Snapshots from the Tucson 2000 Gem and Mineral Show
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Raising the Tents

Hey rockhounds, greetings from Tucson and welcome to my online Tucson 2000 Gem and Mineral Show report!

It was partially overcast with high clouds and hazy today on Wednesday, January 19th, with a high of 78°. Tucson usually delivers warm and sunny weather for the Show. Our normal daily high temperature runs about 65° to 70 ° during January and February, with nightly lows in the neighborhood of 40° to 45°. Tucson is about 2,400 feet above sea level and is one of the sunniest cities in the US, with 3,800 hours of sunshine a year and an annual rainfall which averages about 11 inches. Crews of Show workers are busy at locations all over Tucson erecting numerous pavilions and tents varying in size from modest to imperial. The Catalina Mountains just north of Tucson provide the background for this shot, which takes in several major Show locations in the downtown area.

At A is the Congress Street Expo, at B is the Days Inn, at C is the Four Points Hotel, at D is the GJX Pavilion, at E is the Downtown Holiday Inn and at F is the Tucson Convention Center. Once underway these and many of the other show locations will be linked together and serviced by a free shuttle system provided by various show promoters. Parking at some of the shows can be problematic and it is very convenient for buyers to commute from show to show on the shuttles.

Above is an overview of the Congress Street Expo, a major retail show for jewelry, rough and lapidary equipment. Like many of the others, this show just keeps expanding and getting bigger every year. Several new tents have been added at the Expo, including the large one shown under construction at right. They have even paved the ground underneath this new tent with asphalt. I think some hard lessons have been learned from experience during previous Shows when Tucson's normally mild desert winter weather turned mean. During the 1997 Show there was a major Disaster at the Congress Street Expo when the main tent collapsed in a sea of mud during an overnight storm, creating an incredible and demoralizing mess.

At left is a view of the courtyard area at the Four Points Hotel (formerly the Pueblo Inn) where a large auxiliary tent houses an Atrium Productions wholesale gem and jewelry show. The tent and this pleasant courtyard, as well as other tents and all the rooms at the Four Points will soon be packed with dealers, buyers and browsers.

The Four Points is one of a number of motels and numerous tents on 'the strip', a popular and heavily trafficked area between Congress and 22nd streets on Freeway Avenue, an access road that parallels Interstate 10. A seemingly endless road construction project along the strip which has caused this area to look more like a war zone and major access problems for the past several years seems to be more or less completed at last. It looks like getting in and out of the strip will be easier for the 2000 Show. The access and parking problems have been so bad along the strip while the construction was underway that there must have been some significant negative economic impact on numerous shows and dealers here and I'm sure they'll be glad to see the strip returning to a more orderly and facilitating condition this year.

Above are several views of the GJX pavilion under construction, where the Gem and Jewelry Exchange hosts a major wholesale gem and jewelry show. The GJX pavilion is enormous, freespaning a paved 50 by 110 meter floor. This pavilion features 'hard shell' panels rather than the more typical fabric covering and just erecting this structure is a major operation. The workers are nearly finished assembling the pavilion structure proper, but as you can see there is still a staggering amount of set up work to be done by this show's promoter and all its dealers before this show kicks off on February 3rd.

The cube shaped, earth colored building with several palm trees in front of it and just above the GJX pavilion in the picture above left is the downtown Holiday Inn, which is host to the Gem and Lapidary Dealers Association Show, yet another major wholesale gem and jewelry show.

At right is the Days Inn which has tents springing up like mushrooms all around it. The Days Inn is located several rather long blocks further south (to the right of the picture) than the overview at the top of the page takes in. The trade show within the Days Inn proper is a wholesale show, but most of the vendors in the adjacent and nearby tents and stalls are receptive to retail traffic and business with the public at large.

At left is the Holiday Inn Express with a row of tents being set up along the side of it. The Holiday Inn Express is located on the southern end of the strip at 22nd Street, which is south further still than the Day's Inn. The Pacifica/AKS gem and jewelry trade show within the Holiday Inn Express proper is a wholesale show, but most of the vendors and dealers in the nearby tents cater to retail as well as wholesale customers. One things for sure, if you're in doubt, it never hurts to ask.

The large structure in the center of the above picture is Tucson's Convention Center, which hosts both the wholesale American Gem Trade Association gem and jewelry show as well as the retail and educational 'Main Event' show hosted by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society started all of this back in 1955. The 2000 Show marks the TGMS's 46th annual show and their 28th year at the Tucson Convention Center.

The lower portion of this picture shows the 4 Points Hotel on the strip from its backside and another tent being set up adjacent to it. At lower right is an electrical power substation which had to be constructed to distribute power to all of the auxiliary lights the dealers deploy in their motel and hotel rooms at the various shows along the strip... ;)

The top part of this picture takes in a portion of the scenic University of Arizona campus and our football stadium. There are several dozen major show locations spread about Tucson and of course many more tents going up in other show areas. I'll be presenting more photos of them and their contents in upcoming days throughout the course of my Tucson 2000 report.

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