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Rocking good time on tap for annual rock swap and mineral show

GILSUM — The 48th annual Gilsum Rock Swap and Mineral Show this weekend is tied to the town's rich heritage in mining and minerals.

According to a town history, written in 1880 after a rain shower, &#';the village street is noticeably red with garnets of the finest quality, but so minute as to be unavailable to the jeweler.&#';

While akin to an Old Home Day event to many residents of the town, the Rock Swap has a nationwide draw of rock and mineral collectors and dealers.

Over 60 dealers are expected to attend the event, said organizer Rob Mitchell said.

While they come from across the country, many of the dealers spend months out of every year collecting their specimens from different parts of the world, including Africa, Russia and Afghanistan, Mitchell said.

&#';So there's all these different types of minerals from around the world,&#'; he said. &#';There is a woman; all she brings in is lava and opals from Iceland.&#';

This year's Rock Swap has a prospecting flavor to it, including a talk on prospecting Saturday night.

There is also a &#';diamond dig&#'; planned as a fundraiser for the Community Kitchen in Keene and the Gilsum 250th Committee, which has formed to plan the town's 250th anniversary next year.

For a small price, visitors can take a scoop of sand from the diamond pit to take a stab at finding diamonds donated by Good Fortune in Keene.

&#';Some of the diamonds are actually worth quite a bit of money, so if you get one, you might get something good,&#'; Mitchell said.

The popular children's activity &#';mining for minerals&#'; is also back again this year.

Though there's plenty of fun and games, the Rock Swap has a harder side to it.

Two talks will be in the Gilsum Elementary School Gymnasium on Saturday, starting with James Tovey of Francestown at 2 p.m., who is scheduled to give an overview of how he transform rough gemstones into fine jewelry, from extradition from his mine in Alstead to the finished pieces.

At 7 p.m., Steve Garza of Corydon, Ind., will present Prospecting for Beginners, a guide to new rock hounds.

The Rock Swap is held at the Gilsum Elementary School and town recreation fields on Route 10 on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Meghan Pierce may be reached at


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