ROCKFEST: Event draws families, makes learning fun
by Amanda Stegall
Jun 12, 2011 | 1963 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Robert Madden shows Aaron Danberry and Ariel Marshall a large piece of agatized Withlacochee corral that came from Valdosta.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Unique rocks can be found all throughout the country, but what appears to be a simple stone could be a fossil or mineral. And that is the attraction to Tellus Museum's 21st annual RockFest at Tellus.

The fest kicked off Saturday with a large crowd of vendors and visitors, all enjoying the sunny weather. "We want to do things to attract families for fun and shared learning experiences," said Jose Santamaria, museum director. "We've had about a thousand people here today and expect about the same for Sunday."

Although vendors from around the region were on hand with beautiful and rare minerals in the forms of decorative pieces and jewelry, the museum also was open with the river panning and fossil dig exhibits where participants are allowed to take their findings with them when they leave.

Continuing the tradition from the days when the now Tellus Museum was known as the Weinman Mineral Museum, RockFest combined children's activities and unique, mystifying pieces that capture adult attention with a learning atmosphere of how fossils and minerals are formed.

Alongside the outdoor vendors, a group of museum employees were available to identify fossils and minerals that participants bring to the event. Saturday's identifications revealed the common quartz and a sapphire, according to Tellus Curator Julian Gray.

Included in the more decorative side of the vendor gems for sale, Tom Batcha with Rocks in a Box creates trees with a series of 11 loops of wire molded into the form of a tree and glued to a base rock. For the leaves, Batcha uses smaller rocks that match the base to create an ornamental unity.

RockFest will continue today with gates remaining open from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m.