Friends Amphitheater Project

Join the Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve as we embark on our first major capital improvement project. The Pankowski Friends Amphitheater will provide a beautiful outdoor space for educational programming and special performances.

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Conceptual design by Rettler Corporation (click to view larger PDF)

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 will coordinate the construction. Alliiance architects in Minneapolis developed designs for the unique stage area with a flared roof. Ellis Construction has been selected as the primary contractor to build the amphitheater.

Stage design by Alliiance (click to view larger PDF)

Why an Amphitheater?

The biannual Candlelight Hike Festivals sponsored by the Friends have continued to grow in popularity. In fall of 2018, a record 3,700 people attended! As a result, we've outgrown our small campfire ring area where UWSP students perform character programs. A professionally designed amphitheater will blend into the landscape, serve as a focal point for the visitor center area, and provide a better audience experience. It will also create opportunities for new campus and community partnerships.

This project is being 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.

Estimated Cost and Timeline

The amphitheater project will cost about $270,000 to complete. A groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of construction was held on September 7, 2018. The excavation, stone seating, concrete, trail surfacing, and stage structure are underway and will be completed by June 30, 2019. The second phase, which includes electricity, lights, storage cabinet, audio system, and native plantings, will take place during the summer of 2019. A grand opening is planned for September.

Donating to the Project

A special thank you to all who have already donated! As of May 2019, we have received over 90 separate donations and grants totaling $260,000, which includes a $65,000 gift from founders, Dallas and Edith Pankowski.

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).

Click here to see our current list of donors.

Your generous gift will help us to complete all phases of this meaningful outdoor program space for the campus and community.

Donations of any size are welcome and will be acknowledged on the Friends website and newsletter. Donors who contribute $1,000 or more will also have their names inscribed on a stone plaque installed near the amphitheater. At the $10,000 level and above, donors can choose an image or logo next to their name. See the sign template to the right.

Donor Levels

  • Donors: $1-$999 (recognized on website and newsletter)
  • Supporters: $1,000-$4,999 (name on stone plaque)
  • Sponsors: $5,000-$9,999 (name on stone plaque)
  • Partners: $10,000-$19,999 (name and image/logo on plaque)
  • Patrons: $20,000-$39,999 (name and image/logo on plaque)
  • Founders: $40,000 and above (name and image/logo on plaque)

The Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity. Donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law as provided in IRS 170(c)(3).

For more information about the project, please contact Jerry Lineberger, President, Friends of Schmeeckle Reserve at

Donate by Mail or In Person

A check is the preferred choice for donations, which saves the Friends a credit card processing fee of 2.2%. Download and print the Friends Amphitheater Donation Form, fill it out, and send it by mail or drop it off at the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center.

Donate Online

To donate online with a credit card, use the form below. Payments are securely processed through PayPal.