Two days at the Georgia National Fair with the ArchaeoBus

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

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Volunteer Tom Gresham (left) trains newly arrived volunteer Allen Vegotsky, while volunteer JC Burns (right) looks on. Allen’s holding some Play-Doh we provided for kids (of all ages) to experiment with paddles and reeds to decorate in imitation of ancient pottery surface treatments. In the afternoons, we had to keep the Play-Doh in the cooler so it wouldn’t get too soft!

Last year over 400,000 people visited the Georgia National Fair in Perry. This year people could visit the Fair—and tour the ArchaeoBus!

The ArchaeoBus was staffed by a rotating series of hardy volunteers, who answered questions and discussed archaeology with visitors of all ages.

One special, exciting exhibit developed by ArchaeoBus Tender Rita Elliott promotes agriculture, in keeping with the theme of the Fair. The SGA offered visitors the opportunity to take a small scoop or two of each of three kinds of seeds that Native Americans planted together—corn (maize), beans, and squash. Archaeologists sometimes call the trio the Three Sisters. In addition, visitors could read about Native American agriculture on an easel displaying a handout you can download (see link below).

Of course, the Fair also offered many rides and greasy (satisfying!) Fair food. And animals! Dairy cattle! Pigs—including racing pigs! Horses!Sea lions (from South America, not South Georgia…)!

During these two days, we were told to expect 4000 schoolkids on the first day, and 11,000 (!!) the second day! Of course, only a self-selected sample visited the ArchaeoBus and the display tables outside the Bus.

Both visitors and volunteers had a great time!

Click on one of the thumbnail photos below, and it will enlarge, and then you can click through the whole series. Each has a caption. Remember these are only two days of the eleven-day Fair!

Click here to download a six-page handout about Native American agriculture in Georgia, which also discusses the Three Sisters.

If you want to do your own seed activity, get some bean, corn, and squash seeds for participants to take home and grow in their own gardens. Click here to download a printable sheet of tags to accompany their seeds.

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