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Rocks star in annual Gem, Mineral, Jewelry and Fossil Show


The real rock stars are at the 34th annual Willamette Valley Gem, Mineral, Jewelry & Fossil Show at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds this weekend.

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - The time-weathered hands of Wayne Miller holding a Labodrite Drawing Specimen.Wayne Miller has been fascinated by his love for rocks since he was a small boy in Trenton, North Dakota. He moved to Oregon, in 1937, at the age of 11. Due to the Great Depression of the 1930's and also the weather conditions being what they were, it was nearly impossible for his folks to make a living ranching.

Soon after they arrived in Oregon, they chose the Canby-Oregon City area for their home. The family made frequent visits to the coast, and those trips only sparked Wayne’s love of collecting rocks. Oregon offers such a wide variety of collectable materials, His love and knowledge of them has grown over the years, taking him into many different areas of the state. Rock hounds are like magnets — they attract others to them.

Wayne has spent many hours sharing his knowledge and materials with school children and scout groups around the area. It is hard to say who enjoys those sessions more, Wayne or the children.

When Wayne and Jean Miller were married it was a given that she would share his special love of rocks. Sure enough, she did, and the couple has tried to expand that love to others in the community.

The idea for the Miller’s Gem, Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show started back in January 1982. One evening Wayne and Jean were talking about how wonderful it would be to have a Rock Show on this side of the mountains. He had not missed one of the Madras and Prineville shows in years. Both shows were close together during the summertime, but nothing close to the Portland, Salem areas.

“So we jumped in with both feet, and on Labor Day Weekend September 3,4,5 of 1983 we had our first Willamette Valley Gem, Mineral, Jewelry, and Fossil Show, holding it at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, in Canby,” Jean said.

That first year, the show was an outdoor event held in the fairgrounds’ carnival area, just inside the main gate.

“The first two years we had a problem getting someone to do the cooking for our event, so Wayne and I got the permits and food stocked and I did the food booth,” she said. “It wasn't as bad as it sounds, as my profession was a cook. It was a challenge, though, as Wayne and I didn't have a work force to draw from. Looking back those were very special times. Everyone is like a unique member of our family.”

The first show started on Saturday so that it could run through the Labor Day holiday. “We have made changes on the show, but not the hours,” she said. The hours have remained the same: Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Our second show was Labor Day 1984, and we enlarged it and used the pavilion building as well as the carnival area,” she said. “That wasn't a good move, because it divided the show making it impossible to continue.”

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - The show will feature gems and rocks incorporated into jewelry pieces, along with the gem and rocks.The 4-H building was added to the show in 1985, due to the request of several of vendors who carried merchandise of a more delicate nature. She said that was a wonderful choice, as they were then able to increase the size and quality of the show. The annual show now takes in the Horning Hall, 4- H building and the original carnival area.

“We are very happy to say we have made so many wonderful friends during these 30 years,” she said. “Our admission at the gate is still the same price (a smile).”

What: Willamette Valley Gem, Mineral, Jewelry and Fossil Show

Where: The Clackamas County Fair Grounds

When: Saturday, Aug. 31 - Monday, Sept. 2.

Times: Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Monday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission and parking: free

A free strand of beads will be given daily to the first 75 ladies to arrive at the show.

A drawing will be held for a beautiful labadorite specimen. Tickets for the drawing are $1 each or six for $5. The drawing will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2. To those of you familiar with our show, we still have the Horning Hall 4-H building, also the large open area as you enter the fairgrounds.

A free strand of beads will be given to the first 75 ladies daily. Be there early so you don’t miss out.

There will also be a drawing, again this year, for a beautiful labadorite specimen. Tickets are $1.00 ea or 6 for $5.00. The drawing will be Sunday, September 2, at 2:30 p.m. A few of the items there will be beads of different qualities, in a beautiful rainbow of colors as well. Crystals all unique and such a large variety materials, estate jewelry of that perfect someone in your life, fossils like most of us have never seen before, gemstones in a rainbow of colors as well as size. One of a kind hand crafted jewelry pieces, 14k and sterling silver jewelry as well and dazzling opals.