DEMING – The return of the Rockhound Roundup this past weekend was met with excitement and, by all appearances, a return to normalcy. Following a year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, 120 vendors – new and returning – shared their rock collecting work and handmade jewelry with collectors and the curious who attended the four-day event which began on Thursday and wrapped up Sunday afternoon. The event was held at the Southwestern New Mexico State Fairgrounds, 4100 Raymond Reed Blvd. in the Industrial Park.
John (only name given) was leaving through the Roundup gate clutching a huge slab he scored from an outside vendor at the fairgrounds.
The northern Nevada native said he has been coming to the Roundup since 1988. “I moved to Benson (Arizona) and it’s been easier for me to get here the past four years,” he said.
John considers his rock collecting a hobby and not a business. “I enjoy working with rock. I cut them and look for the brilliant colors inside the slabs. I will do one show a year in Arizona after I find the rocks I want to cut during the summer.”
Rumaldo Nuñez saw brisk business at his outdoor tables. He is the owner of Nuñez Minerals out of El Paso, and he works mostly with rock and product out of Mexico.
“I come from a family of miners,” Nuñez said. “My father was a miner who opened his rock business and I followed by opening my own rock collecting business.”
“I primarily buy geodes and crystals in Mexico and cut them, but I am incorporating more product from all areas into the business. It has been good,” he said.
Nuñez has been coming to the Roundup since his was a child when his father set up a vendor table. “I enjoy coming here now as an adult and businessman. It’s a great opportunity to sell my product but also to network with other collectors and meet new people,” he said.
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The show has grown in popularity ever since it began in 1966 with 10 tables at Rockhound State Park – a year after the park land was donated. “It’s a centrally located event for the big collectors from Arizona, California, Texas and Louisiana,” said Deming Gen & Mineral Society show coordinator Marilyn Page. “This show also invites children. We had students from Bell School come to the show and we had fun activities for them to enjoy. They learned about geology, how to dig for fossils and spin a wheel for prizes.”
Kyrita Shannon and Johnny Crawford of Silver City were taking in the outdoor vendors. Each of them tinker in rock collecting and were making their first trip to the Roundup.
“We heard about it on Facebook,” Kyrita said. “I have seen a wide variety of pieces from the vendors and all at good prices,” Crawford said. “…Excellent work.”
Crawford likes fire agates and Kyrita enjoys rockhounding trips.
Claudia Umpleby of Blue Water Acres, NM set up her handmade jewelry under a canopy outdoors. Claudia is another vendor who grew into the business and attended the show with her father. “He came for at least 25 years and I have been here the last 20,” she said.
Claudia did good business during the height of the pandemic. She did notice that people were anxious to get back to visiting the shows and getting back into a normal life.
“The pandemic took a lot of that away from us, but we found ways to make it work. It’s good to come to this show and get outdoors and be normal to a degree,” she said. Claudia placed Blue Water Acres about 150 miles north of Deming.
Indoor vendors saw plenty of business and the DG&MS entertained and made money by hosting is member’s display exhibits, the member’s silent auction and Saturday’s live auction that was sponsored by vendor donations.
It was estimated that more than 5,000 people attended the 57th annual Rockhound Roundup hosted by the Deming Gem & Mineral Society.
Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-546-2611 (leave a message) or firstname.lastname@example.org.