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Artifact show comes to city

Dozens of enthusiasts from around the state descended upon the civic center Sunday for a Native American artifact show sponsored by the Hillabee Archaeological Society. The society, which reportedly boasts approximately 100 members statewide, annually hosts similar exhibits in Huntsville, Prattville, Lineville and Alexander City.

“There’s nothing on this side of the state in this area,” Daryl White, a Demopolis native and host of Sunday’s show, said. “(The society) wanted something over here on the west side of the state.”

Sunday’s event, the first of its kind for the Black Belt, reportedly could become an annual staple for Demopolis if the society deems it beneficial.

“We’d like to (continue the event) if it’s successful, if it’s good for the society and well received,” White said of the prospect of hosting future shows in Demopolis.

“It can be (a good show),” Steve Todd, a member of HAS from Slapout who frequents the shows, said. “The first time is always going to be a little bit slow. People, once they find out about it, they look forward to it.”

Todd, who showed off his arrowhead collection at Sunday’s show, has been a member of the society for three years.

“I’ve been collecting since I was about 12 years old,” Todd said. “Most of these I’ve found since ’93.”

“My dad had one and he showed it to me,” Todd said of how he developed his interest in the artifacts. “He told us to get out of the house and go out in the field and find some. We loaded up that first trip down to the far corner of the cotton field. Me and my brother both just loaded up.”

Despite his willingness to drive from Slapout, Todd said he believed attendance at the show was inhibited by the panic-induced gasoline shortages that occurred around the state in anticipation of Hurricane Ike.

In addition to drawing society members, the display also welcomed a considerable number of locals who were just seeking to take in a piece of history.

“We’re just looking to see collections and what they’re worth,” Joe Wilson, who visited the exhibit with his wife, said. “We’ve got a good many (arrowheads), but they’re not like these you know.”

While the event had more than its share of arrowheads, it also featured an array of other artifacts from private collectors. Included among them was a walk-in piece brought by Demopolis’ Billy Carlisle.

“That was really, really, really a significant piece,” White said of the sandstone disc that was reportedly found in the Moundville area. “It awed several people and they were real glad he brought it in there.”

The event, which also allowed patrons to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win a variety of donated door prizes, was catered by Ezell’s.

“It was pretty well received,” White said of Demopolis’ first such event. All proceeds from the raffle go to benefit the Hillabee Archaeological Society.