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Fossil Fest is back at Newport's Hatfield, a serious crowd pleaser on Oregon coast

Published 01/28/23 at 4:40 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Fossil Fest is back at Newport's Hatfield, a serious crowd pleaser on Oregon coast

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(Newport, Oregon) – You could say a certain demographic will be “diggin' “ this news. (Photo of Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Rockhounds and fans of million-year-old finds can now rejoice. A favorite among them returns to the central Oregon coast as the Hatfield Marine Science Center brings back the Oregon Sea Grant's Fossil Fest to Newport on February 11.

This is the first time it's been seen in two years, as 2020's event took place just before the big COVID shutdowns.

Now Fossil Fest resumes all of its favorite activities for Oregon coast visitors, happening 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. As before, it comes complete with lectures from fossil experts at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., as well as copious displays of these ancient rocks and the very popular feature of getting your fossil identified by experts.

The event is free with entry to the Visitor Center, which is $3 for ages 5 and up. Tickets can be purchased only online at the center's link.

People are encouraged to bring their questions and any fossils they want identified. It's a popular feature at every Fossil Fest. You'll also learn how to find fossils, and there will be hands-on activities for all ages.

All Fossil Fest photos courtesy Hatfield Marine Science Center

Mike Full, a local Pleistocene fossil hound, will be setting up additional exhibits of amazing fossils, along with others. Children's activities will be offered by the North America Research Group, as well as tips on how to prepare fossils. Other tables will host activities, more fossils and other kinds of displays.

Among the intriguing displays in the past have been Full’s “Willamette Valley Pleistocene Project," which captured a glimpse of 50,000 years of prehistory in Oregon's own backyard. Giant bison and woolly mammoth fossils have been on display in other year's events, so they're a good possibility this time around.

Full will do the 11 a.m. presentation with "In Search of Ice Age Giants,” about finding ice age fossils in the Willamette Valley.

William Orr, a professor emeritus of geological sciences at the University of Oregon, will give a talk at 1 p.m. He'll dig into the past with “Dinosaur Wars.” No, this won't involve the Transformers, but it will give a fascinating glimpse into the prehistoric lifeforms on this planet – and maybe touch on the small amount of bones found on the south Oregon coast.

Orr and his wife Elizabeth have coauthored numerous books together, including Geology of the Pacific Northwest, Second Edition and Oregon Water: An Environmental History – along with the Oregon Fossils.

Hatfield Marine Science Center. 2030 Marine Science Dr. Newport, Oregon. 541-867-0167

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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