Road­side AT­TRAC­TION

Monty the T-Rex gets the party started

The Day - Sound & Country - - Attraction - By SU­SAN BAN­NING Day Staff Writer

IIf you spend much time on Route 85 go­ing through Ch­ester­field, you drive by Monty the T-Rex all the time. But you haven’t re­ally thought about when his birth­day is, have you? In gen­eral, you prob­a­bly fig­ure it was 75,000,000 years ago. Ac­tu­ally, he’s turn­ing 8, and Na­ture’s Art is throw­ing a birth­day cel­e­bra­tion to honor him on Colum­bus Day week­end (Oct.11-13). Monty’s age co­in­cides with how long the at­trac­tion has been at this lo­ca­tion, so all the more rea­son for a party.

The Fall Fes­ti­val/Mon­tyma­nia of­fers free events all week­end long that are de­signed to keep a fam­ily en­ter­tained, from fun birth­day games to di­nosaur tat­toos to dec­o­rat­ing birth­day hats for Monty.

“The week­end is all about fun,” said Cor­rina Fer­gu­son, a co-owner of Na­ture’s Art and di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing. “It’s ridicu­lously silly to have a birth­day party for a 32-foot T-Rex.”

It’s a per­fect time to make scare­crows, so there will be a scare­crow­build­ing con­test that is open to all. You can cre­ate all week­end long, and judg­ing takes place on Mon­day and a prize awarded then.

“Of course, we’re hop­ing some­one will build a di­nosaur,” Fer­gu­son said.

“It’s so much fun to see th­ese birds up so close,” Fer­gu­son said. “You don’t ap­pre­ci­ate how big they are un­til you see them up close. The adap­ta­tions, such as those that os­preys have with their talons that al­low them to pivot, are fas­ci­nat­ing.”

Th­ese events are all free; if you want to par­tic­i­pate in other fea­tures of Na­ture’s Art such as pan­ning for gold or dig­ging for gems, ad­mis­sion ap­plies. The ad­mis­sion at this time of the year is a blan­ket $9 each for every­one from 2-59; over and un­der that are free. The at­trac­tion is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., but Fer­gu­son said that the free events are gen­er­ally tak­ing place in the 11 a.m.-4 p.m. win­dow.

While the staff at Na­ture’s Art would be de­lighted if you ex­plore the en­tire fa­cil­ity, this is not a week­end about mak­ing the cash reg­is­ters ring. Fer­gu­son, who lives in the same town as her com­pany, sees it as all about com­mu­nity.

“It’s so im­por­tant for busi­nesses to be part of their com­mu­ni­ties,” she said. “Monty’s party is some­thing light­hearted that is our way of reach­ing out to the com­mu­nity. That’s some­thing we all need th­ese days.”

In ad­di­tion to the ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on out­side, there will be pre­sen­ta­tions in the class­rooms that will be in­ter­est­ing for all ages. You can learn about the Na­ture of the Seashore, where an ex­pert will be on hand with touch tanks to get kids in­volved in learn­ing about crea­tures up-close.

“Hands-on ed­u­ca­tion is so im­por­tant to us,” Fer­gu­son said.

The ex­pert will dis­cuss crea­tures that are “liv­ing fos­sils,” such as the horse­shoe crab, the stur­geon and drag­on­flies… crea­tures that have sur­vived var­i­ous ex­tinc­tion events (un­like Monty’s Cre­ta­ceous-pe­riod peers).

Also on hand, with links to the “liv­ing fos­sil” cat­e­gory, is Re­gal Rep­tiles, which will do a rep­tile pre­sen­ta­tion that ties in nicely with Monty’s theme, as rep­tiles and di­nosaurs share an in­ter­est­ing con­nec­tion. At last year’s party, an al­bino python that kids got to hold and pet was a big hit.

An­other dis­tant rel­a­tive of the di­nosaur, the bird, will get its due thanks to Hori­zonWings, a bird of prey re­ha­bil­i­ta­tor that will talk about ea­gles and hawks and ev­ery­thing in be­tween, as well as have some of the ma­jes­tic birds on hand.

BIRDS OF PREY LIKE THESE FROM HORI­ZON WINGS WILL BE PART OF THE MONTYMANIA PRO­GRAM. PHO­TOS COURTESY OF NA­TURE’S ART.

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