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The annual rock, gem and mineral show will be at the Crook County Fairgrounds June 17-20

PHOTO COURTESY OF BOWMAN MUSEUM
 - The photo shown above was taken in the mid-1960s, shortly after the annual Rockhound Pow Wow began in Prineville. It was originally 10 days long, with many events taking place. The event has always been held at the Crook County Fairgrounds.

The annual Prineville Rockhound Pow Wow will be held once again this year, despite having to be canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

This marks the 75th year of the jewelry, gem and mineral show, which has been held each year at the Crook County Fairgrounds. The event includes three field trips for rocks digs at Bear Creek, two private ranches, and a free dig to McDonald's Ranch for petrified wood, thundereggs and agate.

The Rockhound Pow Wow will begin 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 17 until 5 p.m. on June 19. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 20. Admission is free. There will be a selection of materials, tools and machines. In addition, there will be a wide variety of precious stones, including jade, petrified wood, jasper, plume agate, limb casts, moss gate and thundereggs. There is always an eclectic selection of jewelry.

On Saturday, June 19, there will be an auction in the evening. The auction will be located in the large tent located at the Crook County Fairgrounds. It will consist of donations from the dealers from the show, including rocks, gems and jewelry. The proceeds go toward promoting and advertising for the show for the next year. It is free and open to the public.

The Grizzly Mountain Pavilion will have 12 vendors, and outside on the grounds there will be more than 60 vendors.

The event originally fell under the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies. Otis Ricker is the current president for the Prineville Pow Wow Association, and Ron Metcalf, vice president and acting president, indicated that the federation show eventually relocated annually to Madras. When it moved, it left a gap between shows for the rockhounds who went from show to show, and since they went all across the county, they scheduled accordingly. The show in Prineville was founded because of this issue.

"They didn't have that break in their schedule, and that is how it got started," added his wife, Amy Metcalf, of the beginnings of the Prineville rock and mineral show.

She also vividly remembers how the designation of the show gained its name. The name was a distinction to honor the culture of the Native Americans. When their people got together and had a pow wow, they got together for sports, games, fellowshipping and trading.

"That is what they were doing as rockhounds, so that is why they called it the Pow Wow … it was an appropriate term for what they were doing," she noted.

Amy grew up with the Rockhound Pow wow, and her father, Rulan Officer, was one of the original founders. In the beginning years, it was initially a 10-day show.

"My most fond memories would have to be the entertainment," Amy recalled of those early days.

There was lots of entertainment early on with a variety of shows, including The Old Time Fiddlers and the Warm Springs Tribe — who presented a cultural dance.

"It varied from year to year," she added.

Amy cherished the time she spent with other kids during the event, whose parents came to the show each year. They also accompanied the adults in field trips for rock digs during the duration of the rock show.

"At that time, it was more of a casual tailgating type thing," Ron said.

Rockhounds and professionals in the field came from around the world and included visitors from as far as Quartzsite and Tucson, Arizona. Amy recalls a couple who came from Holland three years consecutively. She said there are often rockhounds from Nevada, Montana, Florida, Arkansas and Idaho.

"It was an experience. I think you almost would have to of lived through it to really know. But everybody knew everybody, and they all looked out for the kids. Even now, there are people who come every year and you get to know them, and you look forward to seeing them," she went on to say of the many friends and memories she has gained over the years.

Amy emphasized that rockhounding often begins with sharing the love of the trade. Amy's father was an influence on many others.

"Even if you are not talking directly to somebody, it gets passed on — that awe and that beauty and that desire to share that," she said of the tendency to get rockhounding in your blood.

Sidebar

The 75th Prineville Rockhound Pow Wow, jewelry, gem and mineral show

Location: Crook County Fairgrounds: 1280 S. Main St., Prineville

June 17-June 19: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

June 20: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free public auction: Saturday evening, time TBA

Field trips:

June 18: Free dig to Bear Creek, weather permitting

June 19: Two trips—fee digs on private ranches for thundereggs: Friends Ranch and Ochs Ranch

June 20: Field trip fee dig to McDonald's Ranch for petrified wood, thundereggs and agate

All field trips leave the fairgrounds at 7:30 a.m. sharp. Interested parties must sign up in advance and be a member of the Pow Wow.


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