IFS Lehi, Utah - Thanksgiving Point
For our series of virtual First Saturdays, every month we highlight unique venues and events that take place in the great state of Utah. Join us as we travel the state and visit some amazing places! For November, since it's the month of Thanksgiving in the US, we thought we'd visit Thanksgiving Point.
Thanksgiving Point was founded in 1995 by Karen Jackman Ashton and Alan C. Ashton. Alan Ashton co-founded the software company WordPerfect with Bruce Bastian in Provo, Utah in 1979. In 1994, WordPerfect was sold to Utah-based Novell for nearly a billion dollars. After the sale, Alan purchased farmland in Lehi, Utah, and gifted it to his wife Karen as a Valentine's Day gift on February 14, 1995.
They planned to build a community garden and farm experience. The name for the project, Thanksgiving Point, was chosen to express gratitude. Thanksgiving Point Institute registered as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1997.
The first venue to open to the public in 1996 was Farm Country. Farm Country's exhibits demonstrate the origins of the food supply in a working farm environment.
In 1997, Thanksgiving Gardens (renamed Ashton Gardens in 2016) partially opened to the public for its first season. In 2000, the gardens fully opened as a flagship 55-acre experience dedicated to offering the community a reflective and peaceful place.
In 2000, the Museum of Ancient Life opened with a travel-through-time dinosaur walk through a 30,000-square-foot venue.
The 45,000-square-foot Museum of Natural Curiosity opened in 2014. The family science museum offers four indoor galleries and a 3-acre garden gallery.
In 2019, Butterfly Biosphere opened as Utah's first insectarium. A 10,000-square-foot USDA-certified conservatory has a path through hundreds of exotic butterflies from around the world.
Thanksgiving Point also offers a variety of classes for both youth and adults on topics such as cooking, animal husbandry, robotics, gardening, fitness, arts and crafts, and glass-blowing.
Thanksgiving Point produces and holds events throughout the year. Examples include a spring tulip festival, a seasonal corn maze, a holiday lights experience called Luminaria, and other seasonal events.
Private social and corporate events such as weddings, parties, and corporate functions are held in conference and meeting rooms throughout Thanksgiving Point.