The 2021 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, hosted every year at the Tucson Convention Center, has been canceled due to the pandemic.
The wildly popular event is part of the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, which occupies more than 50 venues around town in January and February and brings in people from around the globe.
Hosted by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society since 1955, the main show at the TCC is often referred to as the largest, oldest and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.
In a news release Tuesday, the society announced its decision to cancel the main show, citing coronavirus concerns and wanting to protect volunteers, residents and visitors.
“We hoped and planned for the best during these difficult days of COVID-19 but find events have conspired to force us to the painful decision to take 2021 off and focus on bringing things back at a higher level in 2022,” the release said. “Most importantly, TGMS does not want to be responsible for a single COVID-19 fatality or serious illness. Our show is run by volunteers and many of us are in high-risk demographics, as are many of our participants and attendees.”
Event leaders said they consulted with public health officials on how they could modify the event in 2021, but that COVID-19 related risks “make it impossible for TGMS to put on anything more than a shadow of our accustomed vibrant event.” The public show includes a variety of exhibits, educational programs, networking events and is attended by thousands of people both locally and around the world.
Officials also said restrictive COVID-19 travel policies could cause problems for many of their domestic and international museum exhibitors and attendees.
The collective Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is the city’s largest tourism-related event, bringing in about $130 million annually. With the main show canceled, it’s unclear if other gem shows at venues throughout the city will follow suit.
Next year’s show was supposed to be highlighted by the grand opening of the University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, which is being constructed in the historic Pima County Courthouse in the heart of downtown.
“We promise to pull out all the stops to bring you an unparalleled group of eye-popping fluorescent mineral exhibits, colorful minerals and gems from around the world, and some special surprises to shake everyone out of their post-Covid lethargy. See you in 2022," the society's release said.