BETHEL — The Oxford County Mineral and Gem Association’s annual show is back, and expected to draw a bigger crowd than usual this weekend.

The 59th annual Western Maine Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Show will be held at Telstar High School on Route 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“Maine is known worldwide for the minerals and gems that are found here, and it started with mining a hundred years ago,” Tom Hoffelder, president of the Oxford County Mineral & Gem Association, said. Educating people about Maine’s geological history is one of the key goals of the association, which was founded in 1948.

Maggie Kroenke, manager of the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum on Main Street, added, “People have been mining in Maine since the 1800s, and it was a large aspect of Maine’s economy.”

Maine’s rich geological history is a large factor in why the Mineral & Gem Association holds its annual mineral, gem and jewelry show at Telstar.

Festival Chairman Dennis Gross said, “People come to the show, and they cannot believe how many different types of rocks there are.”


He said, on average each year, they have around 1,500 attendees, and due to the past two events being canceled during the pandemic, he anticipates this year’s attendance will approach upward of 4,000 people.

Gross, who owns a gem shop in Bethel, said he finds joy in teaching young children about these gems and making sure each child leaves with a gem to take home.

“These gem and mineral shows and festivals are, for sure, education without being in a classroom,” Kroenke explained.

She said when children are able to go to these shows and talk to experts about the rocks it teaches them about science and geology in a fun and interactive environment.

“Anything to get kids to learn about science is a good thing, because they’re the future researchers and future scientists, so hopefully we can show them that there’s more to rocks than just rocks,” Kroenke said.

Hoffelder said he finds great joy when he teaches people about the gems and minerals featured in the show. “Being a docent, I’ve handed pieces of the Moon and Mars to a lot of people and it’s really a great feeling.”


The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum uses docents, like Hoffelder, to guide visitors through the museum and teach about the exhibits.

Gross encourages people to attend the festival. “Come and get a good education and learn about gems sourced locally and gems found all over the world,” he said.

Admission is $3; children under 12 are free.

The door prize for this year’s show is a piece of watermelon tourmaline in cleavelandite from the Nevel Mine in Newry.

According to the Oxford County Mineral and Gem Association, it was formed in 1948 by a group of people who liked collecting rocks. In particular, they enjoyed collecting from the incredibly rich pegmatite mines of Oxford County, mines that remain active today. In addition to being devoted rock hounds, its members are also “jewelry makers, faceters, cabbers, mineral sellers, miners and lovers of all things mineral.”

In addition to the annual mineral, gem and jewelry show and association outings, the association provides scholarships to high school students and funds some students to attend the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond. For more information about the group, go to:

To learn more about the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, go to:

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