Skip to main content

Celebrate stone heritage at Limestone Fest

By Indiana Geological and Water Survey

June 07, 2024

Three people gathered around a display table at Limestone Fest Indiana Geological and Water Survey director and state geologist Todd Thompson talks to visitors during the 2022 Limestone Fest. Photo by Kristen Wilkins, Indiana Geological and Water Survey How do you tell limestone from other types of stone? How do caves form, and why are there so many in this area? 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 third annual Limestone Fest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 15.

Hosted by the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, the free family-friendly event brings together geologists and representatives from other cultural, science and outdoor-related entities to celebrate Limestone Month in Indiana. About 400 local residents and visitors attended last year’s festival.

Activities will be set up mostly behind the Survey’s office at 1001 E. 10th St. in the grassy Northwest Quad on Cottage Grove Avenue. Free parking is available in the neighboring Forrest Avenue garage.

The Indiana Geological and Water Survey Learning Lab also will be open on the first floor of the building. Visitors can pull open drawers and handle thousands of rock, mineral and fossil specimens that had been mostly inaccessible to the public before the Learning Lab was created two years ago.

Outside booths and activities at Limestone Fest will include:

  • Indiana Geological and Water Survey scientists and volunteers teaching about the fossils that make up limestone; pointing out hiking attractions on topographic maps; offering children’s crafts and games; and providing popcorn and sno-cones.
  • WonderLab Museum offering painting with lime paint and acid-based reactions with limestone.
  • Bloomington Parks and Recreation displaying a karst water model and a 3D-printed cave.
  • The Indiana Karst Conservancy sharing information on cave fauna and safe caving techniques.
  • The Indiana Limestone Institute of America discussing how and why limestone is used in buildings.
  • The Lawrence County Historical and Genealogical Society talking about Lawrence County’s limestone history.

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

Outdoor showings of two films that feature limestone are new to the festival this year. “Breaking Away,” the classic movie set in Bloomington, will begin at approximately 1:30 p.m., and a Science Channel documentary called “Unearthed: Secrets of the Empire State Building” will begin around noon.

Indiana Geological and Water Survey education and outreach coordinator Polly Sturgeon will give a talk on the geoheritage of Indiana limestone between 11 a.m. and noon in the event tent.

Other summer limestone-related events include:

  • Indiana Geological and Water Survey director and state geologist Todd Thompson will give a presentation on the geology of Salem limestone at the Ellettsville Public Library from 5:30 to 7 p.m. June 11.
  • The Survey will give limestone campus walking tours starting at the IU Sample Gates from 3 to 5 p.m. June 13 and from 10 a.m. to noon July 16 and 20.