For the first time in my life, I was able to attend Paleofest on the weekend of March 14. Paleofest is an annual celebration and gathering of paleontology fans and experts at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Illinois. Paleontologists gather from all over the world to give talks, while children engage in interactive, educational play with museum docents and visiting scientists. I had been aware of this event for three years and especially wanted to go to last year’s event on the Cenozoic. This year it was all about the Triassic, a period of reptile diversity and evolution, and the emergence of the first mammals and dinosaurs as the ecosystems of the world revived from the Permian extinction.
The talks took place downstairs, in the main classroom of the museum below all the other exhibits. There was a substantial crowd, and I wasn’t the only representative from the Field Museum’s volunteers to attend. Only visitors wearing the event badges were allowed in, and I paid $85 for the full weekend. The talks were attended by people of all ages, and both genders were well-represented. It was genuinely inspiring to see how diverse the appeal of paleontology is.