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Folks from all over the region interested in geology, mineralogy, fossils or rock hunting, along with a number of enthusiastic school kids, found something to spark their interest at the 2013 Tahlequah Rock and Mineral Show.
The show, held Friday and Saturday at the Cherokee County Community Building, featured exhibits and vendors of jewelry, crafts, rocks and fossils, and demonstrations of flint-knapping and gem-cutting.
“I believe this is our biggest show yet,” said Sara Brasel, treasurer of the Tahlequah Rock and Mineral Society, which organizes the annual event. “We have at least 26 different vendors and displays.”
Dr. Roger West, a retired professor at Northeastern State University’s Oklahoma College of Optometry, demonstrated how his collection of minerals glowed in luminous colors under black light, and many continued to glow after he turned off the light.
West explained some minerals absorb ultraviolet light at the atomic level and fluoresce a longer wavelength of visible light.
“They aren’t the kind of rocks that stand out,” he said. “They look pretty drab. You might just walk right over them.”
But West has enough experience hunting minerals to spot any that will glow.
“I’ve been interested in this since I was about 10 years old,” he said. “I believe my fascination started in a show much like this one.”
Many rock-hounds came from other states
Valerie Quinn of Yukon and her brother Dallas Seabolt of Ottumwa, Iowa, were offering pieces for sale. Items included in their display included crystals from Arkansas and Missouri, copralites - or fossilized feces - collected near Lawton, desert roses from New Mexico and petrified coral from Iowa.
“We gather all of these different items ourselves,” Quinn said. “My aunt got me into this. She asked if we wanted to go a geode festival in Illinois. It was wonderful. It is held twice a year, and we try to make it at least once a year. They take us out on different field trips to gather geodes.”
Brasel said the growth of the Tahlequah Rock and Mineral Show means the array of items for perusal or purchase continues to expand.
“Many of the vendors have collections that have been acquired over decades,” she said.
“This year, we have a lady who is displaying a 40-year collection of Tampa Bay Coral, which is rare and now illegal to gather.”
Tampa Bay – or Florida Agatized – Coral is actually fossilized coral, or fossil coral pseudomorphs, found in Florida near Tampa Bay’s Ballast Point, the Suwanee-Withlacoochee river beds and the Ecofina River.
Like several attending the show, Brasel said her interest in rocks began as a child.
“I’d always liked rocks when I was young,” she said. “Though then it had a lot more to do with being a kid. I would dig them up and set them around. When I got older and met some other people who were really into rocks, I then got very serious about it.”
Proceeds from the show and other fundraisers of the Tahlequah Rock and Mineral Society go toward scholarship funds.
“We also give several science kits to local school in the area,” she said. “We want to do a lot more of that in the future. We also try to go on a field trip every month.”
Brasel added that she was excited to see the show continue to add vendors, even if it means a little more work for herself and the society.
“Every year, it’s nice to see everything kind of fall into place,” she said. “It gets a little wild at time, but we really enjoy it. The goal of our club is to get people interested in the earth sciences.”
The Tahlequah Rock and Mineral Society meets at the Tahlequah Public Library at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month.