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Rock hobbyists from around the country will converge on the Missouri Mines State Historic Site this weekend for the 22nd annual Missouri Mines Rock Swap.

Beginning Friday morning, rock enthusiasts will set up booths and displays under large tents in the main parking lot.

For 22 years, rock swappers have gathered at the site to sell or swap rock and mineral specimens, fossils, rock jewelry, and other rock-related items.

“We have about 50-some swappers reserving about 70 spaces,” said Art Hebrank, site administrator. “So there’s a lot of people. Most of them come from Missouri, Illinois, and all the surrounding states."

He said they have some coming from greater distances.

“We have some registered from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Alabama, New Mexico …,” said Hebrank.

The event will take place from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

There’s no admission fee for the three-day event and the site’s Mining and Mineral Museum fee of $4 will also be waived on all three days of the event.

"If area people haven’t had a chance to get over here yet, this is a good opportunity to see the museum for free,” said Hebrank.

Throughout the three-day swap, silent auctions of donated rock-related items will be conducted every few hours to benefit the site's museum.

Hebrank explained that the rock swap is just like other outdoor merchant fair-type events.

“It’s like any craft show, antique show or swap meet,” said Hebrank. “It’s just a bunch of hobbyists with merchandise and things set up. People wander around and can look at [the displays] and can buy or trade if they want."

Hebrank went on to say that the previous 21 years of the event have been very consistent in terms of attendance.

“Usually, about 2,500 people [attend the event] over the three days,” Hebrank said. “And that’s a hard count because we count every person as they come in with hand counters.”    

The swap is co-sponsored by Missouri State Parks and the Mineral Area Gem and Mineral Society, which is a local group of mineral enthusiasts.

Tents were already set up as of Tuesday and spaces across the old miner’s lot were marked off and ready for the swappers to set up shop.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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