Gem and mineral club welcomes families to its annual show

By Rebecca Long Pyper

Rock collections are a staple of childhood, and if your kids have a pile of pretty ones in their bedrooms, put a smile on their faces by attending this year’s South East Idaho Gem and Mineral Show at the North Bannock County Fairgrounds, 10588 Ifft Road in Pocatello. The show runs April 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and April 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults, and kids under 12 are free with an adult.

Sponsored by the 65-member-strong South East Idaho Gem and Mineral Club, the 59th annual event is family friendly; mature rock enthusiasts will find unique gems and crystals from all over the world, and kids will have plenty to stimulate their senses too. Each child will receive a free polished rock, plus a 50-cent spin-a-wheel game and inexpensive grab bags will make for lots of fun that doesn’t cost much, said club secretary Tamela Manhart.

A hands-on table will encourage kids to examine a variety of rocks with an expert on hand to answer questions. And 10 dealers selling “pretty rocks” like crystals can answer questions too.

Fostering a child’s interest in rocks can enhance their lives for the long term, Manhart said. There’s the history component and the physical benefits since hunting for rocks gets people up and moving. Then there’s the geology piece and the fact that “you see so many other things when you’re out looking for rocks — like interesting spiders or lizards or snakes,” she said. “So it’s kind of like a door that opens to so many other things.”

The club is comprised of members of all ages — some who are children and others in their 90s.

“We like to get together, (and) we do field trips — some are overnight, some are day trips. We just kind of go out and explore,” Manhart said. The group meets the second Thursday of each month at the Quail Ridge Retirement activity room, where the program often features a guest speaker or film and a silent rock auction. Interested in joining the club? Call 406-3990.

Rock hunting can be a fun family activity, and South East Idaho Gem and Mineral Club secretary Tamela Manhart recommends stopping by the American Falls Dam. If you walk the shoreline just below the dam when the water is low, there’s an excellent chance you’ll find pieces of obsidian, which Native Americans used for things like arrowheads. “That’s a really big area for obsidian, and that’s something that’s really noticeable because it’s black and shiny,” Manhart said.

Kids are welcome at the event, and experts will be on hand to answer questions about various types of gems and minerals. Photo by Jenny Losee

Kids are welcome at the event, and experts will be on hand to answer questions about various types of gems and minerals.
Photo by Jenny Losee

Tamela Manhart of the South East Idaho Gem and Mineral Club shows off one of the kinds of rocks visitors will see at this weekend's rock show.  Photo by Jenny Losee

Tamela Manhart of the South East Idaho Gem and Mineral Club shows off one of the kinds of rocks visitors will see at this weekend’s rock show. Photo by Jenny Losee

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