51 venues this year ... Tucson is not shrinking!
In fact, the only thing in short supply here is parking, as the shows spread out on land around the city and to more and more industrial condo and tent sites. It is true that some of the veteran shows are disbanding and breaking up, but new ones have sprung up around Tucson -- the dealers move around and the crowds from around the world are here in droves.
We are lucky to have more than 2 weeks in Tucson to gawk and shop and explore, and even with that, we will not see half of what is here. Of course, some of that is on purpose ... These shows encompass everything from sidewalk Rastafarian dealers to ultra-high end minerals and our interest usually focuses on the middle of that spectrum.
In this, our 31st year visiting the Tucson gem and mineral shows, we hope to continue to share with you some of our impressions of this massive gathering of rockhounds.
The 22nd Street Show at I-10 is still expanding. They are open from January 30 to February 16, an astounding 18 days, and sell 350 vendor and exhibit booths in their location at the huge corner lot. Minerals, gems, fossils, dinosaurs, meteorites, jewelry, beads, and art -- all featured. A tiny bit of the variety in this 65,000 square foot venue is captured in the pics below.
The marketing of this huge marketplace is unmatched (in our opinion). The promoters claim to have budgeted $200,000 for advertising including 290 billboards and bus shelters, as well as in print media.
There are several dealers at 22nd Street that offer petrified wood, and if one is lucky, you might get the chance to unwrap some rocks "under the table"!
The Kino Gem and Mineral Show at Kino Sports Complex (formerly Tucson Electric Park which is something many folks still call it) is another show that is expanding. No too many years ago, this show seemed to be sinking into an "imported stuff" show with fewer and fewer rock and mineral offerings. But it has grown and many of the new dealers are selling rough rock and HUGE specimens for which this venue is well suited.
One of our friends and favorite dealers, Sally and Spike Andruss, (photo to be posted when I remember to take it!) sell at this show. Spike and Sally (Rimrock Gems) have a knack for coming up with wood from unique localities, and this year is no exception. Spike gets a fabulous polish on his material, so it is always a joy to see what they have "dug up" when we see them at the Madras, Oregon, show and at Kino here in Tucson.
We will never get accustomed to the sheer size and volume of the material that is brought to Tucson. Kino has some huge specimens on offer.
The Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show at the Hotel Tucson City Center ... this venerable show has been held at this hotel, once called the Inn Suites, for over 20 years, but that will change next year, as the promoter plans to move the show to a Hilton Resort in far north Tucson. The problem is that many of the dealers do not plan to follow the promoter 12 miles north. Some are planning to stay at the Hotel Tucson City Center near downtown, others are planning to (or already have) moved to other locations around town, and many, if not most, are in a quandary. The Hotel Tucson manager plans to try and keep this venue together as a separate show, but many vendors and buyers are skeptical. This show, one of the most popular in all of Tucson, is definitely breaking up and next year will be different because of it.
There is not even a balloon advertisement above Hotel Tucson this year -- and that has been a fixture, viewable from the freeway, for years and years.
But here we are in 2020, and many fine fossils and minerals can still be found here -- from expensive Turkish colla wood specimens to huge fossil palms and fish plates to petrified wood slabs and table tops to fabulous minerals in every price range.
Why, Jim even scoped out some plant fossils.