In our newsletter we mentioned attending the Valley Springs Pow Wow at Snyder’s Ranch and saying that this was the final year. It turns out that they will hold their 40th, and final, annual show in 2014.
Over the last 40 years this show has been the biggest of its type in Northern California. Set in the fields of the Snyder Ranch, the spaces were painted on the grass, dealers would set up their tents, cars, vans, trailers and trucks, put out their tables and they were ready for business. It was a true rock show in that you could find mineral specimens, stone slabs, crystals and jewelry from all over the world, varying in size from huge pieces of petrified wood down to mineral micro specimens.
At its peak the show had over 200 dealers ranging from tough old miners through to importers with huge inventories. Thursday was always Dealers Day and the wheeling and dealing, mainly between vendors, was pretty intense. This was a time to see haggling over rocks at its very best. Watching some of the “old guys” going at each other looked like a war zone but at the end of the day everyone was happy with their own particular “win”.
Friday was always kid’s day. Some of the old school dealers weren’t too happy seeing buses loaded with kids arriving. Fortunately the majority could see that the kids were the future and many dealers had inexpensive pieces and surprise packages for the kids that they could take home and share with their parents and friends. I’m sure many rock and gem enthusiasts today are graduates of the Snyder Pow Wow.
Saturday and Sunday were open to the public and huge crowds turned out. It might have been in 100 degree heat or slogging through mud but they turned up. Vehicles would get bogged in the mug but the trusty farm tractor was nearby so no one was left abandoned in the fields. Scouts provided food and displays of old engines and old farm equipment were always popular. In later years performances by Native Americans and cultural displays also provided a big draw card. The chili cook was the event that most dealers looked forward to. This was not a competition to take lightly. Chili rivalries built up over many years meant that competition was intense and bragging rights were at stake. After the judging the camaraderie returned and everyone set about demolishing all the various types of chili dishes. A good night had by all!
For this years show we were only able to attend for one day and that was the Dealers Day. After a 3 hour drive we were disappointed to see that only about 10 dealers were set up, but making the best of the situation we launched into our rock search. Looking through boxes from a 50 year old collection we did find some hidden treasures, including some fantastic Mariposa Butterfly Dog’s Tooth Phantom Calcites (Mexico), Hematite covered Dog’s Tooth Calcite (Mexico), an unusual Chalcotrichite specimen (Czar mine, Cochise County, Arizona) superb Wulfenite specimens (Arizona), a beautiful Sphalerite piece with Marcasite mined many years ago from the Ballard Mine in Baxter Kansas and a delightful Rhodochrosite specimen mined in Colorado. Let’s not forget the Quartz plate with Fluorite crystals and small Rhodochrosites from San Juan County, Colorado.
Finally comes our most spectacular find. It is a polished petrified burl from a black oak. It was found 5 feet below ground in Hood River, Oregon. It has wonderful wood patterns mixed with agate veins.
All of the above specimens can be found in our NEW ITEMS section on our website.
As we were leaving more dealers were beginning to set up and we were told that about 45 dealers were there for the weekend. All reports say that the show was a success.
We will be there next year but it will be a sad occasion. California needs more of these types of shows, not less.
Next year will be the end of an era.