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President's Message

Okay, its CRUNCH time. In the next 60 days TBFC has a lot to prepare for and a lot of hard work to look forward to. FossilFest 2018 is just days away and the Peace River Adventure is just a short time after that. On top of all of that, let’s squeeze in a few TBFC meetings, some more field trips, and a big season ending dinner in June, all in about the next 90 days. Whew!

March 3rd, 2018
Dr. Andy Hemmings
Florida’s First People

For some reason, and I couldn’t tell you why, there is caustic divide between many archaeological professionals and the amateurs. That’s a whole “thing”. You can Google it and read about it all day. A few years ago my wife and I attended the First Floridian conference in Monticello, FL. There were many presenters. Some were overtly anti-amateur and even announced during their presentations that if one wanted to collect artifacts, one should first obtain a degree. Despite this negativity, most in attendance were just interested in science, and debating when man first stepped foot into the peninsula of Florida. Dr. Andy Hemmings was a standout and I quickly realized, a crowd favorite among the amateurs.

During each break Dr. Hemmings dashed to the lobby to meet with amateurs who were lined up to talk to him. He sat up an impromptu table on which to inspect what they had found. Some brought along ancient spear points and other artifacts. As I peeked through the crowd to get a look at some of the paleo-aged spear points that were being taken out of their wrappings, I heard the unlikely. Amateurs weren’t just showing off their finds, they were sharing locations. Several huge Suwannee spear points had come from a ranch near Lake City, their owner was excited to show them to Dr. Hemmings. Some beautiful Simpson spear points had been collected from just west of the University of Florida. The amateurs clearly trusted him.

Many years ago TBFC had a scheduled speaker from the University of Florida cancel, giving us about 24 hours’ notice. As I remember, the excuse was that the speaker’s wife was pregnant, not the kind of thing that sneaks up on you at the last minute… Barbara Fite put in a call to the staff at UF begging for a replacement. With almost no warning, Dr. Hemmings said he’d come to Tampa, and he did. I wonder if he even remembers making the last minute the trip.

It goes without saying that Dr. Hemmings has always been one of my favorite scientists from UF. He led the dives on the Aucilla River Prehistoric Project working alongside another one of my favorite scientists, Dr. S. David Webb. When UF sponsored the PaleoFest events, Dr. Hemmings workshops were full. If you didn’t register early, you didn’t get in. And back then, he looked more like one of us, or… at least what some of us looked like back them. Not a stodgy academic, but an educated kid wheeling around UF on his bicycle with his Mohawk blowing in the wind. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Dr. Hemmings is coming back to Tampa. You will enjoy this presentation.

Dr. Hemmings received his MA and Ph. D from the University of Florida, and has worked extensively in Paleoindian archaeology and anthropology. His research interests have focused on the earliest Americans, their cultures, tools, and deposits.

Working at Florida sites like the Sloth Hole, Aucilla and Wacissa Rivers, and submerged environments in Florida, Mexico and elsewhere, Andy Hemmings is one of Florida’s most knowledgeable and experienced experts on early human presence in the Americas. He is currently a professor of archaeology and anthropology at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, but lives much of the year outside Gainesville.

FossilFest 2018
March 10th & 11th, 2018

At the time of this writing, FossilFest 2018 is less than a month away. As I’ve reported to you before, the majority of funds TBFC operates on throughout the year are generated at FossilFest. The event is important to TBFC, not just because of the financial earnings though, almost all of the media attention that helps attract new members to TBFC is received during the weeks leading up to FossilFest.

Any help you can provide as a volunteer or the donation of needed items is greatly appreciated. Please help make FossilFest 2018 another great and record breaking event! See everything we need in this edition of the Chronicles.

Peace River Adventure - April 28th – 29th 2018

The Peace River Adventure has turned into one of TBFC’s most popular outings. Years ago we worried if we’d get enough participation to make the event worth the work, now we worry if we can accommodate everyone who wants to attend.

With FossilFest comes many new members, some who have never set foot into a river or mine in search of fossilized creatures from the past. The Peace River trip has become these folk’s freshman outing in paleontology and the perfect opportunity to learn how to hunt for their very own fossils. The trip is also a sort of reunion for many of us who have attended the event for decades.

The Peace River Adventure is a wonderful family outing and the only TBFC fieldtrip when we invite non-members to join in on the hunt. This is your opportunity to introduce friends and family to TBFC and Florida’s prehistoric past. The river is at its shallowest level and accessible by hunters of all ages (with Mother Nature cooperating).

The Peace River Adventure will take new and seasoned fossil hunters into the beautiful Peace River near Zolfo Springs. An afternoon barbeque dinner, benefit auction, and campfires galore will follow the day of fossil hunting. On top of all of that, the Peace River Adventure boasts some of TBFC’s hottest selling t-shirts of the year. You can find registration forms in this edition of the Chronicles. Sign up early! This weekend trip only comes around once a year (with some folks arriving even earlier in the week). If you have any questions, feel free to contact me: (813) 909-9358 or fossilnerd@msn.com). And, if you’re interested in volunteering at the event for a couple hours, please let me know.

Good Hunting!
Mike Searle