Artists Alison Jean Cole, Anna Evans, and Lisa Ward, and Epicenter hosted the first Green River Rock & Mineral Festival at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum from March 31st to April 2nd, 2017. The festival began with a lecture on important dinosaur discoveries in the Green River area by Utah State Paleontologist Dr. Jim Kirkland. The rest of the weekend featured expert-led field trips to local geological sites as well as vendors, craft demonstrators, family activities, and an exhibit of locals’ favorite rocks titled “My Favorite Rock.”
BLM regional paleontologist Greg McDonald led an exploration of Fossil Point, a colorful Jurassic fossil bed located 12.6 miles south of Green River. Greg brought the area to life and helped visitors identify fossil bearing sites, explain fossil and mineral collecting rules on public lands, and helped us envision what this place may have looked like 145 million years ago.
BLM regional paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster led visitors to the Copper Ridge & Mill Creek dinosaur track sites located 30 miles south of Green River. These sites feature the tracks of one long-necked, plant eating sauropod dinosaur and four three-toed dinosaurs preserved for 150 million years.
Steve Acerson of the Utah Rock Art Association led a tour of beautiful Sego Canyon located 20 miles east of Green River. At this site, visitors viewed petroglyphs and pictographs from three separate indigenous cultures (some dating as far back as 7,000 B.C.) on the walls of the canyon. Acerson shared both the history of the sites as well as his interpretations of the rock art. The rock art in Sego Canyon is some of the best in the world.
Artist Kirsten Southwell giving faceting demonstrations to festival attendees.
Back at the festival headquarters, visitors enjoyed rock and mineral vendors, faceting demonstrations by artist Kirsten Southwell, information booths, a food vendor, and the “My Favorite Rock” exhibit. Also at the museum, a dry-stack stone wall was constructed to celebrate the architectural history of Southeastern Utah. Elsewhere in town Gary & Kelly Orona hosted an open house at their Savage Territory Gallery, and West Winds hosted a karaoke night.
In the future the festival will become an annual city event that continues deepening Green River’s connection to geology, paleontology, archeology, and the surrounding landscape. The current City Council has shown support in making this an annual event and plan to include the festival in next year’s City budget. Stay tuned to GreenRiverRocks.com for next year’s dates.
The 2017 Green River Rock & Mineral Festival was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program, as well as the Emery County Travel Board, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, City of Green River, J. W. Powell River History Museum, Alison Jean Cole, Anna Evans, and Lisa Ward. Special thanks to The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Colorado River & Trail Expeditions (CRATE), Columbia Willamette Faceters Guild, Rebecca Davis, Jim Kirkland – Utah Geological Survey, Knight’s Inn (Green River), Jackie Nelson, Gary & Kelly Orona – Savage Territory Gallery, Robbers Roost Motel, Kirsten Southwell, Julie Steuer, The Tamarisk Restaurant, West Winds Restaurant, and Amy Wilmarth – Green River Coffee Co., and AmeriCorps NCCC & VISTA.
Short film and photos by Ryan Baxter.