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Agate and Mineral Show comes to Brainerd

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Rock hounds from the Brainerd area used to have to put on 30 miles before they could browse great collections of agates, strange looking mineral specimens, fossils and gemstones.

Not so this year.

The annual Cuyuna Rock, Gem and Mineral Society’s 11th annual Agate and Mineral Show moved from Aitkin to Brainerd.

The free show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and will be in the curling center at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds.

There are a number of free activities for children, who can dig for agates, fossils and sharks’ teeth. Children may also excavate an archeology ball to discover what’s inside for free. A “Wheel of Rock Fortune” lets children pay 25 cents per spin, with every spin a winner.

Sharon Smith, Cuyuna Agate and Mineral Show chairwoman, said it’s exciting to be in a new venue.

“I can’t say enough about the support we received in Brainerd,” Smith said, adding the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds crew have worked with them to make the show possible here. “I think we found our home.”

Smith said this year the show will have several exhibit cases with agate marbles, binghamite and silkstone from the Cuyuna mines; Brazillian agates, minerals and agate art.

“We’ll also have a fluorescent mineral booth where attendees step inside to see ordinary looking rocks burst into psychedelic yellow, purple, green and orange under special black lights,” Smith said.

The display cases will also be able to showcase items miners collected but are now rare finds with the former Cuyuna Range mines now deep lakes.

“It’s kind of a museum quality experience,” Smith said of those displays.

The club will be operating a rock saw where folks can see how a stone is cut, or bring one to be cut for a small fee, Smith said. For adults there are door prizes and grand prize drawings. More than 50 vendors are expected for the show.

“Vendors are arriving from several states to participate,” Smith said. “New to the show this year we have a Russian mineral dealer who will be offering some unique stones set into beautiful jewelry. Another vendor is a master knapper who will be demonstrating his craft making arrowheads and stone knives all weekend.”

For those already well into rock collecting, the show also offers cutting and polishing equipment, supplies and books. For others who would are more interested in the colorful rocks for adornments or home displays, there are polished stones, petrified wood, belt buckles, spheres, book ends, stone carvings, crystals, native copper, artifacts and polished slabs.

Smith said it’s a great place to find a Mother’s Day gift.

A “tailgating section” outside in the parking lots will allow people to buy, sell and trade stones. While the forecast may not be ideal with a cool and potentially rainy weekend, Smith said she hopes the free show will entice people who are ready to get out of their houses but unable to tackle the yard just yet.

For novice rock hounds, Smith said the dealers are great sources of information and willing to point people in the right direction.

“I think Brainerd is in for a treat,” Smith said. “This year we have quite a few exhibit cases that will be filled with some very interesting and beautiful specimens that are not for sale, allowing some of the collectors to show off their best specimens.”

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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