Aurora touting fossils

Published 7:08 pm Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

Fossils, fun and family friendly activities are on tap this weekend as part of the 17th-annual Aurora Fossil Festival.
The event is hosted by the Aurora/Richland Township Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Fossil Museum.
The festival kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. with an opening ceremony, according to Andrea Stilley, director of the museum. Saturday’s activities run from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
On the schedule is a breakfast honoring all veterans at 9 a.m., to be followed by a parade at 11 a.m. This year’s parade lineup includes approximately 50 entries, Stilley said.
Also scheduled is a veterans’ presentation at noon, live music from 1 to 6 p.m. and the Fossil Museum auction at 3 p.m.
Auction items will include such fossil specimens as mosasaur, starfish, saw fish, harpatocarcinus, cave bear and gymnocidaris, Stilley said. A raffle for a 6-inch meg tooth also is planned.
Rounding out the day’s festivities is a street dance beginning at 7:30 p.m. Performing will be Judy Williamson &Bandstand Variety.
A series of fossil lectures will be held in the museum’s main building, Stilley said. Guest lecturers include Stephen Godfrey, curator of paleontology at Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland. An expert on fossil whales, dolphins, sharks and stingrays, Godfrey will speak on the “Amazing Fossils from Calvert Cliffs” beginning at 10 a.m.
At noon, Vince Schneider, curator of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh, will offer a lecture titled “The N.C. Triassic Revolution, New Discoveries in the N.C. Redbeds.” And at 1:30 p.m., John Owen will speak on “The Fossils of Coastal Northeast Florida.” Owen is a fossil enthusiast who runs a collecting guide service in Jacksonville, Fla.
Selected as the 2010 Fossil Master is Sandy Shelton of Salisbury. Shelton is a member of the Friends of the Aurora Fossil Museum organization.
“Sandy freely donates her time, not just to the museum but to schools in an effort to further the knowledge of fossils to teachers and students,” Stilley noted.
Tours of the expansive PotashCorp mines will be offered to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Throughout the day, vendors will display and sell everything from baked goods to fossils, crafts and souvenirs, Stilley said. Also planned are a petting zoo, children’s rides, a carnival, car show, Smithsonian displays and lawn mower pulls.
In addition, those in attendance can toss a water balloon at several local “celebrities,” including Aurora Mayor Clif Williams and Chamber of Commerce President Linnie Battle. Wal-Mart’s “Take a Kid Fishing” program will also be part of the festival, Stilley added.
A highlight of the festival will be the opportunity to search through piles of PotashCorp materials for mined fossils. Along with the natural finds, volunteers will bury special tokens that participants can take to the museum and claim a prize, Stilley said.
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