Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Gem and mineral show tents going up

The white tents started going up all over Tucson in recent days, in preparation for the Tucson Gem & Mineral Showcase, a loose confederation of 49 independent shows leading up to the classic Tucson Gem and Mineral Show on Feb. 14-17.

At least 50,000 buyers and sellers are expected this year, although some estimates are dramatically higher. The TGMS is probably the biggest such event in the world. If you haven't experienced it, it's hard to visualize. Shows are set up in hotels and motels, in tents, and in parking lots. Some are open only to retailers, most are open to everyone. The gems, minerals, fossils and [above: Tumamoc Hill behind tent across from the Tucson Convention Center] other sale items on display make it a street fair version of the Smithsonian and every other natural history museum you've been to, but everything here is for sale.

It's Tucson's equivalent to Mardi Gras. Streets are crowded, traffic is intense (especially with all the I-10 construction), restaurants are jammed, and good luck getting a hotel room close to the action. Some motels look like they scrape by all year just to cater to the TGMS crowd.

Stay tuned for reports and pictures.

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