FossilFest 2017, Tampa Bay, Florida

Date(s) - 11/03/2017 - 12/03/2017

Florida State Fairgrounds, Special Event Center

Type of Event

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 11th and 12th, 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 30th annual, FossilFest 2017!

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 all 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 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 workshops on Florida’s extensive fossil record and prehistoric people. Workshops will teach folks how they can legally hunt for fossils in Florida and how to identify and preserve what they find (free to those in attendance).

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 Tampa Bay Fossil 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 former President of the Tampa Bay Fossil Club and Pinellas County “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 30 year-old club hosts numerous field trips, camp outs, gatherings, and adventures throughout its September through May season.

The Ice Age returns to Florida!

Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Special Events Center
When: March 11 & 12, 2017
Time: Saturday – 9AM until 5PM, Sunday – 10AM until 4PM
Admission: $7.00 for adults, children 12 and under admitted free.

Learn more at:

Members of the media can take a “sneak peek” of FossilFest on Friday evening, March 10th. Interview and photographic opportunities can be arranged with fossil hunters of all ages, from all over Florida.