitheater?

The biannual Candlelight Hike Festivals sponsored by the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve continue to grow in popularity. In fall of 2018, a record 3,700 people attended! As a result, the small campfire ring where UWSP students perform character programs was no longer adequate. As their first capital campaign, the Friends group decided to raise funding for a professionally designed amphitheater that would blend into the landscape, serve as a focal point, and provide a better audience experience. It would also create opportunities for new campus and community partnerships.

Amphitheater Design and Construction

The amphitheater is designed with sandstone seating for 200 people, a timber-frame stage with lighting and sound, and native landscaping to blend with the natural environment. It will serve as a unique outdoor venue for community programs, plays, concerts, and other performances. The Rettler Corporation in Stevens Point developed the site concept design, seating and landscaping plans, and coordinated the construction. Alliiance architects in Minneapolis developed designs for the unique stage area with a flared roof. Ellis Construction served as the primary contractor to build the amphitheater.

Stage design by Alliiance

Estimated Cost and Timeline

The total cost of the amphitheater project was $275,000. A Groundbreaking Ceremony for the first phase of construction was held on September 7, 2018. A Grand Opening Celebration was held September 13, 2019.

The amphitheater was funded entirely by generous donations through the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve, and will be given to the university upon completion. No state dollars are being used for the project.

Project Donors

A special thank you to the nearly 100 donors who made the Friends Amphitheater a reality! The amphitheater is named for Dallas and Edith Pankowski, who provided a $65,000 gift to kickstart the fundraising campaign.

Generous grants have also been provided by the Sentry Insurance Foundation ($50,000), the Community Parks Improvement Committee ($10,000), the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin ($7,000), the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism Development Grant ($5,000),  the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society ($5,000), and the Wisconsin Public Service Foundation ($5,000).

Donations are still being accepted to help install lighting and fund future programs and special events. Click here for more information about donating to the Friends.

The following individuals, families, and businesses have graciously donated funding toward the Friends Amphitheater project:


Dallas and Edith Pankowski
Sentry Insurance Foundation


Helen Busch, in memory of Bob Busch
Joseph and Charlene Jarabek
Jerry Lineberger, in memory of Susan Lineberger
Nancy Ross, in memory of John M. Ross
Community Parks Improvement Committee
Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve
Rettler Corporation


Michael and Beverly Gross
Mitzi and Bernie Hlavac
Jack and Cynny Porter
Kevin and Adelle Spaay, in honor of all Ella's patrons, 1974-2016
Seramur Family Foundation, Inc.

Timothy L. Taschwer Trust
Aldo Leopold Audubon Society
Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin
Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism Development Grant
Wisconsin Public Service Foundation


Samantha and David Birkenkamp, in memory of Susan Lineberger 
Jim, Sunshine, and Walden Buchholz
Mike and Pat Dombeck
Ken and Meg Erler
Bill and Kim Fisher
Kent and Sue Hall
Dave and Karen Henneghan
John and Dori Jury
Dan and Donna Marx
Steve, Anne, Tom, and John Okonek, in memory of Irene Okonek
Don and Tina Peters
Sheri, Tony, and Ben Rohde
Rick and Sharon Rothman
In memory of Duane E. Sherman
Richard and Diane Steffensen
Kathleen Taft
Chris and Kaila Thompson
Rick and Sarah Wilke
Kay Wohlbier, in memory of Carl T. Wohlbier
David and Cindy Worth
Noah and Andrea Zimmerman
Ron and Donna Zimmerman
American Family Insurance-James Check Agency

Delta Dental of Wisconsin
Plover Kiwanis Club
Shulfer's Sprinklers & Landscaping


Anton and Mary Beth Anday
Steve and Sue Bergin, in memory of Professor James Newman
Bill Berry and Nick Schultz, in memory of George and Jeanette Rogers
Dennis and Linda Brown
Jason Brown
Melanie Balsis
Judy Cable Anderson, in memory of John E. Anderson
Jim Canales

Jim and Barb DeWeerd

Barbara Dixson and Alan Smith
In honor of Leah Egan
Megan and Troy Espe
Steve Faber and Jackie Meyers
Jim and Madeleine Haine
Alan Haney
Geoffrey Harris
Jan and Kathy Hermann
Jack Hurrish and Joan Karlen
Gene and June Johnson
Lynne E. Kagelmann, in honor of Educators of Wisconsin
Phil and Penny Kallas
John and Patricia Kedrowski
Christine Koeller
Bob and Nancy Korth
John and Donna Koutre
Sue Kwarciany
Brenda Lackey and Cathy Scheder
Janet Langton
Michael and Janet LeClair
Kendra Liddicoat and Brian Barringer
Scott Maas
Stephen W. and Lynn M. Marquardt
Dianne Meyer, in honor of Cooper and Camden Thompson
Gary Nickel and Deborah Padgett, in memory of Susan Lineberger

Ron and Sharon Omernick, in memory of Stanley and Lillian Mijal
Mike and Linda Orella
Paul and Becky Otto
John and Dawn Porter, in honor of Jack and Cynny Porter
Wendy Porter and Steve Nyberg, in honor of Jack and Cynny Porter
Judy Ratkowski, in memory of Doug Post
James Rogers
Timothy Roman
Kathryn Savonne
Susan Schlicht, in memory of Karl and Joan Williams
Susan and Alvin Schuller
Dan and Tina Sivek
Tully Smith

Dan Stephens
James and Susan Zach
Alliiance (in-kind gift)
GFWC Stevens Point Woman's Club
Lands' End
Torborg's Waupaca Lumber (in-kind gift)