The sandhill cranes are thriving at the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, as are families of foxes. Ducks, birds, wildflowers, deer and all kinds of other flora and fauna have found a home in this 1,200-acre pocket of protected naturalness located at Kimball Junction, near Park City.
"It's a place that nurtures the spirit of everyone who visits it," says Annette Herman Harder, executive director of the center.
The preserve started some 18 years ago, with the purchase of a 200-acre farm, and has grown with new additions over the years. About six months ago, "we gave ourselves to Utah State University," says Herman Harder, and they are very excited to be part of that larger educational community, she says.
To celebrate the new partnership and raise funds for continued support, Swaner and USU are presenting an event called "Back in the Saddle," which will take place Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Gray Barron Ranch, overlooking the preserve in Park City.
The cornerstone of the evening will be an equestrian show, put on by Sage Creek Equestrian in Heber, featuring music composed by Kurt Bestor and played by the American Festival Orchestra conducted by Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of Arts at USU.
The production was choreographed by Sage Creek's Donnette Hicks, who has created a Wild West Show for the national Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and will feature 14 horses from the equestrian center.
"It's a symphony of poetry intertwined with equine movement that will leave the audience touched, moved and inspired," says Herman Harder. "It's a fabulous event."
Internationally known trainer Jim Hicks and his Friesian stallion, Rembrandt, will be part of the show. Also appearing will be the No. 1 gypsy stallion in the nation, I'm The Lion's Share.
"These are powerful and beautiful animals," says Jessop. "I'm excited to be part of this unique blending of animals and music. It will be a truly exceptional evening in a gorgeous setting. It's great to be working with Kurt Bestor again and to bring him together with the talents of USU students and members of the orchestra."
Also included on the program will be music performed by students, including a string quartet, saxophone quartet and a jazz trio.
The evening includes a dinner catered by Culinary Crafts, which will be followed by dancing to the Joe Muscolino Band.
"It will be a very cool, very unique event that will benefit important preservation and conservation efforts," says Herman Harder.
Tickets for "Back in the Saddle" are $200 per person. Call 888-653-6246 or e-mail email@example.com. The event starts with a mix-and-mingle at 5:30 p.m.