Following last year’s Wizarding Walk, the Lafayette County Literacy Council and other local organizations held the Hobbit Walk on Nov. 6 based around the “Lord of the Rings” series written by J. R. R. Tolkien.
“We wanted people to have some recognition either through the movies or through the book,” Outread and Education Coordinator Meghan Gallagher said. “‘Harry Potter’ was extremely popular as a book and also as a movie series so we knew people would recognize what it was, and we wanted to do something similar so we felt like ‘the Hobbit’ was a new challenge and fun.”
Activities at the walk included a hobbit run obstacle course, map making using Faulkner’s maps with the University Museum, poetry and riddle stations with the Art’s Council and the Public Library along with live Celtic music from The Oldways.
“This is just one of the ways that I think [Lafayette County-Oxford-University Reads Coalition] is promoting literacy in the community,” Director of Lafayette County Literacy Council Sarah McLellan said. “It’s a fun way to promote literacy by incorporating all of these different activities and all of these organizations coming together to do it.”
Oxford High School students that volunteered at the Hobbit Walk, such as senior Lily Mitchell, used this opportunity to get their service hours for clubs such as Beta and Anchor Club by volunteering to help out with some of the stations.
“[The walk] kind of indirectly promotes reading and learning, but also just a sense of a community and fun stuff for kids to do that gets them off of their phones and games and stuff and they can come and just play around and be kids and have a little fairy tale world,” Mitchell said. “I would have loved to do this as a kid, not going to lie. It’s pretty awesome.”
The walk was held at Avent Park. Kids of all ages were invited to join in on the festivities, but the activities are mainly directed toward younger kids according to Gallagher.
“Many of the activities are for that critical age for pre-K through third grade and encouraging families to read together and interact and talk about books so that their kids can be on grade level reading so that when they come to that third grade reading gate test, it’s a snap for them,” Gallagher said.
The kids that went to the walk were able to run around and be a part of Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-Earth while still being able to read and learn.
“It’s really rewarding for me,” Mitchell said. “I’m here for service hours, but I choose to do this because it’s fun getting to be a part of these kids’ childhoods. It just gets them outside and playing around, which I think is good.”
According to Gallagher, the walk will have a different theme next year but has not been decided on yet.
“Definitely don’t expect the Hobbit Walk next year,” Gallagher said. “People have been talking about the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ but there’s no telling what the groups are going to decide to do.”