Tyrannosaurus Rex Sue's life-sized replica will be part of dinosaur-themed campaign in Topeka in 2022

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'Topeka Dino Days' will be held early next year in the capital city.
'Topeka Dino Days' will be held early next year in the capital city.

Eighteen robotic dinosaurs are coming to Topeka.

So is a 40-foot-long replica of Sue, the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever discovered.

Visit Topeka and its partners in attracting tourism shared that news Monday while announcing that a series of dinosaur-themed attractions will be on display here early next year as part of a campaign called "Topeka Dino Days."

Topeka Dino Days will be "huge" for the capital city, said Sean Dixon, president of Visit Topeka, the city's official destination marketing organization.

"We can't wait for families and dinosaur enthusiasts alike to see Topeka put on a show of prehistoric proportions," he said.

'Dino-rific'

Sean Dixon, president of Visit Topeka, spoke at a news conference held Monday to announce a campaign called "Topeka Dino Days" would take place early next year.
Sean Dixon, president of Visit Topeka, spoke at a news conference held Monday to announce a campaign called "Topeka Dino Days" would take place early next year.

Dixon spoke at a news conference held Monday at the Great Overland Station, 701 N. Kansas Ave.

Other speakers included Topeka Zoo director Brendan Wiley, who said Topeka Dino Days would be "dino-rific," and Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, who said it would be "dino-mite," borrowing the term from the 1970s TV sitcom "Good Times."

Topeka Dino Days will feature core exhibits at three locations, as well as other displays elsewhere, organizers said.

Some of the details, including times and ticket prices, haven't been worked out, Dixon said.

The exhibits are generally expected to be available from late January through late May. Some, including the one at the Topeka Zoo, will continue well into the summer.

Sean Dixon said "Topeka Dino Days" will include a 40-foot replica of Sue, a Tyrannosaurus Rex found in 1990 in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Sean Dixon said "Topeka Dino Days" will include a 40-foot replica of Sue, a Tyrannosaurus Rex found in 1990 in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

'Runaround Sue'

A Feb. 1 opening date has been set for the core exhibit at the Great Overland Station featuring 40-foot-long cast replica of Sue. The dinosaur's actual skeleton is on display at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

The skeleton was discovered in 1990 in the Black Hills of South Dakota and named after Sue Hendrickson, the woman who found it.

Sue has been on display since 2000 at the Field Museum.

Since 2002, that museum has made available high-quality replicas of the skeleton, known as "Runaround Sues," for public display throughout the nation. The replica coming to Topeka is one of those.

Plans also call for the exhibit at the Great Overland Station to feature touchable fossil replicas, scent stations and a naturalistic soundscape aimed at creating an immersive, multi-sensory experience.

"When the county assumed ownership of Great Overland Station last year, we had no idea an exhibit like Sue would find a home here," said Shawnee County Commission Chairman Kevin Cook. "We're proud to partner with Visit Topeka and others to make it happen."

'Dinosaur Eggs and Babies'

Eighteen full-sized robotic dinosaurs, which are capable of making noise, will be on display at the Topeka Zoo in Gage Park, Wiley said.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Children's Discovery Center in that park will offer a colorful, hands-on, interactive "Dinosaur Eggs and Babies" exhibit, which will include a collection of real dinosaur eggs, said its president and CEO, Dené Mosier.

Those preserved eggs come from all over the globe, and from each of the major herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaur groups.

In addition, Visit Topeka will display a full-sized replica cast of an Allosaurus skeleton in its Visitors Center at 719 S. Kansas Ave, Suite 100.

Dixon encouraged local businesses to contact Visit Topeka if they also wish to become involved in some manner.

'What a cool experience'

Speakers at Monday's news conference spoke positively of the collaboration between the partners involved.

Those are Visit Topeka, the Topeka Zoo, the Kansas Children's Discovery Center, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, Downtown Topeka Inc. and the Topeka Lodging Association.

Putting on the event will cost a total of about $500,000, Dixon said.

About 5% of those costs will be covered by local tax dollars, with those being used to underwrite the free Allosaurus experience in Visit Topeka's downtown Visitors Center. The remaining balance is covered by various sources, largely transit guest ax dollars collected from out-of-town visitors.

Visit Topeka estimates Topeka Dino Days could bring 100,000 additional visitors to Topeka, injecting an additional $4 million to $5 million into the local economy through lodging, dining and retail.

"What a cool experience this will be for Topeka," De La Isla said. "Topeka Dino Days is sure to be a boost for our local economy, as visitors from across Kansas and around the region travel to our capital city for exciting family fun."

She added, "The bar is set high for the future of tourism in Topeka."

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: 'Topeka Dinosaur Days' next year to feature prehistoric-themed fun

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