JANESVILLE—“All That Glitters,” the Badger Lapidary & Geological Society’s annual rock, gem and mineral show, is returning to the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds for its 50th annual event Oct. 30-31.
Attendees will celebrate all things geological, from minerals found near the Rock River to those discovered in underwater oceanic volcanoes. Even rocks found on neighboring planets are on the schedule for discussion.
The show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It is free and open to the public, and all activities take place at the fairgrounds’ Craig Center, 1301 Craig Ave., Janesville. Guest speakers, children’s games and demonstrations all will be part of the program.
Here are five things worth knowing about the show before it kicks off:
1. The difference between a mineral, rock and gem.
While most collectors and club members at the show will be able to answer this question, here is a helpful reminder on the difference between a mineral, a rock and a gem:
- Minerals are formed from single elements. Examples include quartz, phosphorous and gold.
- Rocks are made from groups or collections of varying minerals.
- Gems are minerals or stones that have been polished, cut, worked or altered using human methods.
2. Rock collecting doesn’t discriminate. It’s for everyone.
Whether or not you can tell the difference between a precious gem or a shiny pebble, people with varying interests will find something to capture their attention at the show.
Attendees who want to know more about fossils can listen to author Kenneth Gass speak at 1 p.m. Sunday about his new book “Fossils of The Milwaukee Formation.”
Beginning rock collectors can hear about decades worth of collecting from club member Mike Riesch when he presents “50 Years of Collecting” at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Other informational sessions include:
- Brooke Norsted of the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum presenting “Stories in Stone” at 11 a.m. Saturday.
- “The Fossil Hut” owner Don Baumgartner of Palatine, Illinois, will present “The Science of Jurassic Park” at 3 p.m. Saturday.
- Isotope geochemist Sean Scott presenting “Oceanic Geology” at 11 a.m. Sunday.
There also are activities such as gem panning that teach participants how to sift for gold and gems, a 4-foot-long cephalopod, a 100-pound meteorite, and a sand-sifting station that allows children to dig for and learn about fossils.
Even displays presented by club members will range in both knowledge and age.
“One of our younger club members is doing a display on geodes. I believe he is around 11 or so,” Trocke said.
3. Collector items are everywhere.
Even rocks in the backyard can begin a budding geology enthusiast’s collection.
“We’ve got club members that pick up things when they go out for a walk along the river,” Trocke said. “And then we have club members that plan their vacations around collecting.”
Eleven vendors will be on-site, including Mystic Moraine Minerals and Rockhound’s Shop in Janesville.
The club also offers rock collecting trips to help members expand their collections.
“Several people from the club did a two-week trip to Georgia to go rock hunting (in 2019),” Trocke said.
Future club trips will include a fossilized geode hunt in Indiana and amethyst gathering in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
4. There are rocks that glow in the dark.
A staple of the rock, gem and mineral show is the fluorescent mineral room maintained by Trocke’s husband, Dan, who serves as the club’s field trip chair.
The interactive display shows a naturally occurring phenomenon in some rocks that light up under fluorescent lamps or blacklights.
“Basically, they have trace elements and things like that in them that make them just a little bit unstable, so that they respond to the blacklight,” Laurie Trocke said.
Kids will be able to use flashlights to examine rocks and even take one home.
5. The club and show are open to anyone.
Originally based in Monroe, the club started meeting and hosting its show in Janesville about five years ago. Attendees come from as far away as Milwaukee and throughout Illinois.
Since moving, membership and attendance to the show has steadily grown. The 2019 show counted about 4,200 people attending across two days, Trocke said.
The club will have annual membership forms available, and costs range from $15 to $20 annually.