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Not Your Typical Rock Show
By Ashton Zimmerman
When I tell people I’m going to a rock show with my dad they give me strange looks, “Your dad?!” I can see how they would be confused. My dad probably wouldn’t enjoy ear-piercing music and a crowd full of head bangers. Which is why when I say we’re going to a rock show, I mean actual rocks.
We frequent rock and mineral shows about every year, and this year was no exception. We attended the 51st Annual Gem and Mineral Show held at the KCI Expo Center.
If you’ve never been to a rock and gem show, then it might not be what you are expecting. It’s not just a large room with dusty, dirty rocks covering a bunch of tables. Although, seeing rocks in their “raw” form is what many come to see.
There’s something divine about seeing unaltered, intricate pieces of nature: quartz crystals which reflect the rainbow, petrified wood with their unique fossilization, geodes that are rough and ugly on the outside but have bright, sparkling crystals on the inside, a magnifying rock called calcite, or barite rose which actually has the appearance of blooming roses.
Others go to see the art that is created by man. Minerals and gems are cut, tumbled, and shined so that they make the form the crafter intends. There are little figurines of cats, birds, elephants, dolphins, turtles, and about any other animal you could imagine. Pebble-sized gems are even twisted with wire and fastened to a base to form little rock-plants which remind me of bonsai trees.
What I really come for is the jewelry. These gems are the real deal. Pendants, rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets can all be found catering to a variety of tastes. There’s always an array of colors, vendors providing customers with their birthstones from January’s garnet to December’s turquoise, zircon, or tanzanite.
The rock show could be about looking at all the minerals and gems and buying which ones strike your interest. Yet, what I find to be the true purpose of these rock shows is education.
Curiosity abounds at the rock show. The administrators cater to this by setting aside a room full of scientific displays, showing things such as how fossils are formed. Lectures are also announced over the loud speaker as well as mentioned in the pamphlet received upon entering. Vendors are also willing to share with you every detail of the specimens they have displayed. “This rock comes from Mexico,” “This one forms after a volcanic eruption,” and so forth.
The show accommodates all. It especially fuels the interest of children by offering things such as panning for gold. My favorite aspect of the show is the giant dinosaur named Mr. Bones (operated by Timothy Seeber) who walks around the center chopping on children as he goes.
All in all, I had a rockin’ time.