An event for spider lovers and for those who may not be fans of arachnids was held Friday evening in Gage Park.

"A Night with Spiders" was hosted by Dustin Wilgers, a natural sciences professor at McPherson College.

During the event, children and families had an opportunity to learn about spiders and hold a tarantula that Wilgers brought. After dark, participants searched the park for wolf spiders, using head lamps and flashlights.

About 40 people attended the event, which took place from 8 to 10 p.m.

Wilgers said he has held the event in about 10 other cities across Kansas and will be in Kansas City on Saturday night.

"I wanted to share some of the fascination I had with spiders and kind of ease the fears that are easily propagated with spiders and break that cycle of fear," Wilgers said.

Wilgers said he had a fear of spiders until he interacted with them and realized they weren't as dangerous as people made them out to be.

Jason Fizell, of Topeka, is afraid of spiders but brought his 7-year old daughter to the event.

Fizell said he liked that the event was hands-on and held outdoors, as opposed to learning in a classroom.

"It's a lot better to be learning where the spiders actually are and seeing them in nature," Fizell said.

Wilgers said he hoped the event would help people to be less afraid of spiders and would spark an excitement in kids so they would want to go home and explore their own yards for spiders.

He is the author of a children's book called "Savanna Spider, Super Scientist, Goes to School."