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Big crowd turns out for (free) fossil day

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The excitement was abundantly evident Saturday at Sternberg Museum of Natural History’s observance of National Fossil Day — for young and old alike, although some youngsters weren’t inclined to visit the roaring Tyrannosaurus rex on the upper floor of the museum.

Conversely, other young tykes were thrilled to see the young dinosaur just a few feet away.

It was a mix of displays, designed to fill what young and old were looking for, according to Laura Wilson, curator of paleontology at the museum.

For Dean and Ellen Fast, South Hutchinson, it’s a trip they’ve made before, but this one had a special purpose.

Dean Fast brought along a bag of limestone he’s been toting around for years to see if Wilson could identify them.

The items included fossils, such as ammonites and teeth.

“I’ve been hauling this stuff around since I was 10, 11 years old,” he said of the items that had been laid out on a table in the lobby of Sternberg.

He was hopeful he had something a bit more exciting, but happy nonetheless with what he’d found.

“I was disappointed with one piece,” he said. “It thought it was a footprint.”

A steady stream of observers made their way through the museum, with more than 250 walking through the exhibits in the first 90 minutes, according to museum director Reese Barrick.

In the previous three free-admission days, he said, attendance had reached approximately 700 visitors.

Admission was free in observance of National Fossil Day, which will be observed Wednesday.

Wilson said she and other members of the Sternberg staff will be attending a conference this week and decided they needed to move up the exhibit to Saturday.

Wilson was delighted with the crowd.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said of seeing families at the museum.

She was just as excited to see a wide age range of visitors at the museum.