August 2, 2014

Rain, dinosaurs bring kids, families out to EdVenture

The interactive Dinosaur: The Land of Fire and Ice exhibit proved the perfect antidote to a soggy Saturday in the Midlands, drawing tiny visitors and big ones alike to one of Columbia’s most unique destinations.

Dinosaurs may have last lived on Earth millions of years ago, but they still hold a major fascination for the young and the old.

An interactive exhibit of the prehistoric animals, “Dinosaur: The Land of Fire and Ice,” helped keep things popping at the EdVenture museum this weekend, proving to be the perfect antidote for a soggy Saturday in the Midlands.

“Today’s been pretty busy – we’ve had a rainy day, so it’s been pretty steady,” said Ben Hawfield, who oversees floor activity at EdVenture. More than 1,700 visitors came through the museum’s doors Saturday, nearly double the 1,000 or so visitors who typically show up on a Saturday.

Sponsored by Aflac, Bank of America and the city of Columbia, the dinosaur exhibit has been on display since June 6 and will remain through mid-October, Hawfield said. Patrons with Bank of America cards got into EdVenture free Saturday, which helped boost attendance, but rain typically draws families with children, and attendance has been up since the dinosaur exhibit opened two months ago, Hawfield said.

The exhibit is on loan from the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

Jennifer Hall of Williamston, her three sons, Aden, 7, Bryson, 3, and Cameron, 1, came to EdVenture and the dinosaur show, bringing her mother, Andrea Hennessee of Willingboro, N.J. “We were actually going to go to the zoo, but it was raining,” said Hennessee. “This is nice because it’s (more) interactive. They get to do hands-on stuff, climb around.”

The kids didn’t do all the climbing by themselves. Hall and Hennessee got into the act by posing together for photos on an Edmontosaurus, the giant lizard species from Edmonton, Canada, which survived millions of years ago on leaves and twigs.

“It was fun,” said Hall, a first-time EdVenture visitor. Williamston is about two hours northwest of Columbia in Anderson County.

Stephanie Easterwood of Lexington visited the dinosaur exhibit Saturday with her mother and father, Gary and Alicetyne Belcher, and her two sons, Jayden, 9, and Ethan Easterwood, 3.

“The dinosaur show; family day with the kids; it’s raining outside,” said Easterwood, which equated to an ideal day for visiting EdVenture, she said.

Aside from the dinosaurs, grocery shopping on the first floor of the museum is also a big hit, with parents and grandparents, and the kids. Jason and Ashley Williams of Chapin visited the museum Saturday along with Jason’s mother, and her family friend, Diane, who grocery-shopped “play-play” with her granddaughter.

“It’s a great place where the kids can come play, instead of sitting behind a video game,” said Jason Williams, who moved his family here two months ago from Columbus, Ga. They moved here because his wife, Ashley, took a job at Aflac, one of the dinosaur show’s local sponsors.

It was their second EdVenture visit since the move. “The last time we came it was sunny and perfect outside,” Williams said. “But it’s more about her (his daughter), being hands-on and being able to learn and play with educational devices.

“She loves it. She absolutely loves it,” Williams said.

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