October 28th, 2014

Guess where I went on October 4, 2014? Brunswick! No, not Brunswick, New Jersey. And no, not Brunswick, Maryland. Not even Brunswick County, Virginia, and certainly not New Brunswick, Canada (although that would have been quite exciting!) No, Diary, I returned to Brunswick GEORGIA, for another exciting year at CoastFest! As you may remember, Brunswick is a coastal city about half the distance between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. Diary, did you know that Brunswick, Georgia was one of colonial Georgia’s early European settlements? There was a plantation there by the 1730s and a lot of people living nearby in Frederica. Of course, Native Americans lived throughout the Brunswick area for thousands of years before European explorers and missionaries came to the Georgia coast.

Well, even though I have been to Brunswick many times, there were still things I did not know, like why would you name a town after a kind of stew? Come to find out, it isn’t named after the stew at all!

Neat fact number one…Brunswick, Georgia is named after a place in Germany called the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. That is a place where the ancestors of Great Britain’s King George III lived. When Brunswick was settled, the colonial Georgians honored their King George by naming the town after his ancestral homeland. (Diary, that was back when it was cool to be a British colony and about 40 years before the colonists revolted in the American Revolution.)

Cool fact number two…Brunswick is at the westernmost point of the Atlantic seaboard, called the “Georgia bight”. Put another way, you can’t go ANY further west on the Atlantic Ocean! How wild is that?

Sad fact number three…there are four major toxic waste sites (so toxic they are on the Superfund list) in the Brunswick area. These sites were created when companies irresponsibly contaminated the area with their wastes. The toxic sites are: Brunswick Wood Preserving, LCP Chemicals site, Hercules 0009 Landfill, and the Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas. The poisons from these sites have gone into the soil, creeks, and rivers, hurting the wildlife. Scientists discovered that bottlenose dolphins feeding in those creeks had the highest concentration of PCBs (a deadly chemical) of any mammal in the entire world! How sad that some corporations have tainted the beautiful marshes here and sickened the animals for centuries to come! I hope that some of the very smart and inquisitive kids I met at CoastFest will become active in trying to save our environment from horrible pollution like this. Maybe they will also grow up to be scientists and civic leaders.

And speaking of CoastFest, this was the 20th anniversary of that fun environmental and history festival. (You know, yours truly has been going to CoastFest for YEARS!) In fact, this year my friend Nancy B. (she is a Big-Wig with CoastFest and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources [DNR], put me in a premiere spot at the festival’s entrance gate. There I had lots of space to spread out. The drummers welcomed me in the morning (well, I guess they were actually welcoming everyone, but they were standing right by ME) and in the middle of the day when it got pleasantly warm I could look nearby and see the giant swimming pools of kayakers.

Photo 1. Here I am on the left, next to my tent of fun activities and nearby all those people!

Photo 2. Preparing for the onslaught, Dan rolls archaeology posters for prizes, and Tammy and Mac make sure all is ready.

Photo 3. Oh my, look at all the people heading my way!

Photo 4. Billy oversees restocking supplies for activities. (Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Davis)

I had lots of handlers this time. My friends Luke and Lauren (hey, that sounds like a soap opera on TV!) from New South brought me all the way down from Stone Mountain through a tremendously scary storm the day before CoastFest. It was raining and windy and dark and thundering…it was so bad I almost lost my air conditioning cover on my roof! But cool Luke kept me on the road and out of the ditches. Lauren followed as a good safety backup, which made me feel much better

Saturday at CoastFest new and old friends showed up to help me work the crowds. My old handler energetic Tammy H. came back again with some great educational displays, and my mentor and handler Veronica and my true and quirky friend Real Dan came to help too. Old and new CoastFest friends from the Golden Isles Chapter of The Society for Georgia Archaeology showed up to assist, including Billy Brice, Mac Carlton, Jack Caldwell and Mary Jo Davis. Thanks guys!! I made other new friends who helped me from Savannah, including Evelyn Shealy, from the Anthropology Club at Armstrong Atlantic State University and archaeologist John Brannen. I hope they all had as much fun as me!

Photo 5. The audiences from the stage tent behind Lauren came over before and after the shows to try out some of my archaeology activities.

Photo 6. John got even the youngest visitors interested in archaeology!

Photo 7. Luke welcomes guests inside for more hands-on learning.

Photo 8. A visitor playing the “spin the wheel” game thinks about an answer to Mary Jo’s archaeology question to win a poster prize.

Diary, can you believe that 9,495 people came to CoastFest this year???? That was record attendance. I was so tired by 4 pm that I was sure most of them visited me! Not only was I tired, but I was worried that when I got back on the road my AC cover would fly off, since it was loosened by the storm. But I met a new friend from DNR named Brad A. who was SO VERY nice! He climbed up on my roof and put a whole lot of new screws around my cover, securing it in place. Whew, I felt better immediately!

Photo 11. Mac poses under the ArchaeoBus Tent and the colorful Society for Georgia Archaeology banner. (Photo courtesy of Mary Jo Davis.)

So, Diary, you can see why it took me a few weeks to write this entry. I was tired! But word on the street is that I get to go to the spa this winter for some much needed rejuvenation. If that is true, I will keep you posted!