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Rockhounds to gather for May show

Rockhounds and those who simply appreciate nature's beauty in agates will have a weekend to enjoy mineral majesty in the 15th annual Cuyuna Agate and Mineral Show May 6-7 at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds in Brainerd.

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Collections like this one of Lake Superior agates are one of the attractions at the Cuyuna Agate & Mineral Rock Show May 6-7 in Brainerd. Submitted photo

Rockhounds and those who simply appreciate nature's beauty in agates will have a weekend to enjoy mineral majesty in the 15th annual Cuyuna Agate and Mineral Show May 6-7 at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds in Brainerd.

"It's a big show this year-completely sold out inside by March and currently have 30 plus vendors in the outdoor tailgate section," said Sharon Smith, 2017 show chair.

The event includes exhibits, art, jewelry, demonstrations, displays, rock cutting, knappers who use special tools to produce sharp projectile points or tools. In addition, a Wizard of Rocks will be available to answer questions on all things rock related. There will be a "Kids' Korner," crystals, free prizes for children, door prizes and silent auctions and concessions.

The show is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 6 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 7. A free Lake Superior agate will be given to the first 1,000 attendees on May 7.

The event will go on rain or shine. Admission is $1. In addition to the annual show, this year the Cuyuna club will be hosting the 77th convention of the Midwest Federation of Mineralogical and Geological Societies. The MWF encompasses 11 states, about 120 different clubs.

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Smith said the Midwest Federation is a member of the parent organization; The American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.

"We expect approximately 75 delegates," she stated. "The president of the MWF and the president of the national AFMS will be in attendance. Delegates will participate in field trips on Friday May 5, convention sessions will be held all day Saturday followed by a banquet. The MWF will feature a silent auction at our show on Sunday. The meetings and banquet will take place at the new clubhouse location on the lowest level of the Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd."

The club lost its former meeting space in Crosby when the old Family Center was closed.

"We were lucky to be able to obtain a long-term lease of the former Franklin Junior High School cafeteria kitchen," Smith said.

She said the space was left as it was after cafeteria appliances were sold and removed years ago. In order to lease the space, the club was responsible for bringing the plumbing and electrical systems up to code and for any work to make it suitable for their use.

"Luckily, we have some very talented people in our club who donated time and skill to the reconstruction project," Smith said. "We have just installed our lapidary equipment for cutting and polishing stones. Members have access to the equipment after completing training on the methods of proper use and safety.

"The new location is wonderful! We use the cafeteria for our meeting space-the second Saturdays of each month at 2 p.m.-- and it has been great to have the extra space. Since we've been in Brainerd, we have more guests, and more members are joining. It's a vibrant club with a diverse membership. Aside from having members of all ages and backgrounds, interests differ from those who collect mineral specimens, agates, fossils and petrified wood and those who facet stones or create cabochons for jewelry, those who cut and face polish specimens and those who just like to get outside and enjoy nature while learning about the planet beneath our feet.

"Rock hounds are friendly folks who are happy to share their knowledge."

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Smith reported club field trips are planned during the year both near and far.

"Locally, we seek permission from landowners to access plowed farm fields or gravel pits, and we appreciate every opportunity. The club has held summer field trips to Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas and more. Last fall, 13 members used metal detectors to find copper in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Local guides brought us to collecting areas and taught us how to search."

This summer, one of the trips being planned is to Colorado where the group will have the opportunity to meet some of the miners featured on The Weather Channel's "Prospectors" series, and to dig for crystals.

The club recently hosted a speaker from the Science Museum of Minnesota who talked about a dinosaur fossil excavation underway in northern Minnesota.

For more information, email Smith at Sharon@agatesrock.com .

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