NC Mineral and Gem Festival now in 60th year
SPRUCE PINE – This year marks the 60th anniversary of the NC Mineral and Gem Festival in Spruce Pine welcoming rock hounds to roam the aisles of jewelry, gemstones and minerals from around the country Thursday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 4, at a new location, just steps away from the former site and still located in the Spruce Pine Commons Shopping Center.
“Each year we welcome dealers to the Festival from as far away as California and as close to home as Little Switzerland,” said Patti Jensen, director of the Festival. “These dealers and the thousands of visitors that come to the Festival each year have a tremendous economic impact on our community.”
Spruce Pine has been deemed the most important mining district in the world and has celebrated nature’s resources in this mountain area for decades.
“The world would come to a slow crawl without the rich minerals from the Spruce Pine area,” Jensen said. “Spruce Pine provides more than 90 percent of the world’s purest quartz for the production of computer chips and many other uses. And, did you know that the ‘sand’ at Augusta National, home of the Master’s golf tournament, is crushed quartz trucked in from Spruce Pine?”
The 60th-anniversary event features many new additions to the weekend. The Festival begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, with a one-night-only VIP event that allows a first look of the Festival with live music, food, drinks, a silent auction and a 60th-anniversary “swag bag.” A special ribbon-cutting ceremony will open the Festival at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, with special guests from the local mining community, as well as sponsors, dignitaries and more.
The mine tours will happen this year during the Festival on Thursday, Aug. 1, and Friday, Aug. 2. The Quartz Corp. sponsors these tours and visitors can visit a local working mine and dig for keepsake rocks. The tours are a ticketed item and require reservations. Space is limited, and it is recommended to reserve a spot early.
Local gem-mining establishments offer special mine tours and special events at their locations.
The week is full of activities including an outdoor gem show at the Grassy Creek Mineral and Gem Show sponsored by the Parkway Fire Department. The Grassy Creek Mineral and Gem Show is Sunday, July 28, to Sunday, Aug. 4, a few miles down Highway 226 from the NC Mineral and Gem Festival.
The physical address of the new location for the NC Mineral and Gem Festival is 12085 S. Highway 226 in Spruce Pine. The times are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $4, with Senior Citizens admitted Thursday for $2 and Mitchell County residents admitted Sunday for $2.
Call the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce at 828-765-9033 or visit www.ncgemfest.com for more information. Sponsors of the Festival include Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, Duke Energy, Quartz Corporation, Sibelco, Walmart and Springmaid Mountain.