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The QIA PowWow: Day One, Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
Perfect weather greeted everyone in Quartzsite, Arizona for the first day of the QIA PowWow. Not quite shirt sleeve weather but a light jacket or a long sleeved shirt served well. No wind, a blessing for all of the vendors with shade canopies that normally take sail in a strong breeze.
High clouds, bright sun. Sunscreen, big cap, and lip balm time. If you lack a cap, the Quartzsite Roadrunners Gem and Mineral Club will sell you one. Or a nice Polo. As everyone knows, all Roadrunner based apparel enhances life.
I got to talk to only a few vendors but I will be back tomorrow. Jeffrey Anderson of Dwarves Earth Treasures eagerly looked at my first self-collected thunderegg. Although he has cut thousands of geodes and thundereggs, his expression was that of someone truly in love with his trade, who couldn’t wait to cut my rock open and to polish it. He’s not cutting on site this year, but will get it done at his shop before his next show and mail it back to me. Jeffrey is deaf and communicates with a signboard and, as he once wrote me, with some acting. He was selling a great selection of polished and unpolished material. This evening I got an e-mail from him, putting in exact writing what he tried to communicate to me over his show table. He is at Booth 159.
Jason Fabbi of Las Vegas was at Quartzsite for his seventh year. He is at Booth 330 and his business is called JHF Stones. Jason is a Graduate Gemologist (GIA). He does custom jewelry, often working with a stone a customer found themselves. He is also a lifetime member of the Southern Nevada Gem & Mineral Society which is quite an honor. (external link) Full disclosure, he made a wonderful bolo tie for me last year and this year he fashioned a ring for me that Ringo Starr would be proud of.
Geologist Wayne Holland was back again with his amazing collection of gold specimens, many he mined himself. His booth is right next to the main QIA building. He is a Total Gold Authority with an expertise that ranges far into a mix of other minerals, some local to the Southwest and exotic. He’ll appraise your gold for a reasonable fee, any money completely worth it to hear him hold forth on his specialty. When an expert like this starts talking, it is best just to listen, take notes, and try to keep up. You’re not getting this experience on eBay!
I don’t want to stress the vendors too much in this recap. They are great souls but all the visitors seemed interesting as well and all in a happy mood. Striking up a conversation with a random stranger turns that stranger into a friend. For some reason, on Wednesday I ran into a variety of experienced world travelers. They could recount their adventures from China to Mexico to Switzerland. I met a charming lapidarist named Nina and I wish I was still talking to her. You’ll meet rockhounds and jewelry people and other folk who journeyed a long way to get this place. Everybody wanted to be there and it was clear they had been looking forward to the PowWow for some time.
David Walblom once again presented terrific dinosaur sculptures, both here and at Tyson Wells across I-10. David is a treat to talk to and if you are looking for an unusual lapidary tool, well, you came to the right place.
The volunteers must not be overlooked, the hundreds of them the only way this event can happen. Particularly striking was a young man who was tasked with cleaning the men’s restroom, an awful job that he took on with a smiling face. I thanked him for his work because I have had to clean bathrooms in some of my jobs. He seemed surprised with my compliment as he appeared content to be doing what he could to help. Hours later he was still there, still cleaning with a an uplifted expression. That’s dedication and a testimony to a fine work ethic and character. Other volunteers were equally busy and yet never too busy to explain events, give directions, or hand you a freshly made hamburger. Food prices are very reasonable and there is even a buggy that drives the aisles, like a vendor working a ball park, bringing food and drink to you.
People with wheel chairs and walkers managed the gravel surface of the PowWow, with people helping whenever they needed to get their gear on board the shuttle service that takes people from the parking lot to the show. This is a passenger trailer towed by a tractor. I’ve operated a Kubota before but never towed people behind me. The trailer has stairs to mount but everyone pitches in to help people on board.
Admission free, parking free, experience free. What are you waiting for? See you tomorrow.
Pow Wow Show Promoters
Mike & Carolyn Zinno
Quartzsite Improvement Association
235 E. Ironwood Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346
You can read more about Quartzsite at Rock&Gem’s website and Facebook page. I was covering the day to day at the PowWow for them this year and I have written extensively on all things Quartzsite in the past.