40 years later, fossils still fascinate; Aurora Fossil Museum celebrates this weekend

Published 6:20 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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By Karen Thiel

For the Washington Daily News

This weekend will be busy and happy in Aurora, where the town – and fossil fans from far and wide — will mark the 40th year that the Aurora Fossil Museum celebrates its popularity as one of North Carolina’s most unique attractions. With the exception of a Covid-era cancellation, the annual Fossil Fest has been a draw for residents and visitors since 1983. That’s when the decision was made to offer displays and related information about scientific discoveries that have been unearthed in and near town since the 1960s, when phosphate mining began there.

 The event has drawn statewide attention on an entirely different scale since last February, when it was chosen as winner of “Best Children’s Program” at ShowFest 2023, awarded by the North Carolina Association of Festivals and Events. Visitors nationwide as well as from several foreign countries have held that opinion since the very first Fossil Fest was held.

 Its website describes the Aurora Fossil Museum as a “resource to educate on the geology, paleontology and pre-history of coastal North Carolina”. This year’s festival will offer a wide variety of learning experiences – most of which will be disguised as enjoyable and unique activities including “digs” at the museum’s fossil pits and piles, fossil displays, “kids’ zone” activities, and a “Dinosaurs Alive” show featuring several free performances as well as VIP ticketed fundraising versions.

 Learning and entertainment will be well combined from Friday through Monday, with choices including everything from activities at the STEM Ed Tent to the event’s annual parade, several live music performances, a family movie night,  a “glow party” and a “foam party”, a pair of 5K bicycle races – one of which will be virtual – and a community church service on Sunday morning.

 Representatives of the event’s partner non-profit organizations will be in attendance, ready for anyone interested in their special areas of interest. And what’s a festival without vendors? Plenty will be at this event, offering the traditional food choices, arts and crafts, and – for the truly dedicated — fossil and mineral vendor booths.

Fossil Fest is free – although some “ticketed events” are offered as a fundraising option for attendees. The weekend runs from Friday May 26 through Monday May 29 at (and near) the Aurora Fossil Museum, 400 Main Street, Aurora, NC. Its website – aurorafossilmuseum.org – or the main phone number — 252-322-4238 – are where to find extra information on what the website is calling “a family-friendly event steeped in tradition and good old-fashioned southern charm.”