VISITORS TO THE 30th annual Rock and Gem Show presented by the El Dorado County Mineral and Gem Society will see fascinating collections, demonstrations and items for sale. The show is Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Democrat file photo by Pat Dollins


Are you ready to rock … or petroglyph … or fossil?

By From page B2 | October 16, 2013

What: 30th annual Rock and Gem Show

Who: El Dorado County Mineral and Gem Society

Where: El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, Placerville

When: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day

Cost: Adults $4 and children 12 and under free. Adults who bring a “gently used” children’s coat will have $1 taken off the admission price. Parking is $5

Information: 530-676-2472 or visit


It took more than 160 million years, but a tyrannosaurus rex has found its way to El Dorado County.

A skull of one of the granddaddies of all dinosaurs will be on display Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19 and 20 during the 30th annual Rock and Gem Show at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville, courtesy of longtime fossil collector Ed Rigel of Volcano, a small town in neighboring Amador County.

Rigel, 52, has been collecting fossils for more than 40 years, beginning at the tender age of 10 to follow not only in his dad’s footsteps, but in the huge tracks left by dinosaurs and other animals whose preserved remains hold a fascination so many millennia later.

“My dad and granddad started collecting fossils in the ’40s,” said Rigel from his home Monday, after having returned from a big rock and gem show in Grass Valley, Placer County, over the weekend. “As soon as I could carry my own tools and my own finds, they started taking me.”

The show set for this weekend at the fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive, celebrates three decades of the El Dorado County Mineral and Gem Society’s Rock and Gem Show. Along with the oohs and ahhs sure to arise from children and adults alike as they view Rigel’s T-rex, other golden, glittering, sparkling and breath-taking items will take center stage, as collectors proudly show off their finds and acquisitions.

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The $4 admission fee for adults is a real bargain, it includes a chance for half-hourly door prizes that will be given away in drawings. Children 12 and under get in free and adults who bring a “gently used” children’s coat will have $1 taken off the admission price.

The fairgrounds charges $5 for parking.


Rocking time

The goodies don’t stop with the frequent door prizes. A raffle featuring quality items will have proceeds going to the Mineral and Gem Society’s annual scholarships for El Dorado County high school graduates majoring in earth sciences or lapidary arts.

The raffle is at 4 p.m. Sunday, and ticket holders do not have to be present to win.

The show will feature 45 mineral and gem dealers and 40 case displays, with free activities and rocks for the kids. Demonstrations also will fill the two days and food and drink will be available for purchase.

A special educational exhibit, featuring the Age of Dinosaurs, is bound to draw an enthusiastic audience of young and old, who will be able to marvel and wonder at the huge skull of Rigel’s T-rex. When it walked the Earth it stood 25 to 30 feet tall and weighed a whopping 15 tons. The T-rex is on loan to Rigel, from his uncle in Tucson, Ariz., where it will be returned after the show in Placerville.

Rigel and his wife Annette, also 52, will have a booth at the show that not only features an array of fossils, but also gemstones and crystal beads.


Rewarding business

“This is a third-generation business for my family and me,” said Ed. “It has been a real adventure, traveling around the world. My collecting trips have been from Morocco, Australia, the island of Java, India, China, England and Zimbabwe, Africa. They also include trips to the Czech Republic, to the bead factories there, from which we import the glass beads that we sell.”

Rigel said the collecting of rocks, fossils and gems has been a rewarding life.

“This is one of the greatest hobbies that a family could be involved in, from getting out in nature during the collecting to the creativity involved in the finished pieces of jewelry,” he said.

Don’t miss the Rigels at the 30th annual Rock and Gem Show this Saturday and Sunday. Make sure to check out each of the booths during the show and splurge a little — take home one of the treasures for your own collection.

For more information call 530-676-2472 or visit

Pat Lakey

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