Joshua Eull, 11, of St. Michael, Minn., got himself a good deal on a fossil Saturday afternoon at the annual River Valley Rockhounds Inc. Gem, Mineral and Fossil show held in the Career Education Building on the Iowa Central Community College campus.
The rock, with a mineralized critter embedded in it was a silent auction item, one of a about a dozen specimens of different rocks available.
How much did it set him back?
“I got it for a buck,” he said.
Of course it’s hard to leave a show with just one fossil to add to a growing collection.
“I spent $51,” he said. “I got some geodes, some fluorescent rocks, some crystals – and some chunks of petrified wood.”
Eull started collecting rocks after he attended the Rockhounds show last year. His collection is now up to about 250 pieces.
“I just like the way they look and the texture,” he said.
He also has support for his hobby at home. His mom, Theresa Eull, is an avid collector too.
“I have more than he does,” she said. “They’re all over the house.”
She said she enjoys being able to enjoy the hobby with her family. They are planning a field trip or two this summer to collect specimens.
Ed Dvorak, of Dorchester, Neb., drove 250 miles to get to the show. He’s not only an avid collector, he’s also a vice president of the Lincoln Gem and Mineral Club.
“I’ve never been to this show, so I thought I’d check it out,” he said.
He was enjoying the show’s vendors and making new friends with local collectors.
“It’s always worth the drive,” he said.
In addition to the free admission, the Rockhounds also provide egg cartons that children at the show can fill with rocks to start their very own collections or add to what they already have.
Eva Baker, 10, of Fort Dodge, was one of those selecting from the available rocks.
Her criteria was simple.
“The biggest one,” she said.
For Baker, the dozen rocks in her egg carton was going to be the start of a collection. One of the things about collecting she was looking forward to was that “you can find them anywhere,” she said.
Alyvia Hout, 9, of Fort Dodge was going to add her dozen rocks to an existing collection.
She likes the variety.
“They come in different shapes and sizes,” she said.
She also said she enjoyed learning about how they were created and the geography of where they are found.
Her brother, Landen Hout, 7, was picking some out too. He was using the same criteria as Baker.
“I got the biggest ones,” he said.
John Franklin, of Des Moines, was attending the show as a vendor. He makes jewelry from silver wire and sheets with stones set into them. He also practices a technique called anti-clastic raising.
The process involves taking a blank sheet of metal, the bending it along the edges so it folds over onto itself. This results in rings and bracelets that are hollow. He also uses it to make flowers.
“I do all of that with only two hammers and an anvil,” he said.
The show continues today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.