Snapshots from the Tucson 2005 Gem and Mineral Show
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Intimidating Elements

The 2005 Tucson Show brings with it several significant changes of venue and locations. While these are all undoubtedly changes of necessity, unfortunately not all of these changes are necessarily improvements.

Held years past at the Ramada Inn aka Vagabond Plaza Hotel at 1601 North Oracle Road, the preeminent fossil show at Tucson has been lost. This longstanding former show was held under the Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show banner and had evolved and conglomerated over the years from a more general mix of dealers and minerals to become by far the largest, most diverse and most excellent concentration of fossils and fossil dealers at Tucson. All you had to say was "at the fossil show" and anyone familiar with Tucson immediately knew which venue you were referring to. Long known as the Ramada Inn, my understanding is that ownership of the motel has changed, precipitating not only a name change but the quitting as a show host and location.

Many of the former fossil show dealers have migrated to the other Arizona Mineral and Fossil Shows. Three of which, the Smuggler's Inn, the Clarion Hotel and the Ramada Ltd., are new show locations this year.

The Ramada Ltd. at 665 N. Freeway provides new digs for many of the fossil dealers displaced by the loss of their longstanding venue at the Ramada Inn. If you haven't heard of the Ramada Ltd. before, it is the former La Quinta motel recently reincarnated under a new name. That show has been off and on again and is hopefully stabilized now with a critical mass of fossil dealers. Unfortunately most people would not consider the Ramada Ltd. to be within walking distance of other anchor shows as the former fossil show was. The Ramada Ltd. also lacks anything like the courtyard at the old location, which added greatly to the ambiance of browsing the fossil show and also provided many of the dealers with sorely needed additional table and display space outside their rooms.

The InnSuites Hotel is yet another Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show, now well established, harboring some refugee fossil show dealers. So its not like all the rocks and knows were lost along with the former fossil show location. However, there has been some scattering of the returning fossil dealers and I'm afraid that a dynamic and show synergy which was a manifestation of their concentration has been adversely impacted by the loss of the longstanding show. It saddens me to see this happen.

Another major change this year has very dramatically impacted the mineral show held at the Executive Inn, 333 West Drachman. Once the reigning queen of mineral shows at Tucson, the show at the Executive Inn has been in noticeable decline for several years now. The Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show and Executive Inn have parted ways this year and while the Executive Inn has carried on into 2005 with an independent show, the dealer presence there is very significantly diminished and the 2005 show at the Executive is now but a shadow of its former glory. From the overall impression I received as I surveyed the Executive Inn show this year, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see another show there beyond 2005. If it is to carry on, the new Executive Inn show management has some substantive work ahead of them to salvage and rejuvenate this show. I note that with its opening day now come and gone, the still under construction home page for the 2005 Executive Inn Mineral and Fossil Show fails to provide even a street address for this show, and that's not a good sign folks...

Former Executive Inn dealers and rocks have migrated to a number of other shows including the Westward Look Resort Mineral Show, the InnSuites Hotel and the Clarion Hotel. This migration away from the Executive has actually been started and underway for several years now, so while this year's changes to mineral venues are significant they do not seem as disruptive, damaging and just plain irritating to me as the loss of the former fossil show location.

The former fossil show location and the Executive Inn are located just across the corner from each other, with yet another still operating Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show and favored haunt of mine, the Mineral and Fossil Marketplace Show, nestled between them. The Mineral and Fossil Marketplace Show carries on for 2005, but I expect the demise of the fossil show and very possible complete demise of the Executive Inn Show to also negatively impact the Mineral and Fossil Marketplace Show. Whether this show can even survive, much less flourish without the cross traffic and synergy from the fossil show and the Executive Inn seems somewhat less than a given to me.

A show manager's message in the 2005 Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show Guide states "We have a new 'ball game' at our new locations. Visitors will not find the intimidating elements we have tolerated for the past few years in the area north of downtown." I can only assume "intimidating elements" refers to the plague of crack heads, junkies, gang members, vagrants, prostitutes, danburite eaters and other less than upstanding-citizen-of-the-year types infesting that area in Tucson. Unfortunately our city managers and fathers have proven impotent and incompetent at cleaning that mess up.

The overall trend in venue and show location changes underway seems to be a still ongoing dispersion throughout the Old Pueblo. I noted with the first wave of openings on January 29th this year that the once marvelously convenient show shuttle system has become spread so thin due to servicing locations splattered all over Tucson that the shuttle routes and loops are now quite fragmented. The shuttle frequency now exceeds an hour for some routes and dates. For better or worse, there is no doubt the Tucson Show is changing. The show operators and promoters assure us the changes they are making are improvements. But after all, one has does have to keep in mind that show promoters just aren't doing their jobs unless they, well, promote...

What I see underway is both the public and wholesale Tucson Shows becoming increasingly fragmented and disjointed as they become physically splattered out. As anyone who has traveled much around Tucson will tell you, we've got some serious transportation issues. It may be all that's needed to maintain the dynamic and synergy the Tucson Shows have historically enjoyed as an effect of closer overall proximity is a beefed up shuttle system. With good enough transportation I don't suppose it would really matter what planets the satellite shows splatter out to. However that remains to be seen and done, and I am personally rather skeptical that this splattering out of the Tucson Shows is really a desirable thing from a number of perspectives, unless maybe you happen to be a member of the Los Vegas Chamber of Commerce...

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