In Florida’s last Ice Age, prehistoric people hunted mammoths, built pyramids along Florida’s coast, and lived in fear of the saber cat, giant lion, and wolf. On March 14th and 15th, the Florida State Fairgrounds will go back in time to a different place, a different Florida, a land long lost. The Tampa Bay Fossil Club presents the 33rd annual, FossilFest 2020 – The Ice Age Returns!
FossilFest is Florida’s largest prehistoric show where the public can view amazing fossils that were found right here in Florida, as well as, artifacts left behind by Florida’s first people. FossilFest features educational activities for both children and adults designed to teach the public about Florida’s exciting prehistoric past. A time when saber-toothed cats, giant wolves, sharks as big as school buses, and prehistoric Indians ruled Florida’s peninsula. Also on display will be gems, minerals, fossil shells, and antique bottles. Vendors will be on hand to sell and trade fossils found both here in Florida, and from over the world.
“Our goal is to teach Floridians about the prehistoric creatures and people that were here long before us,” says club president Mike Searle. “You don’t have to travel to far-away exotic places to find these fossils. Mammoths, wolves, camels, and rhinos lived right here where we live today. Their fossilized remains are everywhere in Florida”, says Searle.
On both Saturday and Sunday there will be free workshops to teach folks how they can legally hunt for fossils in Florida and how to identify and preserve what they find.
A highlight of FossilFest is the children’s Fossil Mine at Paleo Park. For a small fee kids can dig through a sand pit to recover actual prehistoric fossils donated by members of the Tampa Bay Fossil Club. Then, at the “Learning Table,” they sit down with a club member who will identify and explain their new treasures. The children keep all the fossils they find!
“It’s a wonderful “hands-on” learning experience,” says Club member and Hillsborough County schoolteacher, Patrick McGirk. “You just can’t believe how excited these kids get over finding fossils. They don’t even realize how much they’re learning!”
There will be free door prizes, kid’s games, silent auctions, and raffles throughout the weekend.
“So many people these days are hooked on the Discovery and History Channels, and now these treasure hunting shows. That’s what we’re all about,” says Dr. Bob Sinibaldi, a National “Teacher of the Year” winner. “FossilFest will appeal to anyone who enjoys documentary TV, loves science and nature, or has an interest in history and outdoor adventure”, says Sinibaldi.
The Tampa Bay Fossil Club is a family-oriented organization focusing on paleontology, archaeology, and everything prehistoric. Meetings are held monthly at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus and features prominent speakers from many areas of science. The Tampa Bay Fossil Club awards annual scholarships to students studying in the field of paleontology and geology. The 33-year-old club hosts numerous field trips, camp outs, gatherings, and adventures throughout its September through May season.
The Ice Age returns to Florida!