Dinosaurs were significant tourists, back in the day. Some enjoyed the area so much, they decided to stay. A few of them were even known to throw their weight around! The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) has provided a treasure trove of dinosaur discoveries. Of the 39 new dinosaur discoveries worldwide, nine have come from the GSENM!

Big Water, Utah, will be the place to celebrate their time here! Mark your calendars for October 4-6 to attend the Big Water Dinosaur Festival. The celebration of ancient life will have fun, food and educational events for the entire family.

The event came about after Merle Graffam, of the Big Water GSENM Visitor Center, shared with Big Water City Councilwoman Jennie Lassen that the paleontology-focused center registered 35,000 visitors in one year. Apparently, more than a few tourists are interested in dinosaurs!

“I was amazed at the number of people,” commented Lassen. “We saw it as an opportunity to develop an event and activities here. We wanted to focus on dinosaurs, tours and outreach.”

“We have been talking for years on how we can expand economics here,” said Debora Short, event organizer and volunteer.

They both cited a BLM appreciative inquiry that questioned how smaller communities could be assisted with economic development. “We met with the BLM and pitched our dinosaur festival to them and the Kane County Travel Council,” said Short. Both entities agreed to provide funding support. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Partners also stepped up to assist in support of the event.

The Big Water Dinosaur Festival 2013 was a reality!

On Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m. AZ time, (8 p.m. UT) the adventure begins! There will be a free presentation at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center by Joseph Sertich, Phd., who is the curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. His current focus of research is on the new fossil discoveries in southern Utah, Madagascar, and Africa.

There will be an open air market and craft fair on Saturday, October 5, beginning at 8 a.m. (AZ time) surrounding the Big Water Town Hall and Fire Station at 60 Aaron Burr, just off Highway 89 in Big Water. This event will be gigantic fun! There will be dinosaur games and activities, contests, raffle prizes, funtime inflatables, great food, kid’s crafts, and live music. But to best get in the mood for the event, why not participate in the dinosaur cake contest, or better yet, dance with a dinosaur?

On Sunday, October 6, BLM paleontologist Dr. Alan Titus (dinosauraus extraordinaraus), will lead a caravan tour adventure through Cottonwood Canyon, exploring local dinosaur discoveries. What a wonderful adventure – to enjoy the remote beauty of this area, accompanied by a famed paleontologist with the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

“Basically, this family event is a way to preserve our land in a good way,” said Lassen. “We want to attract visitors to explore the outdoors.”