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Fall, fossils, fun and families all on tap at Besser Museum

October 2, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

Besser Museum's traditional Fall Harvest Day celebration takes on a new twist this year.

Many of the favorite old-time crafts and activities from seasons past still will be featured, but so too will a first-time ever Fossil Fest complete with bus tours to local quarries, rock and mineral vendors, college geology department representatives and a presentation by renowned fossil expert, PaleoJoe.

Personnel from Central Michigan University, Lake Superior State University and Alpena Community College will be on site to answer questions and talk about possible career choices and college programs available for people interested in geology or earth science.

"We really wanted to create a program that would encourage visitors to be aware of our natural resources and how they are used to produce things we take for granted like paved roads and sidewalks," said Museum Interim Director Chris Witulski of this year's new addition.

Unlike years past, the event also is free thanks to the sponsorship of Specification Stone Products and Lafarge Corporation. Fall Harvest Fossil Fest, being billed as a "free family fun day," is set for noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday in and around the museum grounds.

PaleoJoe (Joe Kchodl) of Midland will give his fossil presentation at 12:30 p.m. He has been bringing amateur geologists and paleontologists to the Alpena area for years to dig for fossils. The public also can do their own digging in the museum's Lafarge Fossil Park.

Fact Box

Besser Museum's

Fall Harvest

Fossil Fest

Saturday, Oct. 6

Noon-4 p.m.

Free admission

  • PaleoJoe talk
  • Bus tours to quarries
  • Fall dessert contest
  • Old-time crafts/demos
  • Tour historic buildings

Another new twist to an old favorite, the annual pie contest, is this year's Fall Flavored Desserts Contest, sponsored by Neiman's Family Market. Here are the rules:

Among the traditional offerings at this year's event are a chance to tour the museum's historic buildings and demonstrations of skills such as net mending, blacksmithing, rope making and doll making. There also will be cord fiddles, rock painting, planetarium shows (1-3 p.m.) and lunch available from the "Food for a Cause" wagon.

Local Girl Scouts will lead old-fashioned activities in the historic Spratt Church and there will be information on hand regarding area fish and wildlife as well as parks and recreation.

This year's event is celebrating completion of the educational signage that Lincoln Elementary School teacher Kellie Poli's students have worked on for the past two years. The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative funded this two-year project that resulted in the signage for the museum's geology exhibit and fossil park.

During the research process, Poli's students learned a lot about the local geology, how fossils found in limestone deposits were formed and how limestone is used to produce cement.

"Taking all they learned, the students then led the way in creatively designing the layouts for the interpretive signage, which includes both text and pictures," said Witulski. "The signs are a great addition to the fossil park."



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