LUBBOCK, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — The following is a press release from the National Ranching Heritage Center:

What began four decades ago with a few hundred visitors now attracts thousands of area residents and requires about 200 volunteers as the National Ranching Heritage Center at Texas Tech University celebrates its 43rd Annual Candlelight at the Ranch from 6:30 to 9 p.m. December 10 and 11.

Holiday scenes will be recreated in 16 historic structures such as the 1838 El Capote Log Cabin, 1886 XIT Las Escarbadas Division Headquarters, 1888 Matador Half-Dugout and the 1909 Queen-Anne style Barton House. Structures built before electricity will be lit as much as possible with only lanterns, fireplaces and campfires, all of which require volunteers to be trained in fire safety.

More than 5,000 luminarias will line the pathways of the 19-acre historic park. The annual family-friendly event is free to the public with a minimum $5 suggested donation per family. Pathways are wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Saundra Wimberley, a first-grade teacher at Crestview Elementary in Frenship, will once again be in the 1890 Bairfield Schoolhouse with her own Crestview students dressed in period clothing. Wimberley has been bringing her students to participate in Candlelight for 20 years “because this experience is so rich for my students,” she said.

Wimberley is a 1981 graduate of Frenship High School, where she was first introduced to the Ranching Heritage Center by her history teacher, John Franklin. To prepare her own students to reenact scenes from a 19th century one-room schoolhouse, Wimberley teaches a series of history lessons at Crestview 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.”

Many community and campus organizations as well as musical groups will welcome guests to Candlelight at the Ranch. Visitors can purchase refreshments in the decorated 1908 Four Sixes Barn 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 promptly at 9:30 p.m.

Visitors who come on Friday night will have the added advantage of walking to the nearby Texas Tech International Cultural Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to participate in celebrating German holiday traditions.

The National Ranching Heritage Center is located adjacent to the Texas Tech University campus at 3121 Fourth St. For more information, call 806-742-0498 or view

(Press release from the National Ranching Heritage Center)