Saving Georgia’s Dirt at CoastFest 2009

Submitted by Kevin Kiernan (kevin.kiernan@gmail.com)

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With over 7000 visitors from across and outside the state, CoastFest 2009 broke all records for attendance this year. Held on the first Saturday of October on the grounds of the Coastal Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources, at the northern foot of the stunning Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick, CoastFest is an annual extravaganza of interactive exhibitions and sideshows relating to Georgia’s coastal heritage.

For over ten years the Society for Georgia Archaeology has set up its tents and tables to introduce Georgians to the fascinating history that lies underfoot. This year, thanks to the daring and endurance of Tom Gresham, who agreed to drive it from Athens to Brunswick, the ArchaeoBus made its maiden voyage to the coast to participate in the events. The DNR let us park the bus and provided power right next to the SGA Big Top. Rita Elliott volunteered for the entire day to shepherd the hoards passing through the ArchaeoBus and into the cul-de-sac of our SGA archaeology tables. She was also our photographer.

Although unable to attend this year, Tammy Herron, the doyenne of displays, brought her extraordinary collection of artifacts, mounted posters, and interactive games to Savannah, so they could be brought down for the CoastFestivities in Brunswick. Ellen Provenzano, archaeology coordinator for the Glynn County Schools, added her collection of artifacts and games from Fort Frederica, and as always worked throughout the day. There was a steady stream of students, showing off what they had learned in Glynn County’s award-winning archaeology program.

Profile_09_CoastFest09_themeProfile_09_CoastFest09_stickerIn addition to CoastFest breaking its attendance record, the SGA shattered its old tally of volunteers. Along with those already mentioned, Betsy and Michael Shirk took the long drive to Brunswick to add their years of experience at CoastFest. The many local volunteers, including Jerry and Connie Fonseca, Aidine Kiernan, Sonja Olsen Kinard, Larry Lynch, Susan Pope, and Roseann Williams, not only learned how to sort and guess the identity of artifacts, but also to make decorated coil pots out of sand-tempered Play-Doh as if they were professional archaeologists.

The theme of the day was “Save Georgia’s Dirt!”, commemorated in a snazzy sticker we distributed to everyone who came to our activities. The motto was also used on the DNR’s “passport” for children to have stamped by us, after they had learned the answer to the question, “Why do we need to ‘Save Georgia’s Dirt’?”

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