PaleoFest set for Feb. 18-20

Burpee Museum hosts world famous dinosaur hunters and paleontologists at PaleoFest Feb. 18-20

For seven years, the Burpee Museum of Natural History has celebrated dinosaurs at PaleoFest—and this year will be the most exciting version yet! On the weekend of Feb. 18-20, 10 of the most famous dinosaur hunters in the world will gather in Rockford to tell stories and conduct workshops for families, professionals and kids of all ages. The three days are packed with a variety of activities to delight dinosaur buffs of all ages. “Have a DinoBlast” is this year’s theme. There will be Paleo Talks, Family Workshops plus special DinoBlast Passport Activities just for kids . . . Be a Dino Hunter, Build Your Own Dino, Dino Stompers and more.

PaleoFest begins with a unique members’ reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, when Jane’s magnificent reconstructed skull will be unveiled for the very first time—a sight not seen in more than 66,000,000 years! Tyler Keillor of the University of Chicago collaborated with museum staff to complete the skull reconstruction. He is the artist and dinosaur preparator who created this masterpiece. He will give an electrifying presentation on his methods for reconstructing the bones in Jane’s skull, as well as

some new work he has done and how it pertains to Jane. Tyler, a world class preparator for years, has marvelous tales to tell about JANE—and many other dinosaurs from around the world.

Paul Sereno, Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, one of National Geographic’s esteemed Explorers-in-Residence, will be the keynote speaker Saturday, Feb. 19, from 6 til 10 p.m. at Burpee’s PaleoFest Adventure and Expedition Dinner. Dr. Sereno, the world’s leading authority on African dinosaurs, will talk about his continuing fieldwork in North Africa, the subject of several television documentaries that have thrilled countless viewers across the country. Sereno says: “I see paleontology as ‘adventure with a purpose.’. . . You’ve got to be able to go where no one has gone before.” The event, which includes a reception, silent auction, music and dinner, will be held at Clock Tower Resort and Convention Center, 7801 E. State, Rockford. Reservations are $50 each.

PaleoFest festivities will kick-off Saturday morning with a premier presentation titled “Dinosaurs 101” by Scott Williams, Burpee’s Collection manager, and end Sunday afternoon with Michael Henderson, Burpee Museum’s very own dinosaur hunter and Curator of Earth Science, who will give some more clues on Jane’s pedigree.

On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19 and 20, the line-up of distinguished paleontologists will have something for everyone, young and old. Guest speakers include Philip Currie, Ph.D., Royal Tyrell Museum; James Farlow, Ph.D., Purdue University, with some significant information on new fossil mammal localities in Indiana; Kristi Curry Rogers, Ph.D., Minnesota Museum of Science and Nature, with some interesting information on her paleontological fieldwork in Madagascar and new evidence of cannibalism among dinosaurs; Thomas Carr, Ph.D., Carthage College; and Wendy Taylor, Ph.D., University of Chicago, will “wow” fossil lovers of all ages with a talk on the spectacular Mazon Creek Fossils.

In 2002, Burpee made international headlines as the “little museum that could” when a team of Burpee staff and volunteers discovered and excavated a dinosaur named “JANE” in Montana and brought her to Rockford. What is JANE? The debate continues! Michael Henderson, Burpee’s Curator of Earth Sciences, will give an update on the research into Jane’s identity.

Burpee’s President/CEO says: “PaleoFest aims to help people use their scientific imaginations. With dinosaurs it’s really quite easy—dinos are awesome, and the stories of how they lived and died are quite compelling—they serve as an ideal bridge to science for almost everyone. To witness the lifelike restoration of 66 million years of old bones and teeth is NOT an event to be missed. Science and art really come together in this work—it is powerful, it is menacing, and it will take your breath away!”

PaleoFest hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. DinoBlast activities are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission is $5 per person for Burpee and Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) members (Children younger than 3 are free.). Each PaleoFest talk, workshop and Studio is $7 each for members and $9 for non-members. Seating is limited for each session. Stop by for lunch at the River District Café’s “DinoDiner,” meet the speakers, get autographs, shop for fossils and oodles of dinosaur stuff at the “DinoDen.” For reservations and details, phone 815-965-3433 or log on to

Best Western Clock Tower Resort and Convention Center offers special hotel accommodations at $79 per night for PaleoFest attendees. Offer includes special discount on festival admission. Call 815-398-6000 for more information. Best Western Clock Tower accommodations includes one night for four people in a one king or two queen beds suite equipped with coffeemaker, free high-speed wireless internet, movies-on-demand plus indoor pool and whirlpool.

Burpee Museum of Natural History is one of the pre-eminent natural history museums in Illinois. Its mission is to inspire all people to engage in a lifetime of learning about our natural world.

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