The Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is among the largest rock, gem and mineral shows. It makes its way annually into Tucson beginning in the end of January.
The showcase first made its debut in 1955 and started off as a very small show organized by the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society at a local elementary school, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Now there’s over 35 different shows all around Tucson to explore! Find some more information about this year’s event, including details on the many shows, through Visit Tucson.
There’s still time to attend this year’s gem showcase, which continues through mid-February. If you’ve never been, are you looking for some tips for attending the first time? Look no further! Here’s some advice from some of the vendors and attendees.
1. Bring cash
Each gem show is different! Some parking is free, like at the show at Kino Sports Complex, while others only accept cash, like the 22nd Street Show. The majority of the booths inside accept credit cards, but some only accept cash.
There are also some nonprofit organizations set up at certain shows, accepting cash donations. For instance, the Kino gem show has baby goats and a huge amethyst piece to take pictures in, all for a $5 donation to Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids.
Don’t forget about everyone’s favorite part: food trucks! There may not be any ATMs around to withdraw cash so it’s best to bring some with you.
2. Wear comfortable attire
There are many gem shows around town with lots of different booths to explore. You’ll want to be comfortable to really enjoy your experience. Be prepared to get those steps in!
Wear comfy shoes and clothing that isn’t too tight. The sun is starting to come back out so consider wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen! Bring water to stay hydrated.
3. Bring a tote bag
Many booths will give you a plastic bag for your purchases, but condensing all of your amazing gem show finds into one bag is easier and better for our environment.
Tote bags, backpacks and even rolling carts and suitcases are seen by attendees.
4. Take your time
Plan out which shows you’d like to attend as there are many different ones. There’s so much to see at each — don’t rush through it!
And it’s not just rocks, there are many unique pieces of art. Bringing a small notebook or using your phone to keep track of the items you’re interested in — and their prices — at different booths may be helpful. Many vendors are selling the same items at different prices, so you may want to explore before buying something right at the jump. Take pictures as well!
5. Arrive early for the best parking
The gem show brings in people from allover and can get pretty packed, especially later in the day. If you want to secure the closest parking spots, it’s best to arrive early!
6. Don’t get overwhelmed — have fun!
Your first time attending the gem show may feel a little overwhelming with how much the vendors have to offer. However, people are there to help you! Vendors are often more than happy to help and answer any questions you may have, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Madi Kingsbury is a senior at the University of Arizona, studying journalism. She's an apprentice with #ThisIsTucson for the spring semester.