Anyone who has ever found their first ammonite curled up on the beach knows the buzz of a fossil find – the combination of holding something millions of years old in your hand, and the thrill of finding buried treasure brings thousands of people to the Jurassic Coast every year.
This weekend Lyme Regis is totally taken over by fossil fever. There are experts from the top universities and museum departments, geological and paleontological associations, scientific bodies and fossils traders from all over the country, all getting together to share their enthusiasm and expertise with the general public.
The Natural History Museum are there in force, with exhibits ranging from Hawaiian lava samples to locally caught moth species, and experts helping everyone from school children to expert adults to learn more.
The paleontological associations are also out in force, with skulls, fossils, microscopy, and all sorts of hands-on opportunities to sift for sharks teeth, walk like a dinosaur, explore 3D printing, make fossil casts and see how ammonite fossils were formed.
The Scott Polar Research Institute are there with real polar gear, and the British Antarctic Survey have gone penguin mad in the seafront Pavillions.
Children can try stop-motion animation at The Hub, get involved in art projects, and listen to story-tellers and even a science rapper.
The festival is spread throughout the town this year, so all the shops and restaurants etc should feel the benefit, as there are hundreds of people expected over the weekend.
We visited today and I was struck, as always, by how enthusiastic and patient the exhibitors are – they must get asked the same silly questions time & time again over the weekend, but they always take the time to share their knowledge and show you their exhibits as if it’s the first time ever.
There are talks and guided walks too, and musical performances over the weekend, so get onto the and check out the programmes, or just get down there and pick up a programme from the yellow festival hut on the Cobb Gate Car Park. Most of the talks and walks are ticketed events, but most of the hands-on science and exhibitions are free, walk-in events, so it’s a fantastic free day out with children (although donations are very gratefully received to keep the festival running).
The festival runs this Saturday & Sunday so you still have time to get down and see what’ sharpening. Just head for the 30ft bright green Iguanadon with a restaurant in its stomach, you can’t miss it!