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First Indiana Limestone Month Festival celebrates state stone

How do you carve limestone? Where are the best places to hike in the stone belt? What’s up with all the dry-stacked stone walls around Monroe County? Why are so many things built with limestone, and how important is that industry to this region?

If you want to know more about Indiana’s official state stone, local experts will fill you in at the Limestone Month Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 4. Hosted by the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, this free, family-friendly event will bring together survey geologists and representatives from other science- and outdoor-related entities to kick off Limestone Month in Indiana.

Activities will be set up mostly behind the Indiana Geological and Water Survey office, 1001 E. 10th St., in the new grassy Northwest Quad on Cottage Grove Avenue. The survey’s new Learning Lab also will be open on the first floor of the IGWS/Geological Sciences building, where visitors can pull open drawers and handle thousands of rock, mineral and fossil specimens that had, until recently, been mostly inaccessible to the public.

The Learning Lab was created in tandem with a two-year, IU-funded, $10 million renovation to the IGWS building. The IGWS will host an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 3 which the public is invited to attend, as well. Teachers are especially welcome to visit the Learning Lab between 4 and 6 p.m. Friday.

Outside booths and activities at Saturday’s Limestone Festival will include:

  • Indiana Geological and Water Survey scientists teaching about the fossils that make up limestone and the geology of Indiana’s stone belt; pointing out hiking attractions on topographic maps; and offering campus limestone tours.
  • Visit Bloomington promoting other Limestone Month activities.
  • Bloomington Parks and Recreation displaying a karst water model and a 3D-printed cave.
  • Monroe County Historic Preservation talking about limestone heritage, dry-stacked stone walls and the memorial restoration project on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn.
  • The Indiana Limestone Institute of America discussing the economic impact of limestone on the local community.
  • Indiana Master Naturalist teaching about nature opportunities in the stone belt.
  • Artisan Experience demonstrating basic carving techniques and tools and offering 6- by-6-inch limestone pieces to carve yourself ($25).

Visitors who stop by each booth will be eligible to win a prize.