The 21st Annual Missouri Mines Rock Swap was held over the weekend and despite rain on Saturday it still drew a crowd. People could be seen walking around with umbrellas and wearing ponchos while enjoying the various rocks and crafts.
Charles Austin, of Arkansas, was visiting the rock swap with his daughter, Aubrey Austin, 8, of Farmington, while he was in town visiting.
“This is my first time out here and it is amazing,” said Charles. “I was looking at some crystals that were mined in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which is close to where I grew up. It is a big mining industry out there. It is really neat to see all these minerals from all over the world.”
Aubrey said she really likes that they have all the different types of rocks and minerals on display in the museum.
“The fluorescent ones are really cool how they light up in the black light,” said Aubrey.
Charles said they heard from a friend about the rock swap and weren’t sure what it was all about. He said it was more amazing than he thought it would be.
Sherry Brakefield, of Potosi, was at the rock swap with her daughter Amanda and son Andrew.
“My 17 year old is the reason we are here,” Sherry said. “He is the rock enthusiast and he is looking for things to add to his collection. The rain didn’t stop us from coming out today and this is our first year coming out. I didn’t know it was this nice. iIt is really great.”
Brakefield said she met people from all over and she said one guy they met buys from all over the United States.
“My son is having a good time and has a handful of rocks already he is wanting to buy,” Brakefield said. “He has been collecting rocks for three years now and I think he is heading in the direction of geology.”
Arkansas Quartz Crystals, Minerals and Gifts Owner JohnBe Beerhalter said many were hiding because of the rain. He said Friday was really sparse because it was so hot and humid. After 3:30 p.m. when the temperature dropped and it was nicer, more people came out.
Vendor John Dolde, of Festus, said his sales were doing very well Saturday, even with the rain. He added it was slow on Friday, but since a lot of the vendors closed he had been seeing a good crowd buying from him.
“I have been doing this for 18 years and it has rained every year,” said Dolde. “I have tons of stuff from all over the world.”
Missouri Mines State Historic Site Administrator Art Hebrank said the swap went pretty well considering the rain. He added it was a little bit more than they expected, but it still went pretty well.
“We have a few more vendors this year and had every space filled Friday morning,” said Hebrank. “It’s a rock swap where you buy, sell and trade rock and mineral specimens. The vendors are from a pretty wide range of area. The greatest number are from Missouri and Illinois and surrounding areas, but there are some from as far away from New Mexico, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”
Hebrank said there is always a large variety of specimens each year. Anything that has to do with rocks, mineral, fossils, lapidary, rock jewelry, and craft items made out of rocks can be found at the swap.
“You are going to find it here. Each vendor is a little different,” said Hebrank. “The prices range from very inexpensive up to some museum quality things that are pretty pricey, but pretty much a whole range. There is something for everybody.”
Hebrank wanted to thank everyone for coming out. He said they really appreciate the vendors and the public who make the event possible.
“Another thing is we have the museum open for free (during the rock swap) and we are getting quite a bit of visitation in there,” Hebrank said. “It’s a good opportunity for people in the area who haven’t seen the museum yet to get out here for free during the three-day event.”
Hebrank said they have early mining to more modern mining equipment on display in one side of the museum and on the other side is the mineral room, which is of more interest. There are specimens from all over the world.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org