NORTH ADAMS -- Crocoite from Tasmania, with its bright orange spikes growing in every direction, Mexican chalcopyrite's fluorescent pinks and golds, and the glowing, kryptonite green of malachite from Africa.
These were just some of the exotic minerals that were on display at the Northern Berkshire Mineral Club's 49th annual Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show, which took place Saturday and Sunday at the Eagles Hall on Curran Highway.
Having moved locations several times in the past, the show, which took place in Pownal, Vt., last year, was attracting an entirely new and much larger crowd compared to previous years. By noon Saturday, attendance had already surpassed that of the entire day last year, said club president Larry Michon.
"Mostly what we are about is giving the people of the community the opportunity to not only look at neat stuff but also to buy it," said Michon, " ... once a year at least, we want [them] to have a nice selection of things from all over the world."
The show serves as the club's main fundraiser for the year, with proceeds going toward educational field trips, transportation and guest speakers. Michon also hopes to be able to build and grow a fund so that the club may be able to donate a stone bench or memorial to the community in the future.
The main purpose of the Mineral Club, which was founded in 1959, is to serve as an educational outlet for those interested in minerals, but, as Michon points
In one corner of the show, kids found educational activities like sifting through sand for fossils and cracking rocks in hopes of finding a sparkly surprise inside. Meanwhile, for the adults, a plethora of beautiful and fascinating minerals and gems were laid out for perusal and purchase. And there was much more than just nice additions to a rock collection -- rows of jewelry and decorative items such as candle holders and boxes and bowls also caught the eye of shoppers.
Mark Kilmer, a vendor from the Albany area who has been selling at the club's show for three years, shared what he thought to be his most popular item: fossils.
"It's funny, a lot of the time women will come and have to drag the men along [to the show], but then it's the men that get really interested and become collectors," Kilmer added.
While the gem, mineral, and fossil show certainly attracted very serious collectors, it also brought in spectators of all types, explained Michon, from the very young to the very old.
"You'll have a lot of people that are just interested just because it's cool -- fossils are cool," Michon said.
For more information about the Northern Berkshire Mineral Club, visit www.nbm