Being labeled an ‘old fossil’ today at the Union County Heritage Museum was an honor. The Fossil Roadshow drew a lot of folks, many from other counties, who wanted to learn about fossil hunting or fossil finds in this area. For the most part, they were not disappointed.
The Union County Heritage museum has permanent exhibits that show the story of the age when the area now known as Mississippi was an ocean. The Roadshow gives visitors and fossil hunters the chance show what they have found and learn what has been found in our area.
The exhibit area was packed with well-organized displays of fossils of all shapes, sizes and derivations, all labeled with organism names, locations where they were found and, often, even the name of a local fossil hunter who’d discovered the prize. Additionally, there were displays of gems, arts, and even fossils which were for sale for those who prefer the quick and easy way to start a collection.
Speaking of easy, the “Geode Cracker” seemed to be a popular feature of the Roadshow. This hands-on exhibit allowed the visitor to purchase a rough geode, then participate in its cracking, in order to discover the beauty nature tucked inside the rock eons ago. There was even a “do over” guarantee should the interior of the chosen geode not be adequately beautiful.
Paleontologist George Phillips’ presentation on the history of fossil collecting in Mississippi got off to a slow start and was missing the “correct” slides, which was disappointing to those in his audience who had come hoping to learn something new. However, he had ready answers to several specific questions from audience members during the Q&A portion. Clearly, there were several people in attendance at the lecture who were not new to the subject and who have enjoyed fossil hunting for a good while.
Phillips was available throughout the day to give pointers to local fossil hunters and to help identify their finds.
Jill Smith, Director of the Union County Heritage Museum, welcomed the visitors and mentioned that next year’s show would be presented in the new facilities now under construction at the museum. Judging from the number of people squeezing in to see the displays and bumping butts in the process, it is obvious that those facilities cannot come too soon.