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Calusa Heritage Day set for March 10

By Staff | Feb 21, 2012

Photo provided Last year the community had the opportunity to learn how to make a basket at the annual Calusa Heritage Day.

The Calusa Heritage Day will grace the island again for the seventh year offering some new attractions for the community to enjoy.

Programs and services coordinator Cindy Bear said due to the Randell Research Center’s mission, “As we learn we teach,” organizers thought it would be a great idea to bring additional experts in one time during the year at one place to offer a day of fun.

Now in its seventh year, the Calusa Heritage Day, Bear said, is well attended. She said last year around 800 people journeyed out to the Calusa Heritage Trail for a day of fun, which they hope will attract even more this year.

She said she enjoys the wealth of information and knowledge that everyone brings together for the annual Calusa Heritage Day.

“It brings it to life again,” she said. “I can imagine even more of the vitality of the site when the Calusa was there, when I have a gathering like this. It makes it vibrant.”

The Calusa Heritage Day will be held March 10 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Calusa Heritage Trail at the Randell Research Center located at 13810 Waterfront Drive.

This year the event will feature a new tour – a boat ride from 12-1:30 p.m. Captiva Cruises and RRC will provide a narrated archaeological tour through Pine Island Sound.

“This is brand new,” Bear said.

Tickets for the tour can be purchased ahead of time or at the event for $25 for adults and $15 for students.

Those interested in taking the tour will board a 45-foot Santiva vessel at Tarpon Lodge after meeting their guide at the information tent at Calusa Heritage Day.

In addition, individuals can come by boat to the Calusa Heritage Day. Captiva Cruises will offer a ride from Captiva Island’s McCarthy Marina across Pine Island Sound to the docks at Tarpon Lodge. The boat will depart McCarthy Marina at 9 a.m.

Those who board the boat will receive a narrated tour of the harbor and its fish shacks. The passengers will stay at the event for two hours.

The boat ride and festival admission is $45 for adults and $35 for children. Reservations are required by calling Captiva Cruises at 239-472-5300.

Bear said they also have a different group of exhibitors and vendors that they did not have in the past. She said the majority of the speakers are also new this year.

The first speaker is Dr. Bill Marquardt, executive director of the Randell Research Center and curator for archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. He will speak about shell tools at 11 a.m.

Dr. Robin Brown, author of “Florida’s First People,” will provide a speech on wetlands preservation at noon. She will touch upon how wetlands preserve ancient materials, along with what types of items have been preserved.

At 1 p.m., Dr. Joanne Muller, Florida Gulf Coast University paleoclimatologist, will speak about future directions in Southwest Florida Paleoclimatology.

Nathan Lawres will present a speech at 2 p.m. about how the environment shapes war and the environmental impacts on Seminole combat behaviors. He is an archaeologist field assistant for the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Archaeology Section and M.A. candidate for the University of Central Florida.

The keynote speech, Calusa and Climate, will take place at 3 p.m. by Karen Walker, research and collections manager of archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

“All of our speakers will weave in the theme of environmental change since the Randell Research Center site has been occupied for 2,000 years and much has happened including a major hurricane event in 300 A.D.,” Bear said.

The classroom exhibits, which come down from the museum, will all have a different emphasis during the event.

The event will also feature native plants and artists, along with storyteller and author Gerald Hausman, who will provide two performances at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the event will feature hands-on Calusa inspired arts and crafts, along with face painting and an opportunity to meet live reptiles.

Atlatl throwing, which is throwing of a stick that was developed long before bow and arrow and used by the Calusa, will take place all day long.

The trail walks this year will be more of a nature trail, Bear said, to provide more opportunities to take guided tours of the main Calusa. The walks will take place hourly from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Food will be available for sale from Little Lilly’s Island Deli and Mel Meo’s fish wagon.