65th annual show at fairgrounds

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Sandra Moar beads a bracelet while two of her dogs rest in her lap. Moar and Dean Banks, of Happy Valley, returned to the Rockhounds show at the fairgrounds for the second year.For 65 years, generations of rockhounds have been coming to Madras for the annual All Rockhounds Pow Wow Club of America's show, considered one of the best and oldest shows in the West.

More than 80 dealers set up shop at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, June 25, and stayed through Sunday, June 29.

Back for a second year were Sandra Moar and Dean Banks, of Happy Valley, who own Earth's Art, which sells custom petrified wood, jewelry and cabochons.

"I love the show," said Banks, a retired truck driver who is now a full-time rockhound, traveling to shows in Oregon, Washington and Arizona. "There are lots of good people."

Banks is a second-generation rockhound, who has been digging rocks with his father for many years. "My father's been doing it for over 40 years," Banks said. "He did the show years ago."

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Tony Kuklis displays a thunder egg.Retired toolmaker Tony Kuklis, of Powell Butte, has been selling rough rocks, agates and jasper at the show since 1996.

Originally from San Carlos, Calif., Kuklis first started digging for rocks in 1972, attended the Madras show as a customer in 1974, and started attending shows as a dealer in 1980, while still living and working in California.

The lure of the local show regularly brings him back to Madras.

"It's got a reputation all over the West," said Kuklis, who considers the show a tradition. "People from California come up here for this show primarily. It's probably the best gem show in the West."

Larry Ridley, of Boise, Idaho, owns the Willow Creek Jasper Mine, and attends four shows a year to sell the rock in cabs, slabs or rough form.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Larry Ridley, of Boise, Idaho, has been selling jasper from his mine at the local show for 24 years.Ridley started bringing his jasper to the local show in 1990, because "everybody said Madras was the best show."

Formerly the owner of a floor-covering business, Ridley was laid up with a back injury in 1983, when a neighbor took him out rock hunting so that Ridley could get some exercise, "and one thing led to another."

Mining and selling rocks — by mail order or at rock shows — now fills his time. "It's a neat hobby," he said.

This year's weather helped make the show successful, with moderate daytime temperatures, and rain only falling overnight, when dealers had packed up for the night.

"Overall, it's been a good show," said Ridley.

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