On this page:
Info on the 2019 KGMS Show.
History of KGMS and The Kalamazoo Show
Getting the most out of your visit to the Show
The 2019 Kalamazoo & Mineral Show
The 2019 Show celebrated the 60th Rock and Mineral Show presented by the Kalamazoo Geological and Mineral Society.
KGMS secured 44,000 square feet of show space for the 2019 KGMS Show. A bigger show than in 2018 with more vendors and activates, plus, some extra special attractions.
Steve Arnold, seen on the Meteorite Men TV Show, present at the 2019 KGMS Show. Additionally, Krystel (Dorris) Dinkel who's family was often seen on the Prospectors TV Show; had some of her families amazonite discoveries for sale. Krystel also did a presentation. Both Erik Rintamaki of Yooperlite fame and Paleo Joe filled out the strong speakers roster. From what I hear almost every presentation was packed!
A Little History:
KGMS started back in 1957, with their first Rock & Mineral Show held in 1958. With the exception of one year, KGMS has had a Rock and Mineral show every year since 1958.
Early shows were billed as carnival like, booths were each decorated to the show theme; there was a show queen, games (just like today), members wore costumes matching the theme; and there was a picnic after the event. The PowWow show had a wigwam - billed as a salute to American Indian art and culture. The Rock Fiesta was Mexican themed. Outside rock swaps were include in some of these shows. Decorating of vendor booths ended around 1977.
When established the focus of KGMS was on members having fun. By 1969 the Society had taken up community service activities, supporting geology in schools and started the WMU earth science student grants - the Society became "fun with a purpose".
In the 50 -70's Rock and Mineral Clubs flourished, as did the Rock and Mineral Shows. In the 70's Rock shops doted the USA lanscape. Before it closed (in the 80's?) Peck's Rock Shop in Battle Creek billed itself as the largest rock shop in the USA.
In the 80's rock shops were disappearing and rock & mineral clubs started losing members. KGMS was not immune to the process, dropping from a couple hundred members at their peak, to 31 members in 2006.
When I joined KGMS in 2010 membership had increased to 80 but concerns about rock and mineral clubs disappearing was evident. Several Michigan clubs had disbanded and one more MI club was expected to close that year.
Today, KGMS is by all outward appearances a thriving gem and mineral society. The club's membership, and the club's rock and mineral show, has grown steadily since 2013.
While many have speculated on the cause for the decline of the Rock & Mineral Societies, I believe a decent share of the decline was due to Rock Society members' failing to revisit their share vision for the society and embrace new ideas, particularly from younger people. Working towards something is much more exciting than maintaining something.
If you want to continue to see a vibrant Rock and Mineral Show (and Society) in Kalamazoo, join KGMS, go to a committee meeting, set in on the board meeting, ask about starting your own (bead, silversmithing, beach picking, etc) study group, plan a field trip, get envolved. At the least, volunteer to work the show; it is fun! By a constant stream of new blood in the Society, KGMS can avoid stagnation, are community (covering 5 counties) will retain an excellent asset and we get to keep a top notch Rock & Mineral Show.
How to plan your visit to the KGMS Show:
Here are a few thoughts. I am certain I will be rewriting this page more than a few times.
Rock and mineral shows are not just about acquaring minerals. They are opportunities for people to educate themselves in the hobby and spend a little time with people that enjoy the same things they do. With various levels of expertise, venders, society members, lectures and even other visitors can be excellent sources for learning.
The KGMS Show has had exceptional attendance in the past few years. Which makes it harder for a visitor to spend time just talking with a dealer. But, show crowds are lighter on Sunday, particularly in the morning, that is usually when I have a few minutes to take photos. It is also the best time to talk to the dealers and get some additional mineral education.
Engage with the demonstrators, educational exhibitors and KGMS members around the show. We love to share our hobby with others.
For specimen identification try the volunteers at the specimen table. The specimen table booth often has WMU geology student helping and this is where you can often find the society's geologist hanging out. Starting in 2019 the KVCC booth also offers rock and mineral identification.
Take in at least one of the educational presentations. For the past few years KGMS has sought to bring you some exceptional knowledgable presenters that you will see only at the bigger shows.
If everything goes well, the 2020 show will have some exceptional attractions. You should plan on spending a little more time than normal at the Kalamazoo Show than for most area rock & mineral shows. Minimally, plan to spend two hours at the show but you will likely need 3 or 4. Some people love the show so much they will spend several hours and come back daily to engage in the show's activities. We had a number of people do a couple of days at the show just so they could take in several lectures. Make certain you check out both rooms, there are exceptional vendors in each one.
The Society gives a free Petoskey stone (unless they run out) to anyone that wants to polish it during the show. Members will guide you in the polishing process but it will take time to make it a completely polished stone. It is a fun activity to do as you wait for others in your party to finish elsewhere. You can also bring in your own Petoskey stone finds to polish during the show. These are also the poeple to ask about polishing septarian nodules.
The geode cracking areas is another popular area operated as a fundraiser for the society. Select a geode from the pile and see it cracked open at the show, it is always a thrill discovering what is inside.
If you are coming to Kalamazoo to see the KGMS Rock and Mineral Show why not make it a multiday getaway?
Calendar of Southern Michigan Rock and Mineral Shows