Ad Spot

December 2, 2020

Prehistoric Prey: Dinosaur Hunt to be held at the Rowan County Fairgrounds this weekend

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Fairgrounds will be transformed into a prehistoric park this weekend as the Dakota and Friends dinosaur show hosts its second-ever Dino Hunt.

From their cars, visitors will be able to take aim and shoot Nerf guns at more than 20 “zombified” animatronic dinosaurs stationed around the fairgrounds. Some raptors will roam around the fairgrounds and visitors will be able to see a baby dinosaur hatch from an egg.

The idea for the Dino Hunt came from Ed Bounds, who created the Dakota and Friends show about eight years ago after having an epiphany while volunteering at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. As a volunteer at the zoo, Bounds primarily worked with chimpanzees. But one day Bounds was given an assignment nobody wanted: he was asked to man the dinosaur puppet show that the zoo was presenting at a nearby school.

“I didn’t want to help with the dinosaur thing, but my wife talked me into it,” Bounds said. “They couldn’t get anyone to hold the puppets.”

While it wasn’t a job that Bounds was looking forward to, it soon became something he loved.

“I was just trying to help. When the day was over, the parents couldn’t drag their kids away from me,” Bounds said. “I wasn’t trying to keep them there. I was just holding a baby dinosaur that looked real.”

That’s when the lightbulb went off.

“After a few weeks of that, I told my wife that I was quitting my job and that I was going to do a dinosaur show,” Bounds said.

The same person who talked him into volunteering to puppet the dinosaur in the first place quickly tried to talk him out of it. Bounds said that his wife told him he was crazy for pursuing the project. In response he told her to “just watch” and began to plan Dakota and Friends.

Since starting the show, Bounds has become a fixture at county fairs, minor league baseball games, birthday parties and libraries in the state and across the country. One of his main clients has been the ImagineOn center in Charlotte, but he’s also thrown out a first pitch in a dinosaur costume for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers minor league team. As his business continued to grow, he kept adding more dinosaurs, growing his collection to about 20. Along with Tyrannosauruses and Triceratopses, Bounds’ animatronic menagerie includes a unicorn and a “llamacorn.”

The Dakota and Friends dinosaur show features a baby reptile hatching from an egg. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post

When COVID-19 shut down ball games and county fairs and prevented him from showing off his dinosaurs at other events, Bounds knew that he would have to get creative. Thinking outside the box, Bounds decided to show off his Jurassic beasts in a new way — a dinosaur hunt that would be safe and engaging.

“I remember hearing about drive-thru safaris when I was a kid, so I took that idea and I set up my dinosaurs at the Rowan County fairgrounds and let people drive through and shoot their Nerf guns at the dinosaurs,” Bounds said.

The first Dino Hunt event was held at the fairgrounds during the last weekend of September and was a “smash hit.” Bounds said that hundreds of people participated.

“We had traffic backed both ways on (Interstate) 85,” Bounds said. “It was incredible.”

In the last month, Bounds and his crew evaluated what worked and what didn’t at the first dino hunt and have plans to make this “zombified” version even better. Jamin Skipper, who has worked to coordinate lights and sound for Dakota and Friends for about three years, said that this version will be even brighter and will feature more performance-based aspects.

“It’s bigger and better than the last one because that was our first one,” Skipper said. “We figured out what things cause problems with traffic flow, we’ve added a few things in. With it getting darker early,  we’re going to do a lot more with lighting to add dramatic impact.”

Ed Bounds has become an expert on dinosaurs so that his shows can be educational and entertaining. Ben Stansell/Salisbury Post

While Bounds encourages visitors to bring their own Nerf-style guns, he said that plastic guns and foam bullets will be sold at the beginning of the hunt. While guests will not be able to keep the foam darts once they shoot them at the roaming raptors, the bullets won’t be wasted.

“Since you can’t get out of your car, you can’t recollect the bullets, but we pick them up, sanitize them and we’re going to take them to Camp Happy Days,” Skipper said.

Camp Happy Days is a camp based in Charleston, South Carolina, that provides support and encouragement to children battling cancer through engaging programs that are cost-free for families. The Dakota and Friends dino show visits Camp Happy Days almost every summer.

Bounds said that being able to put a smile on the face of children who have faced hardships is his favorite part about what he does.

“Mr. Rogers always said to look for helpers. I want to be one of those helpers,” Bounds said. “Now is my chance to do something beneficial and honest to goodness that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The “zombified” Dino Hunt will be held at the Rowan County Fairgrounds from 12-10 p.m. on Friday, 12 p.m. – 12 a.m. on Saturday and on Sunday from 12-8 p.m. Tickets will be $30 at the gate and $20 in advance. For more information about the Dino Hunt, visit the event’s facebook page.

Comments

Business

State names Rowan among most economically distressed counties

High School

High school volleyball: South Rowan wins another CCC match

Education

Catawba College’s Service of Lessons and Carols moves virtual

Local

Spencer’s Park Plaza financing gets OK from state’s Local Government Commission

Education

Kannapolis City Schools to hold public hearing on construction equity policy

Local

Drivers identified in I-85 double vehicle crash, fire

Local

Driver cited in two-vehicle Mooresville Road collision

Crime

Tractor stolen from Ritchie Road

Coronavirus

North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd tests positive for COVID-19

Crime

Blotter: Vehicles broken into overnight at Marriott, Comfort Suites hotels

Coronavirus

County reports two new COVID-19 deaths, two weeks of 50-case daily increases

Local

Red wolves have been busy growing up at Dan Nicholas Park

Local

Salisbury City Council to consider contract for street paving

Education

Catawba College honors employees for length of service

High School

High school football: Clay hopes for big senior season

Local

Helen, Ralph Brown contribute to Christmas Happiness to help people in need

Cleveland

Cleveland Police charge woman with attempted murder after Sunday night shooting

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in Rowan continue to surge after 50 new cases added; 19% of total cases active

Local

Salisbury Police investigating accidental shooting at apartment building

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man arrested on felony counts of trafficking

Local

Motorcyclist airlifted following wreck on Jake Alexander Boulevard Sunday

Elections

Political Notebook: Senate Republicans disagree with Cooper administration halting CARES Act spending

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about legality of begging in Salisbury, Dominion voting machines

Local

Biden fractures foot while playing with dog, to wear a boot