Rockhounds weather storm at 69th show
After a stormy set-up night on June 20, the 69th annual All Rockhounds Powwow Club of America's Rock, Gem and Mineral Show had a pleasant four-day run at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds last week.
An estimated 80 booths displayed a variety of cut and uncut rocks, rough and polished stones, jewelry and tools and findings for making your own jewelry at the event, which opened Thursday, June 21, and ran through Sunday, June 24.
In response to a warning about the impending storm on June 20, Lois Green, of Prineville, noted that she had covered her tables and moved the more fragile items inside her trailer. "This morning, there was a pile of metal over there," said Green, gesturing toward the exhibit buildings. "A dump truck came and took it away. It was quite a storm; the trailer was actually rocking."
Green and her husband, David, are "hobbyists," rather that full-time rockhounds, who collect mostly local rocks and gemstones. "We don't do the circuit — just Madras and Prineville."
Bend resident Dalton Early, of DME Fossils and Stones, of Bend, also safely weathered the storm, and was busy at his booth on Friday.
"I've done this the last five years," said Early. "It's like a little vacation; I get to meet people and make some money."
Early participates in 12 shows a year, including the Jefferson County show. "I like it," he said. "It's why I keep coming back."
Tiffany Troite, of Sweet Home, who came to the show to support her husband, a rockhound, invited her sister, Tina Troite, of Bend, to walk around the show with her and her kids, Zoey, 8, and Sam, 5.
"I'm impressed," said Tina Troite, who was excited by all the jewelry displayed at the booths. "I got two pairs of earrings," she said. "There's some really cool jewelry."
Jeweler Bill Belli, of Redmond, made the short trip to the show to check out stones on display at the booth of Jason Fabbi, of Las Vegas, who is a regular at the show.
"I've bought stuff from Jason for five years," said Belli, who likes the Jefferson County show the best of the shows he's attended. "Madras is the most versatile and it's the best blend of everything to do with rocks."
Hazrat Nazif, of Gems and Mineral, of Los Angeles, had a booth at the show for the fifth year. Nazif, whose booth displayed a variety of cut and uncut rocks and minerals, including slabs of the semi-precious, blue lapis lazuli, said this year was a little slow.
"The rain and the wind made it a little scary for some people," said Nazif, who sells to customers from as far away as Canada, and was optimistic that the weekend would be better. "There are two more days."
Whether or not he makes a lot of sales, John Paulas, another regular, who typically has the first booth inside the gates — Africa John's Fabulous Stone Beads — was just enjoying the visit and the moderate weather (after Wednesday's storm).
"You can't get a cheaper vacation," he said. "It's $50 bucks for a booth (for four days)."