San Diego County Fair – "Mad About the Fair"

by Anne Schafer, Coordinator



Greg Anderson's collection of minerals that glow under shortwave ultraviolet fluorescent lamps.


An Alice in Wonderland themed diorama by SDMG's casting class.


SDMG volunteer docent Doug Peeler next to Angie Cannon's display on Mica.


Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (?) are color-coordinated in rhodochrosite pink.


SDMG students and instructors win an "Award of Merit" ribbon for their Educational Class Display Case.


Faceting demonstrator Dave Smith with Wayne Moorhead.




Yes indeed, everyone was "Mad about the Fair!"  It was no surprise to the staff who worked the Fair this year or anyone who got caught in heavy traffic daily on I-5 around Del Mar that a blowout record for attendance was set – 1,609,481 visitors!  Was it the balmy weather at the seaside or miserably high temperatures inland that drew everyone to Del Mar?  Perhaps, it was the Fair theme which inspired a lot of visitors to tumble down the rabbit hole and attend the Mad Tea Party decked out in Alice in Wonderland and Steampunk costumes.  Hard to say for sure, but Anne Schafer, who took over from Greg Anderson as the Gems, Minerals and Jewelry Department Coordinator, with able support from Asst. Coordinator Rich Yarbrough and a stalwart band of seasoned staff members were prepared to meet and greet wave after wave of visitors who ventured into the Exhibit Hall every day.  This year there were over 300 exhibitors and more than 75 display cases on view, including an entry by the SDMG Junior Division and a special exhibit in tribute to Greg Anderson, who passed away earlier this year. 

The Mineral of the Year for 2016 was Minerals of South America. The Fossil of the Year was Ice Age Fossils.  And just for this year, there were two new jewelry categories based on the Fair theme: Alice in Wonderland –and– Steampunk. 

Exhibits this year included the ever popular fluorescent mineral room, where the specimens literally "lit up" under the glow of black lights.  Greg Anderson's collection of fluorescent minerals were an extra special bonus.  There were several stellar cases of spheres; full cases of geodes and petrified wood; educational exhibits about chasing & repoussé, casting, mica and more; and for something completely different, a case or two of artwork inspired by mineral specimens.  Quite a few SDMG members entered the Fair competition this year, with many winning entries from our members doing our Club proud!  Congratulations to one and all!  See the complete list of winning entries (by class/division).

Demonstrations varied daily. They included chain-making, gem faceting, and sphere making.  Free gem identification was provided by the Gemological Society of San Diego every Saturday and Sunday.  Knowledgeable staff provided daily docent tours of the exhibits, and kids were invited to sift for treasures in the sand pile.


Thanks to our Volunteers and Vendors!

It is no secret that to make the Gems, Minerals & Jewelry Department an appealing must-see destination at the Fair, it takes an army of dedicated Staff and Volunteers to explain to an interested public what makes all the natural and fashioned splendors on display so very special and fascinating.  Their hands kept the exhibits sparkling clean and lit to best effect, and the Hall was kept safe and secure.  The Vendors drew oohs and ahs over the offerings, which gave people the opportunity to acquire some marvelous mementos.  Their participation burnished the luster of another great year at the Fair!  Thanks to one and all – we are simply Mad about You for all you have done.



Thank you to our Gemstone Exhibitors
by Bob Hancock

I wish to Thank the exhibitors who displayed gemstones in the Educational Class Display Case at the San Diego County Fair of 2016.  The display case is made up of gemstones produced by students and Instructors of the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society.  Our display case this year won an "Award of Merit" (a green ribbon and a cash award of $50.00), which is the highest award in this category.  Congratulations to the exhibitors and "Well Done."

  • Patty Miklik
  • Dave Smith
  • Itziar Parramon
  • Jamjie Tollefson
  • Elbert McCune
  • Mark Elmendorf
  • Simon King
  • Tim Sandiford


Thank you to our Fair Facetors
by Bob Hancock

Demonstrators at the Fair: Facetors of the San Diego Mineral & Gem Society held faceting demonstrations on weekdays throughout the entire time the San Diego County Fair was open in 2016.  The facetors cut sparkling gemstones on the UltraTec Faceting Machine, while explaining the various steps to the thousands of visitors who came by to watch.  Hoards people stopped by to observe the faceting demonstration, asking many questions and inspecting the machine, as well as our finished gemstones.  Many folks were totally amazed at seeing a live demonstration of gem cutting and the quality of workmanship produced by our students and instructors.  I want to congratulate all of our factors on their outstanding performance, and thank you for a job well done.

  • Elbert McCune
  • Lu Ann Benton
  • Robert Hanson
  • Lisa Allison
  • James Curtis
  • Donna Casey
  • Letty Evans
  • Dave Smith
  • Malic Bedford
  • Peggy Thomas
  • Larry Shute
  • Jerod Schneider
  • Morna Morimoto





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