A few days ago Greg Warchol posted a comment that led me to believe that he might be a rockhound in the rough. His comments about visiting Bancroft and previous questions about the gemboree and where to find interesting rocks have prompted me to say something about Bancroft’s annual rockhound Gemboree.
A crowd sidles into the auditorium through a rather inconspicuous door at the end of the building. $12 gets you an adult pass that will last the event, four days of gem-encrusted heaven. I am soon convinced that the success of the show is not linked to its magnitude. The show at Tucson is far larger. It is the spirit and energy of this place. Its long-standing reputation as the largest and most important gem and mineral event in Canada draws rock hounds and dealers from everywhere. In a sense it is a right of passage, a pilgrimage that every rockhound worthy of the name needs to make. A strange conglomeration of people and products in a buggy forested wilderness of rock. A good many of those glittering jewels in museums and high-class jewellery emporiums had come from somewhere near here. Bancroft’s landscape encompasses some of the most diverse concentrations of minerals in the world. At a conservative estimate over 1600 species are found in the region.
Some might argue that it is the people that make the gemboree, not its location. It has become a cultural event, a Woodstock of sorts for mineral collectors. The crowd here is an unusual one: university professors, millionaires, kids, fashion models and eccentrics; a varied assemblage of humanity.
In the accompanying photo, gem and mineral enthusiasts pour over a table of semi precious beads. It is an opulent display of colour that is mirrored in any one of a great multitude of booths.