MASON, Mich.—The Central Michigan Gem, Mineral, Fossil, Lapidary and Jewelry Show event is in its third year at the Ingham County Fairgrounds. The event is a place where rock lovers of all ages can come and buy anything from fossils to agates of all origins from vendors.
Robin Smith, event coordinator for the Gem Show, said that the weekend-long event, which ran from Oct. 20–22, has a history of being very successful with the local Mason area community.
“We had a great crowd ready to come in in the pouring rain,” Smith said. “Rock people are hardy people. Not a lot deters them. So I would say for our community, for our Mason area, we’re very successful. We will get about 2,500 people through the three days.”
Although the event has moved between many different locations in recent years, from the Martial Street Armory to Demonstration Hall at Michigan State to the Guard Armory, the stability of the Ingham County Fairgrounds has provided a steady home for the show and its many visitors ever since it came to the fairgrounds in 2020.
The event also has a strong connection with college students across Michigan. Students from Michigan Technological University created an agate display for the event, and the Michigan State University Geology Club had several student representatives in attendance, including Environmental Geosciences student Gabriella Ott.
This was Ott’s first year attending the show, and in addition to having fun by giving prizes to the kids in attendance, she found the event to be a great opportunity for networking.
“Besides being here for the Geology Club, I’m here because I really want to talk to some people at the Central Michigan Lapidary Mineral Society,” Ott said. “I think they offer a scholarship for geology and geoscience students. I’m here to network a little bit and talk to people about rocks.”
The Central Michigan Lapidary and Mineral Society (CMLMS), which hosts the event, is working to incorporate more student resources into future events.
“We’re in the process of this but, over the years, we do this show to generate funds for scholarships for MSU, as well as a few other things,” said Lyle Leland, webmaster for CMLMS. “And we’ve given out a yearly scholarship for a long time. We’ve now developed enough funding that we’re going to be funding an endowed scholarship, so it will be a permanent scholarship for our geology students.”
While turnout is always top of mind for the event, Smith knows that parents will continue to bring their children to shows to keep these types of events from dying off.
“You will be surprised by the volume of children that come to the show,” Smith said. “When my kids were younger the cheapest souvenirs we could get were wet stones off the shore and so that’s what it starts and then you just start collecting. Maybe your talent is in faceting, maybe your talent is in silversmithing, maybe it’s wire wrapping, or maybe you just like specimen pieces. It’s so large.”