Every year, the Tucson Gem And Mineral Society decides on a show theme. The theme of this year's Gem and Mineral Show is the great mineral Fluorite. This popular mineral comes in a rainbow of colors, and comes from all different types of mineral deposits all over the world. It can form in fascinating crystals that are true marvels of the mineral kingdom. The theme permeates the Tucson air, with the exhibits, lectures, and magazine articles all reflecting this Fluorite theme.
Hershel's Writeup on the Specific Tucson Shows:
This will be my fourth consecutive year visiting Tucson for the shows, and I have put together a write-up on each of the important shows based on my own experience attending them. There are certainly many more shows aside from the ones below, but I believe the ones listed here are the most significant. I will still go around and do some additional exploring this year, and perhaps have some new shows or additional information to share next year.
The Main TGMS Show
This is the largest and most prominent of the shows, and the one that started all the buzz in Tucson. This show is organized by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, and is located in the large Tucson Convention Center right by downtown Tucson. The show first started in 1955, and has been growing ever since. There are over 250 dealers at the show, including mineral, gemstone, and fossil dealers. This show is always on the second full weekend in February that starts with a Thursday. It runs from Thursday through Sunday. This year the show starts on February 14, the latest ever, due to February starting on Friday.
At the main TGMS show, almost all the recognized dealers are present. Prices on specimens are generally steep, and bargain hunters may have a more difficult time than usual. But the quality and displays of the dealers, as well as the quantity of amazing minerals, is just mind-boggling. Aside from the vast number of dealers, this show hosts world-class display exhibits featuring outstanding specimens from both private collections and museums. There are also many programs and lectures from keynote speakers throughout the show.
Parking in this show can be difficult. While the convention center has its own fee-based parking lot, it fills up pretty quickly, and once that happens street parking can be very difficult.
The InnSuites Show
The InnSuites Show is located in the Hotel Tucson City Center, a sprawling outdoor hotel complex with hundreds of rooms that are filled with mineral dealers. Outside the hotel are also plenty of dealers in tents and smaller satellite shows. The original name of this hotel was the InnSuites, and although the hotel name has changed to the Hotel Tucson City Center, the original InnSuites name is how everyone still refers to this show. The official name of this show is the Arizona Mineral & Fossil Show, and it is the largest Tucson show organized by Marty Zinn. Many of the prominent dealers set up at this show, as well as the main Tucson show. In fact, it is not uncommon to see prominent dealers set up at multiple show venues.
This show is second-to-none after the main TGMS show. It is located less than 5 minutes north of downtown, and parking at this show is free and ample. This show opens about 2 weekends prior to the TGMS show and ends on the Sunday when the TGMS show ends.
< Hershel with Giant Quartz crystals at the Pueblo show
The Pueblo Show
The Pueblo Gem & Mineral show is located in the Riverpark Inn, right off Interstate 10 southeast of downtown Tucson. This is a large show, occupying most the rooms of this hotel, with a maze of different tents throughout the property. While there are many cut gemstone and bead dealers at this show, many important dealers are starting to call this show home. It is a laid back and relaxing show, and definitely worthwhile visiting. Parking is $5, and although parking can be tight and the lot can fill up, there is usually availability. This show opens about 2 weekends prior to the TGMS show and ends on the Sunday when the TGMS show ends.
The Shows Along the I-10 Corridor
North and south of the Pueblo show, the tents continue, with a cluster of motels that are filled with dealers, and a vast maze of outdoor dealer tents. The southern stretch along the west side of the highway is continuous and incredibly dense with shows, starting at the Motel 6 and going along the Travelodge, Howard Johnson, and La Quinta. It is fascinating to walk through this area. Most of these dealers are foreign, and Brazilian, Moroccan, and Pakistani dealers are especially well-represented. There are various makeshift parking areas around the empty lots here, and they charge between $3-$5. These shows usually start at the end of January or beginning of February, and they wind down when the TGMS show has completed.
Shows along the I-10 Corridor, with the Pueblo Show in the Center.
22nd Street Show
This is the fastest growing show in Tucson, and is located across Interstate 10 right near the rest of the dense agglomeration of shows along the highway corridor. This show is hosted in a whopping 60,000 square-foot tent, and is probably the largest of all show tents in Tucson. Many new dealers are finding this show very attractive, and lots of good deals can be found here. This show caters to mineral, gemstone, jewelry, and fossil dealers. Parking is free, and the tent is heated. A good suggestion is to park here, and then take the free shuttle to the other locations. This show opens about 2 weekends prior to the TGMS show, and ends on the Sunday when the TGMS show ends.
Westward Look Show
This show is an exclusive show for high-end buyers and dealers. It is located in the Westward Look Resort, which is about a twenty minute drive north of the center of Tucson, in the quiet foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The scenery here is beautiful and relaxed, and this show has a very different atmosphere than the others. Many of the finest minerals can be seen exhibited at this show. This show is always on the weekend prior to the main TGMS show and goes from Friday through Monday. Parking is free.
Kino Electric Park Show
This is a very large show about 15 minutes southeast of the center of Tucson. The show is held in a vast sprawling field, with many dealers in trailers and RV’s, as well as several very large tents. Many of the dealers display gemstone and beads, but some good mineral deals can still be found here. This show opens about 2 weekends prior to the TGMS show and ends on the Sunday when the TGMS show ends. Parking is free.
Executive Inn Show
This was an important show in the past years, but the show has declined. When I went last year there was nothing going on there, and it looked like the motel was being renovated or under new management. However, it seems like this year they are trying to restart this show again.