The previous two years the Fossil Fest was at the Shell Factory, it got a little bigger each time. When it returns this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., it promises to be the biggest yet.
The 12th-annual Fossil Fest, hosted by the Fossil Club of Lee County, is expected to double its size, with more than 50 vendors expected, and will feature more activities for the kids.
"This is one of our major fundraisers for our scholarship program and we give them to paleontology students," said Pam Plummer of the Fossil Club of Lee County.
Fossil Fest started at the Caloosa Nature Center and then went to the Shriners in Fort Myers. It did well there, but, when the building was sold and they stopped doing events there, the club came to the Shell Factory for help.
"This is a bigger and better venue and we're hoping this is the biggest one we've had to date," said Plummer, who will work as an employee for the Shell Factory.
"Every time you change a venue there's a learning curve, but we've done well and this past year we did really well and we anticipate doing better this year," said Louis Stieffel, club president.
The first event was in the Dolphin Room and was more a vendor event, while last year's fest moved outside under one tent. This year, they are expected to have two large tents, according to Rick Tupper, CFO and marketing director of the Shell Factory.
They'll be selling fossils and minerals with some fossil jewelry (such as sharks teeth) and gems mixed in, and the club will have a tent to recruit new members. There will be a fossil dig for children and a mining rig open.
"Last year we decided to hold it in a festival format outside with free admission and it was good. They had music playing, food and people from all over," "We had a couple thousand people," Stieffel said.
As always, the fossil museum inside the Shell Factory store will be open, and there will be kettle corn and the Gulf Coast Fudge Co. selling its wares.
Tupper said this will truly be a festival this time. There will be some demonstrations and live entertainment, from 2 to 7 p.m., to give people something to do when it's over.
"Last year's attendance was bigger than I anticipated an I think this year will be better," Tupper said.