|Director||Mike L Washburn|
Thanksgiving Point is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit farm, garden, and museum complex that draws upon the natural world to cultivate transformative family learning in Lehi, Utah. The nonprofit organization features the Museum of Ancient Life, Farm Country, and the Thanksgiving Point Gardens. Other attractions include dining at Harvest and Tower Deli, and shopping at Emporium, and health and wellness facilities at Brick Canvas. Thanksgiving Point also holds several popular public events such as the Tulip Festival, Eat Like a Pilgrim, and Cornbelly's Corn Maze. Approximately 1.9 million people visited Thanksgiving Point in 2012.
Thanksgiving Point was founded in 1996 by Alan and Karen Ashton.
Alan Ashton co-founded software company WordPerfect with Bruce Bastian in Provo, Utah in 1979. The company's financial success gave the Ashtons a desire to give something back to the community. On February 14, 1995, the Ashtons purchased land in Lehi, Utah that was the site of the historic Fox Family Farm. Although initially planned as a place for their family to ride horses and care for farm animals, the goal became to create a destination for the community to enjoy nature and culture. Thanksgiving Point has since become a center of community engagement for more than 1.9 million annual visitors from all 50 states and around the world.
Agricultural practices of the area were memorialized in Farm Country and ancient dinosaur fossils were collected for the Museum of Ancient Life. Golf, shopping, and dining were added for guest leisure and to provide additional sources of revenue for the property.
Thanksgiving Point Gardens
Opened to the public in 1997, the master plan for Thanksgiving Point Gardens was developed with Salt Lake City landscape architect Leonard Grassli. The gardens are approximately 55 acres and include 15 different theme gardens, including a replica of the garden described in Frances Hodgson Burnett's book The Secret Garden. There are approximately 4.5 miles of walking trails.
Community horticulture courses are offered by Utah State University master gardener volunteers. Commonly offered courses include square foot gardening and perennial plant landscape design. The gardens educate about water-wise gardening techniques and operate a vast water reclamation system through its Monet Pond and waterfall.
Popular public events include the Tulip Festival in April, which features more than 250,000 tulips each spring. Other popular signature events include Eat Like a Pilgrim, Cornbelly's Corn Maze, and Holiday Lights.
Children's Discovery Garden
The Children's Discovery Garden is part of Thanksgiving Point Gardens. It is an educational area designed to teach youth about the natural environment. The garden includes two child-size vegetative mazes, an eco-pond, and replica of Timpanogos Cave.
Thanksgiving Point Golf Course
Designed by pro golfer Johnny Miller, the Thanksgiving Point Golf Course is the largest golf club in Utah at 7,728 yards (7,066 m) long and more than 200 acres (0.81 km2). The course opened to the public in 1997 and it is host to the annual Champion's Challenge. While the course was built by and is still owned by Thanksgiving Point, it is operated and managed by Vanguard Golf Management.
Museum of Ancient Life
The Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point houses a sizable collection of ancient fossils, skeletons, minerals, and rocks. Open since 2000, the most notable of the museum's collection are its dinosaur skeletons. In fact, the museum has the largest collection of mounted dinosaur skeletons in the world (60). The Museum of Ancient Life has been called "the Taj Mahal of dinosaur museums." It features an interactive methodology in its exhibit design which includes more than 60 hands-on displays. These include an erosion table where visitors experiment with the effects of water on sand and a hands-on fossil dig.
Farm Country aims to teach an increasingly urban world about the origins of the food supply. Guests to Farm Country can participate in live cow-milking demonstrations, interact with traditional farm animals, and learn about the modern farmer.
Dining and retail
Thanksgiving Point includes shopping and dining options including Emporium, Garden Path Greenhouse, Harvest Restaurant, Tower Deli, Trellis Café, and more.
Thanksgiving Point offers public events year round. Examples include Eat Like a Pilgrim, which is a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving, where the feast is prepared and served like the actual feast as close as possible, including a ban on forks. Holiday Lights features a drive-through light display with 1 million twinkling lights, holiday music, and a series of Christmas displays. Each spring from April to mid-May, Thanksgiving Point Gardens host the region's only Tulip Festival. A number of concerts are also held in the Waterfall Amphitheatre. Private events such as weddings, parties, and corporate events are held in conference and meeting rooms throughout the property.
Museum of Natural Curiosity
Thanksgiving Point's newest experience will be the Museum of Natural Curiosity--Utah's newest children's museum opening in spring 2014. The new museum will feature five exhibit areas: Rainforest, Waterworks, Kidopolis, Children's Discovery Garden, and Traveling Exhibits. The 45,000 square foot building will also include a five acre outdoor component. As of May 2013, $3.4 million is still needed to fund the museum's interior exhibits and to reach the total budget of $27 million for the Museum of Natural Curiosity.