Rockhounds to Converge at Tule Gem and Mineral Club Gemboree

Visitors view the various gem showcases at a former Tule Gem and Mineral Show. Courtesy/Tule Gem and Mineral Society
Visitors view the various gem showcases at a former Tule Gem and Mineral Show. Courtesy/Tule Gem and Mineral Society

For 60 years, those with an interest in the hobby and artistry of rocks have come together to put on the Tule Gem and Mineral Show which will be held this year on Saturday and Sunday, January 16 and 17, at the Exeter Memorial Building.

The club was founded in 1952, and four years later the first show was held.

“There are members still today who were involved in the formation of the club and that first show,” said Don Vieira, a longtime member of the club and show organizer.

The show is a chance for club members and others who are a part of California Federation of Mineralogical Society clubs up and down the state to organize and show their collections and work. There will be 40 showcases this year, Vieira said, mostly from local participants.

Vieira himself will have two cases, one he calls Flora & Fauna, which displays geodes cut into slices that reflect different aspects of nature including a gull in flight, a fish, and an owl apparently wearing glasses. The other represents some of the cabochons he has cut. A cabochon is a stone or rock that has been polished and perhaps shaped, but not cut or faceted.

Other showcases may display spheres, rock collections from a particular geographic location, faceted gems and more.

The showcases are judged during the show in two capacities. Once by the Tule Gem and Mineral Club president. The other is by visitors, who pick and vote for their favorite case, throughout the length of the show. Each win is coveted, Vieira said.

During the show demonstrations will take place in faceting, cabochon shaping, wire wrapping and, new this year, fossil painting and sand mining.

A treasure hunt takes place for children 12 and under, although their parents often like to participate as well, Vieira said. Hunters pick up a check list and seek out in which showcase an item may appear, write it down and take the completed hunt list to win a polished rock. Some 20-25 items are on the treasure hunt list.

Twelve commercial dealers will offer everything from rock tumblers and other lapidary art equipment to jewelry mounts and settings, books and, well, rocks.

A silent auction will also take place for coarse rocks that can be polished and cut into beautiful works of art, Vieira said. And, every 30 minutes, a raffle item is given away; winners must be present.

The Tule Gem and Mineral Society has approximately 85 members and meets monthly at the Farmersville Senior Center. Members’ ages vary from young children, whose parents have joined the society to a 95-year-old founding member. Meetings generally include a guest or club member speaker on minerals, jewelry or related subject matter. The club takes three to four field trips per year, including one-day local trips and weekend trips a bit further away.

Club members also participate in educational rock talks for Tulare County elementary grade classrooms, on the three different types of rocks and geological formations and earth sciences.

Show hours are from 10am-5pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. The show is free and so is parking.

For more information on the show, or the club, visit the Tule Gem and Mineral Society website at www.tulegem.com or call, Gayle Bingaman, (559) 802-6029.

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