Fifteenth Annual PaleoFest welcomes worldwide fossil hunters - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Fifteenth Annual PaleoFest welcomes worldwide fossil hunters

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Rockford's dinosaur hunters are kind of a big deal, they're known, throughout the country, if not the world, for what they've found.  An event this weekend shows just what kind of draw those Burpee Museum scientists really are.

"PaleoFest" gives the community a change to meet famous paleontologists from around the world and exchange ideas. But there's more to the event than the learning opportunities it provides.

"There's no other event like PaleoFest anywhere in North America," says Scott Williams, Burpee Museum Director of Exhibits and Science. "We get paleontologists from the major museums like the Smithsonian, the Field Museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Canadian museums."

Those big names are what make Rockford's PaleoFest such an exciting event for Burpee museum administrators. This year's most anticipated speakers are Dr. Scott from the popular kid's show 'Dino Train' and Dr. Jack Horner, who helped with the Jurassic Park movies. But it's not only the professional fossil hunters who will flock to Rockford.

"Our past PaleoFests have ranged from 2,000 to 3,000 people for a weekend, and just about 60% of those numbers come from outside the Winnebago county area. So we're again seeing most of our traffic come from out of town," says Williams.

Some of these people will come for the day, others for the whole weekend. They'll all provide a boost for the local economy.

Williams says, "It's great for Rockford because not only do we get these people coming in here and they're staying at hotels and they're coming here and spending money that that's also showing that Rockford is a center for research and education. Which is a really big deal."

PaleoFest's official kickoff is tonight for museum members only. The public is welcome to stop by Saturday and Sunday. General admission is $12 and that ticket includes access to Ricks Picks.

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