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Thousands attend annual Fossil Fest

February 27, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Florida has a very rich prehistoric past, with countless artifacts from before humans came here, everything from old sharks teeth to the tusks and bones of animals that went extinct millions of years ago.

On Saturday, the Shell Factory hosted the 15th annual Fossil Festival, presented by the Fossil Club of Lee County, where thousands of visitors came to see relics of the past and, perhaps, even take one home.

With the flea market going on and countless visitors from outside the area on winter break, the place was packed with casual observers as well as experts.

Article Photos

Agates from Montana as shown by Renee Radcliffe of Nature’s Treasure Chest.


Louis Stieffel, president of the Fossil Club of Lee County, said the event was humming from the time it started at 9 a.m.

"The kid's activities have been swamped, the weather is great and everyone did a great job in advertising our great dealers," Stieffel said. "It's something different and unusual and people like it."

Stieffel said the club moved its Fossil Fest to the Shell Factory five years ago and every year it has grown from a small area in the Dolphin Room to much of the center parking lot.

The event featured nearly 40 vendors of fossils, fossil art and minerals, as well as a silent auction and a grand prize raffle. Sharks teeth were a hot item, since they can be easily found on the beaches of Venice and Englewood.

Dodie Eberlein and her husband, Bill, were selling lots of big sharks teeth (megalodons) found in Venice, with the best finds in offshore North Carolina and the intercoastal waterways in Georgia. The best of them sold for as much as $300 a tooth.

"Savannah is the most western point of the eastern seaboard, and we think the mud protects the teeth," Eberlein said. "These teeth are at least two million years old and science today thinks they may be older than that."

There was plenty for children to do, as the event was geared toward them. The kids got to dig for fossils, play games for prizes and do arts and crafts such as make dinosaur fossils and paint shells. All the other attractions helped, too.

Connie Daporossi, who came while on vacation from Michigan, was having a great time with the grandkids looking at the shells and dinosaur teeth. After all, shells are fossils, too. Right?

"We love sharks' teeth and shells and all that. And we got to see all the animals and did lots of arts and crafts about fossils," Daporossi said, as her granddaughter tried on her dinosaur hat.

Christine Clementz, from the Bronx, N.Y., came with her son, Gene Lester, 6, who was busy painting shells. Her family also comes every year to visit her dad and makes the Shell Factory a must go.

"He likes painting the shells but also liked the mini golf," Clementz said as Gene bragged about how well he did with his putter.



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