In gorgeous weather with the scent of burning prairie smoke filling the air, area residents emerged from a long winter to enjoy the annual open house at Tuttle Creek Lake on Saturday.
Visitors ran in a “Zombie 5K,” took nature walks, threw tomahawks and shot arrows as the campground was open free to the public.
The archery and tomahawk throwing seemed to catch a lot of peoples’ attention.
“I think these types of obstacles they really draw a lot of people,” Olga Kreck said while watching her family throw tomahawks.
“My daughter is really enjoying the archery part,” Kreck said, suggesting that the girl might take it up more seriously.
Kaw River regional supervisor Tony Reitz said hatchet throwing, where tomahawks are simply chucked at a target, was one of the most popular activities of the day.
“I think it’s just the simple things [like hatchet throwing] that really make a difference,” he said.
And though the zombies in the 5K run were not in makeup, the race was made up of “survivors” and “zombies” — where survivors were given a head start and zombies were trying to catch up and pull flags off the survivors.
“I think if they really dressed it up next year, it would really bring out a lot of people,” Kreck said.
Participants seemed especially enthusiastic to be outside in Saturday’s nearly perfect weather, particularly considering this year’s harsh Kansas winter.
“It beats being inside, especially after the winter we’ve had,” Reitz said. “People are really anxious to get outside. Cabin fever is really bad this year.”
Park manager and open house organizer Todd Lovin said the event was a way for people to see what the park had to offer and get people out into nature.
He said the park right now has an eagle’s nest that nature walkers could see.
“We like to have fun at the park and that’s what parks are for,” Lovin said.
The archery section also featured a crossbow this year, because that style of hunting is now legal in archery season, Lovin said.
Previously, crossbows had only been considered legal during firearm season.
Other families drifted toward the children’s archery section, where kids could shoot various targets — including a dinosaur, a skunk and a fish for an interesting sort of practice.
“Seriously, this is a lot of fun and it attracts all different ages — I mean, from the little kiddos on up to us grownups,” Kreck said.