National Ability Center’s Barn Party fundraiser returns

Tickets for the National Ability Center’s annual Barn Party are on sale now. The event, which raises funds for its equestrian programs, will include a dinner, live music, a mechanical bull, an auction and a children’s area.
Photo by Photo by Missy Gresen

The National Ability Center’s annual Barn Party fundraiser will return to its pre-COVID glory.

The event, which raises funds for the nonprofit’s equestrian programming and celebrates the staff, volunteers and successes of program participants, will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on June 4. Registration is now open by visiting, said Caitlin Bognaski, senior development and events manager.

“We held this event last year, but it was at reduced capacity. We are delighted to be back to pre-pandemic attendance figures,” she said. “We plan to host 550 people , and it will be exciting to have so many people back.”

The evening will include dinner, live music, a mechanical bull, auction, saloon and more, Bognaski said.

“It’s the same format as years past, and we’ll have kids’ activities like we did last year in our hub,” she said. “These activities will include a petting zoo, a photo booth and other child-friendly activities. Afterwards, live music, dinner and the live auction will take place in the barn.

One of the biggest draws of the holiday is the live auction, which includes a desert excursion with NAC Equine Resource Manager Jan Drake, a firefighter barbecue, where local firefighters will prepare barbecues at the winners, an NAC experience package and a trip to Coronado, according to Bognaski.

“I think we will have eight live auction lots in total,” she said.

The barn party will also include an online auction — a Pedego e-bike, according to Bognaski.

“We will also have opportunity drawings for various gift baskets,” she said. “And people who can’t attend the fundraiser can still sponsor a horse and rider or make a general equestrian donation.”

Donations can be made by visiting

All funds raised will benefit the NAC’s equestrian programming, including hippotherapy, equine-assisted learning and adaptive riding. It costs the NAC $205,000 a year to feed, house and care for the horses in the program, Bognaski said.

“We are the only PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) certified program in the state of Utah,” she said. “And it’s amazing for us to be able to see the changes in people, whether they have a physical disability or a mental health issue, when they take part in these programs. For more than 30 years, the National Ability Center horseback riding program has helped countless people of all abilities and their families, and we are pleased to be able to offer it.

The National Ability Center has found it difficult to maintain equestrian programming during the coronavirus pandemic, Bognaski said.

“It was because we had to maintain a safe proximity between the participants and the instructors,” she said. “So it will be exciting to see the benefits again as the program expands as we emerge from COVID-19.”

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