Everyone remembers collecting stones as a child. We selected them for shape or color or just because they were different, although we did not know why.

Driving in the morning we would see a hillside shimmering in the sun, and wonder why it did that. We saw the red rocks, marveled at them and wondered why they were so red. We bought jewelry, a diamond for a loved one, precious stones, costume jewelry, and we knew they all came from the earth, but our knowledge was limited. As our children went through the same collecting phase we struggled to answer their questions about why this rock was blue or that one sparkled. Through it all we knew that the rocks beneath our feet were a fascinating puzzle, if only we had the key.

For some people the interest in rocks, mineral and gems continued beyond childhood; others returned to the interest later in life. In the Verde Valley almost two hundred such enthusiasts are members of the Mingus Gem & Mineral Club and continue their love of collecting rocks and gems, and shaping, moulding and polishing them into beautiful pieces and into jewelry.

Part of country life for many years have been Gem and Mineral Shows. At such events those same enthusiasts exhibit their hobby to their friends and their community annually. The Gem and Mineral Show has become part of the American tradition with several thousand shows in the US every year. The club members put their hobby on display: what they collect, what they have acquired and what they have made with their craftsmanship.

There are over 20 such shows in Arizona every year, and the biggest and the best in Northern Arizona is run by the Mingus Club, according to a press release. Not only are club members’ prize pieces to be seen, but there are collections of rocks, minerals, gems and jewelry from all over the world, brought to Cottonwood by dealers. Much of it is for sale, often at bargain prices. Many people come to the show for the pleasure of seeing the really amazing pieces on display and to admire the fantastic range of materials. There is no need to buy at such shows; many come only for the enjoyment of seeing the earth’s amazing rocks. If you do open your purse and take home a souvenir or a present for a loved one, the club members will be delighted.

The 33rd annual Verde Valley Show at the Cottonwood Fairgrounds from Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15. Come with a friend and be prepared to remember those innocent days when the rock you had just found was the most beautiful thing in the world. Perhaps you will come across another most beautiful thing. Admission: Adults Friday $1, Saturday and Sunday $3; children with adults, free. Hours: Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



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