Dinosaur Adventures: T. Rex comes to life at state fair

Adam, 6, left, reaches to pet, as his brother Nathaniel Boseman, 4, of Middletown roars at the T-Rex at Prehistoric Dinosaur Mobile Museum at the Delaware state Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Adam, 6, left, reaches to pet, as his brother Nathaniel Boseman, 4, of Middletown roars at the T-Rex at Prehistoric Dinosaur Mobile Museum at the Delaware state Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

HARRINGTON –– Fair goers may notice a new scaly addition moseying around crowds and taking pictures with kids –– Buster the baby T. Rex.

Buster is part of Prehistoric Dinosaur Adventures, a new feature at this year’s Fair. The main feature of the exhibit is a mobile museum housing fossil casts and placards full of dinosaur information.

“I didn’t plan on specifically getting into dinosaurs but I heard about cuts to other mobile dinosaur exhibits and wanted to offer something to help fill in that gap,” said Jim Hutching, owner of Dinosaur Adventures and president of its parent company Studio Magic.

The Tennessee-based Studio Magic focuses on fun, kid-oriented educational programs including anything from magicians to emus. The company founded in 2001 added the dinosaur program in 2012.

Owner Jim Hutching, left watches Liam, 7, and Adeline Wightman, , of Smyrna react to the walking T-Rex at Prehistoric Dinosaur Mobile Museum at the Delaware state Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Owner Jim Hutching, left watches Liam, 7, and Adeline Wightman, , of Smyrna react to the walking T-Rex at Prehistoric Dinosaur Mobile Museum at the Delaware state Fair on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

He did research about what previous mobile units like the Smithsonian did and recreated it on a smaller scale.

“Their display was in a semi, so it just wasn’t economically savvy to take it all over the country,” he said. “I tried to learn everything I could from what they did and reproduce it on a smaller scale but have it still be a high-quality museum.”

Although his mobile museum is significantly smaller than a semi, it has between 500,000 and 1 million pairs of feet travel through each year in almost every area of the country.

“In the past we’ve usually stuck to the midwest and west coast but we recently started exploring the north east corridor and this is our first time in Delaware,” Mr. Hutching said.

The walls of the museum are lined with fossil casts ranging from specimens only a couple inches long all the way to a huge T-Rex skull.

“All of these are genuine casts of real fossils and unlike in a museum, you’re allowed to touch everything in here, and we encourage people to touch it all,” he said.

The walking 6-foot T-Rex at Prehistoric Dinosaur Mobile Museum at the state fair.

The walking 6-foot T-Rex at Prehistoric Dinosaur Mobile Museum at the state fair.

There’s also a digital microscope and several insect specimens which can be viewed at 200 times magnification.

Despite everything that can be seen and done solo, Mr. Hutching is able to answer just about every question passers-through have about dinosaurs even though he never planned to be an educator.

“A few decades ago, I was doing magic but I married into a family of educators and that really influenced me to get into educational programming and now the dinosaur exhibit,” he said.

For the little kids, there’s a dig pit ––  a large sandbox with buried hand- sculpted fossils kids can search for using brushes like a paleontologist would on an actual dig.
The museum and dig are both free. The Dinosaur Adventure is located at the south end of the Machinery Lot.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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