Brad Hicks - 9/2/2022

Review of the Contin-Tail Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show in Buena Vista, Colorado


By Brad Hicks


I headed to Buena Vista, Colorado, last weekend for a gem and mineral show that I’d heard a lot of good things about, the Contin-Tail Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show. I drove down from Denver, about a 130-mile drive, and the show, indeed, was worth the drive! This outdoor show was larger than I expected, and it couldn’t have had a more beautiful setting — located in a vast field on the Buena Vista Rodeo Grounds with a breathtaking view of the towering Collegiate Peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The Collegiate Peaks are popular summits of the Sawatch Range and gets its name because the Mounts are named after famous colleges, specifically Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Oxford.


The show featured over 100 vendors this year, and as I walked the show there was a palpable positive energy from every vendor that I visited. You can tell that the sellers all love being at this show, and so did the show attendees and buyers. After the show, I was able to chat with Rachel Ford, owner and operator of the show. Here’s the feedback she offered in our conversation.


Drusy Amethyst Geode at the show

Would you consider the show a success this year? And why?


Rachel: Yes, I consider this year's show a success. While attendance was down from the "boom" after Covid last year, many vendors said they did extremely well still and a few even sold out of the merchandise they were showcasing completely. The show went extremely well from an organizer’s stand point and we almost had a completely full show despite many last-minute cancellations from vendors.


How many vendors were in attendance this year?


Rachel: There were 111 vendors in attendance this year.


What were the highlights of the show this year?


Rachel: I always appreciate the local minerals that find their way to the show. Lost Creek Mining joined us for the first time this year and brought some of their beautiful aquamarine from nearby Mount Antero. There were several vendors with great finds of smoky quartz, Amazonite, fluorite from the Lake George wilderness. Sacred Geology brought their interesting fluorite finds from the Astro Mine on Pikes Peak. Art by Nature & Design had these really unique handmade kaleidoscopes for sale I couldn’t help but purchase one for my home and share it with everyone I could. The real "gem" of the show is how personable the vendors are, each one of them comes with stories they are willing to share. It makes the show fun.

 Bodie Packham of Runnin' Boar Minerals with an especially large, locally mined, Smoky Quartz & Amazonite specimen at the 2022 show. 

Yeah, I bought one of those very cool kaleidoscopes too, Rachel. I gave it to my mom for just a non-special-day gift, and she loved it!


Is this the largest outdoor show in the country based on number of vendors? What are some of the other big outdoor shows in the U.S.?


Rachel: This is certainly the largest outdoor show in Colorado. It is second only, I believe, to a few of the shows that happen in Quartzsite, Arizona, each year. There are several shows that happen in Quartzsite every December through March that are very large.


By the way, where did the name Contin-Tail come from for the show?


Rachel: I always get asked about the name Contin-Tail. Contin-Tail stands for Continental Divide Tailgate. I have always found it a neat aspect that people interested in geology, from all over the United States, meet at this division (which is the separation of our country's drainage basins) to sell their wares annually.


I happen to think that Rachel is one outstanding show promoter. She resides in Texas, does all the marketing for this show, registers all the vendors, then travels hundreds of miles to Buena Vista to manage the show. Keep up the good work, Rachel. This is a must-visit show for anyone in the region and for any rockhound anywhere in search of the best rock, gem, and mineral shows in North America.

Queensland Agates at Doc's Rocks Booth

All photos by Brad Hicks, cover photo is of Enhancing The Stone's booth in The Buena Vista Contin-Tail Gem, Mineral, & Fossil Show 2022