Fall Harvest Fossil Fest coming up

Signs of fall are visible all around, including at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan where preparations are in full swing for the annual Fall Harvest Day celebration.

Last year, the museum expanded the focus of this long-time event to also include activities centered around its on-site Fossil Park, and this will be the case again this year. The event, scheduled for Oct. 5 from noon to 4 p.m., is officially now called the Fall Harvest Fossil Fest. Though there has been an admission charge in years past, it is offered free this year.

“Besser Museum is very grateful to Specification Stone Products, Lafarge Alpena Plant, Neiman’s Family Market and all the volunteer demonstrators for helping bring this year’s Fall Harvest Fest event to the community,” Besser Museum Executive Director Chris Witulski said. “Thanks to their support, this year’s event will be free to the public.”

Along with many favorites from season past, the event includes bus tours of local quarries and a chance to dig with Paleo Joe in the Fossil Park. Limestone quarries have been one of Northeast Michigan’s major industries for over 100 years. Both Specification Stone Products and Lafarge are offering tours of their quarries.

“Allowing the public to tour down into the quarry is a unique opportunity,” Witulski said. “The bottom of the quarry is 175 feet below lake level. Looking up at a wall layered in limestone formed millions of years ago is pretty awe-inspiring.”

Paleo Joe, a unique persona known for the keen interest and knowledge of fossils he shares with the public, will be at the museum’s fossil park to help visitors “dig the Devonian” period. Local fossil hounds Mark, Jon and Matt Bluck will assist Paleo Joe in fossil park dig and be there to answer questions about any Devonian fossil specimens unearthed.

Several rock and mineral vendors will be on hand as well, including an artist who uses rocks as a canvas.

Returning from last year is a Pie Baking Contest sponsored by Neiman’s Family Market. Area Girl Scouts will old-fashioned fun in the Spratt Church. Delta Kappa Gamma will sharing about life in a one-room school inside the Green School. Bob Kujawa’s one-room school house display will be available for viewing.

Other attractions are the Antique Tractor and Steam Engine group making cedar shingles, a blacksmith demonstration and a net mending demonstration by Tuffy Cross.

Food will star too throughout the day. The Founders Society will be serving lunch at the Food for a Cause Wagon to raise money for the Maltz Bank restoration project. Founders members also be running the pie contest and selling pieces of pie afterwards.

DKG also will have bake sale items available inside Green School. The goodies include foods similar to what would have been found in lunch boxes in days gone by such as homemade bread, molasses cookies and sugar cookies. Money raised during the bake sale will go toward continued preservation of Green School.

Just as she has for many years past, Edna Manning will play host at the McKay Cabin, a structure she is connected to through family ties. Manning turns 100 years old in November, and the museum encourages folks to stop by and give her some early “Happy Birthday” greetings.

Many kid-related activities will be offered too, including corn fiddles, rock painting, doll making and planetarium shows. The museum’s indoor Avenue of Shops will be animated and its other current exhibits available for viewing.

For more information about the Fall Harvest Fossil Fest, contact the museum at 356-2202.