Celebrating Wayne County Heritage After Dark

Whether sharing a story around the campfire or stargazing at constellations, nearly half our lives are spent living under our pristine night skies. Capitol Reef National Park’s motto “half the park is after dark” reflects our heritage of outdoor activities after dark. For instance, people have been enjoying night hikes under our clear, starry skies for generations.

Night sky photographer Zolt Levay served as a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at Capitol Reef National Park as part of a collaborative program with the Entrada Institute. He states that he was “blown away by the fantastic geology, cultural history, and the spectacular night skies in Capitol Reef, which is one of the best places to experience a truly dark sky.” He shared that during his residency he created photographs that showed “spectacular landscapes with a dramatic backdrop of the Milky Way and star-filled sky.” His hope is that viewers understand “how important it is to protect locations such as Capitol Reef that allow people to experience awe-inspiring night skies and dramatic landscapes”.

During the after-school Spark Squad program, 4-H youth have been exploring the role of storytelling, campfires, and the night sky in the lives of native peoples, pioneers, cowboys, and others who lived in Wayne County long ago. They’re also learning about ways to preserve the heritage of dark skies for future generations.

On Wednesday April 3 at 6PM, a free community dinner will be held at the Wayne County Community Center in Bicknell. This event is intended for any member of the community who enjoys storytelling, campfires, and the night sky. You don’t need to be involved in 4-H to participate. The free event for all ages includes exhibits, a slide show, and storytelling experiences. Participants will be making dreamcatchers, star wheels, rattles, and night-friendly flashlights. We’ll also have the SKYDOME mobile planetarium available for kids and adults alike. Telescopes will be set up after the free dinner for night sky viewing. All these fun events are possible through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, along with the Entrada Institute and Wayne County USU Extension.

Do you have a knowledge of the night sky you’d like to share or a telescope you could set up? We’re looking for volunteers to share their passion of the night sky with others.

From Dave Covington who shared his chokecherry jam to Superintendent Sue Fritzke who brought information about the historic Fruita orchards, we’d like to thank all the volunteers who helped make the fruit and orchards themed dinner a success. We look forward to two more themes this spring including bees and quilts.

Contact Project Director Annette Lamb at info@entradainstitute.org with questions about this project. LIKE us at facebook.com/sparkinghumanities. – Annette Lamb

Photo of The Milky Way behind Pectol’s Pyramid from the Hickman Bridge Trail at Capitol Reef National Park. Courtesy of Zolt Levay, 2018 Artist-in-Residence.

Go to the Insider to read the published article.