Mountain Mayhem: Hay Bale Ball fundraiser for Smiling Goat Ranch | AspenTimes.com
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Mountain Mayhem: Hay Bale Ball fundraiser for Smiling Goat Ranch

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem
Aspen Fire chief Rick Balentine with SGR co-founder Sheryl Barto, who is holding a commissioned painting, which was gifted to the colonel by local artist Lex Lucious. Lt. Col. Dick Merritt holds his SGR plaque next to SGR co-founder Karl Harlon.
Patrick Badalian

The annual Hay Bale Ball benefit took place on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the charming barn and grounds of the Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum, set along the bike path in Aspen.

The event served as a fundraiser for Smiling Goat Ranch, the Carbondale-based nonprofit that helps humans heal through interactions with horses, goats, dogs and bunnies.

The afternoon served as a party with a purpose, featuring many of their animals in action. Guests watched demonstrations of sensory work on horses and interacted with the ranch’s small, social therapy animals. They heard testimonials from families and veterans who have been helped by their work.



Light bites from Hickory House were complemented by batched cocktails from Marble Distillery and varietals from Delicato Family Wines. 

The Aspen Fire Protection District led a procession of veterans, who rode in on Harleys to honor special guest and 87-year-old Lt. Col. Dick Merritt, a founding board member of the ranch. Merritt was honored for his contributions in starting the veterans’ program there and for the role he’ll continue in as an emeritus board member, an honorary title he earned in recognition of his outstanding service over the years. Smiling Goat Ranch founders Karl Hanlon and Sheryl Barto presented the colonel with a plaque and a horse painting commissioned for him.





The primary sponsors for the event included the Selz Foundation, Melony and Adam Lewis, Bender West Foundation, Slifer Smith & Frampton, Integrated Mountain Group, The Aspen Times, The Caine Family, Midland Clothing, the Flynn Family and Decorative Materials. Learn more at smilinggoatranch.com.

The beloved Lt. Col. Dick Merritt makes his way from the crowd to say a few words.
Patrick Badalian
Betsy Kahl of Austin, Texas explains sensory work to a guest.
Patrick Badalian
More than 25 motorcycles joined the procession to honor the colonel.
Patrick Badalian
The Aspen Fire Protection District leads the parade of veterans following on their Harleys in honor of Lt. Col. Dick Merritt.
Patrick Badalian
Tim Nieslanik of Carbondale was the man of the hour, providing the popular mechanical bull for kids of all ages.
Patrick Badalian
Navy veteran Nick Crandell who organized all the veterans on their Harleys, meets fellow vet Errol Doebler, a former Navy Seal.
Patrick Badalian
Daisy, one of SGR’s therapy goats, proudly flying his flag.
Patrick Badalian
Marissa Ostrich, a Colorado Mountain College student, and Adam Belsky from Austin, Texas are both cousins of SGR founder Sheryl Barto and the talented musicians who kicked off the event with their melodies.
Patrick Badalian
Katrina and Dylan Gallant’s son, Galileo, in his white cowboy hat, shares a testimonial about how SGR helps his autistic brother, Otto, shown sitting on his dad’s shoulders.
Patrick Badalian
Michelle Marlow of Ascent Events and her daughter, Payton, check in on the bar set up and sponsor thank you board.
Patrick Badalian

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