Aurora digs Fossil Festival

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anyone attending the Aurora Fossil Festival this weekend will have the opportunity to search for fossils. Piles of reject materials from PotashCorp-Aurora mines will be located throughout the town, and folks are invited to dig to their hearts’ content, free of charge. (WDN Photo/Kevin Scott Cutler)

AURORA — This town will bustle with activity this weekend during its annual Fossil Festival, a Beaufort County event that draws crowds eager to enjoy a festival unlike any other.

“This is one time that the people of Beaufort and surrounding counties can come and experience a day of not-your-normal festival activities,” noted Wayne Sawyer, who is in his third year as chairman of the event.

Sawyer and approximately two dozen other volunteers will be kept busy overseeing activities that begin Friday evening and end Sunday.

Friday’s opening ceremonies are slated for 6 p.m. They will be followed by a concert on the event’s main stage. On Saturday, the festival kicks off at 8 a.m., and the first-ever 5K Fossil Run begins at 8:30 a.m. A breakfast honoring area veterans is planned for 9 a.m., and a highlight of the day, the fossil parade, rolls at 11 a.m. Fossil lectures hosted by the Aurora Fossil Museum will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and tours of the PotashCorp-Aurora mines will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Rounding out the day’s festivities are lawn-mower pulls, carnival rides, food and crafts vendors, musical entertainment, helicopter rides, educational displays, fossil auction and a street dance. On Sunday, a church service and all-day gospel singing are scheduled.

The Aurora Fossil Festival was first held in 1994. It has grown bigger and better each year, say festival veterans. One tradition is the selection of a fossil master, an individual whose interest in the study of fossils and whose enthusiasm for the festival make them worthy of the honor. The 2012 fossil master is Aurora resident B.J. Blake, an active volunteer with the Fossil Museum and treasurer of the local fossil club. She has coordinated the museum’s fossil auction since 2000 and been a fossil guide at PotashCorp-Aurora for 11 years.

According to Sawyer, sponsors for the festival include PotashCorp-Aurora, EJE Recyclers, Tideland Electric Membership Corp., Sawyer’s Land Developing, David’s Trash Service, Potter Oil & Tire and The County Compass.

In addition to the festival, Sawyer noted, there is another reason to visit Aurora this weekend.

“Come feel the Southern hospitality that can only be found in Small Town, USA,” he said.