Home videos document dates of visits to Wildlife Prairie Park as far back as 1984. Our three children were 10, 9, and 7 then and we frequented the park. I could possibly verify the specific year we joined although some 26 years of confirmed park patronage suffices.
We shared many good times watching the animals, walking trails, playing on the playground, checking out the gift shops, and of course, eating picnic lunches or dinners under the trees. My husband and I attended Pops on the Prairie performances, and for a while there were special dinners for members. We were always pleased with the perks of buying a family membership. Even when our kids were teens, we’d still visit the park, although not as often. But it was a good getaway and a great place for feeling more in touch with nature than what our backyard provided.
The park has been generous about donating admission tickets or package deals to not-for-profits to auction for fundraising endeavors. I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of the bid, and the even bigger thrill of securing great certificates or items while helping my favorite charities. Recently my husband and I enjoyed an overnight stay at the park compliments of a successful bid.
Now I’ve been in the park in early morning and throughout the day and evening, but never at night. It was darker than I expected although lights from two wedding receptions brightened the area considerably, making it possible to see the animals perhaps even past their usual bedtime. The music from those receptions provided an interesting contrast to the outdoor atmosphere.
My husband and I stayed in the Prairie Stables, and our accommodations were very comfortable. Yes, the room was air-conditioned, there was a coffee maker with packets of coffee for brewing, a television, and dorm size refrigerator. I liked staying in the park after the other visitors had gone home. Gave the stay a feeling of exclusiveness and rustic charm.
We had an outside sitting area in the back, and a larger sitting area in front. We enjoyed our Sunday morning beverages outside. After a walk and shower, we indulged in a bountiful array of both breakfast and luncheon foods at the Sunday brunch. (That is a separate charge from the overnight stay.)
The park is now officially called Wildlife Prairie State Park. The charm and educational components are still there, but funding is a huge issue. If the park were to close, it would be a huge loss to this area. The park provides an excellent opportunity for children and adults to step out of their typical environment and become aware of a world much bigger than what is seen on a daily basis.
While on our morning walk, we met two out of state families with young children enjoying a multi-night stay in the park’s train cabooses. They showed us their accommodations and said they have booked a stay for next year. How disappointing for them and others if the park cannot remain open.
Out of town trips are enjoyable, and so are visits to local attractions. The animals at Wildlife Prairie State Park would like to see you, and you’ll enjoy seeing them. Plan to visit soon!
For additional information about the park, go to www.wildlifeprairiestatepark.org.