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Fossil festival is ‘bad to the bone’

By Staff
Attendees hail from far and wide
By GREG KATSKI
Staff Writer
AURORA — The Aurora Fossil Festival was in full-swing Saturday, as thousands crammed the town’s downtown streets. The festival, sponsored by the Aurora/Richland Township Chamber of Commerce, kicked off Friday evening and lasts until this afternoon. Festival director Kathy Henries expects between 12,000 and 15,000 people to visit Aurora during the three-day celebration, most of which are out-of-towners.
The festival is of great benefit to the local chamber of commerce, according to Henries.
Friday’s festivities were highlighted by a street dance featuring The Johnny Dollar Band.
Saturday, hailed as the centerpiece of the three-day festival, featured a parade on Main Street, PCS Phosphate bus tours and an exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution.
The bus tours were free of charge and packed throughout the day. By 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, 15 buses, seating about 50 people each, had been through the tour.
The Smithsonian Institution was on-hand at the Special Fossil Exhibits showcase at the Aurora Community Center. Museum Specialist David Bohaska of the Smithsonian Institution, and his team of volunteers, helped fossil collectors identify various finds.
The team prints out pictures displaying various fossils of the prehistoric eras and tries to match fossils brought to them with the diagrams.
Bohaska is an expert in marine mammal fossils, while volunteer Fred Grady is a land mammal expert. With the help of Museum Specialist Bob Purdy, who is an expert in shark fossils, the team has all the prehistoric fossil bases covered.
Fossil clubs featured at the showcase included the American Fossil Foundation, the North Carolina Fossil Club and the Aurora Fossil Club.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences had a display featuring land and marine mammals.
The most shocking of the museum fossils was a tibia and fibula of a giant prehistoric ground sloth. The fossil, found in Wilmington, was almost two feet in length and one foot in width.
Other activities throughout the day included an auction conducted by the Aurora Fossil Museum and live music from classic rock cover band De Ja Groove and bluegrass performers Mack &Tammy McRoy Band.
Besides the Pit of the Pungo, pits were dumped throughout the grassy knolls of downtown Aurora. Festival-goers were encouraged to bring their own pale, shovel and sifter to digs through the pits. Hundreds of people took heed and dug through the pits throughout the day.
The festival concludes today with community church services and gospel singing on the festival’s main stage at noon.