The Wildcat Gem and Mineral Show is returning to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale. For three days, Sept. 9 through the 11th, gem and mineral merchants from all over will converge on the Bellotti Hall to show off a large selection of precious and semi-precious gems, jewelry, minerals, and fossils of the north coast. According to organizer Mike Martin, the show will feature close to 40 dealers who hail from Idaho, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Arizona and of course, California.

It will be a busy weekend in Ferndale with the annual "Bargain Lovers' Weekend" and

the Willie Nelson concert on Friday night at the fairgrounds, so go early to the Gem Fest which will be open till 7 p.m.

Martin is a gem and mineral man himself who with wife Norma, owns and operates The Stonery in Garberville. Together, they have been gemstone collectors for over 25 years, and in business for 8 years with The Stonery. The Garberville store has been active for 2 years.

In its seventh year, the annual gem and mineral show plays into one of Martin's passions which is to support the Ferndale High School athletic department.

Martin said that 8 years ago, his cousin, Duane, tried to solicit funds from alumni for team uniforms, but he didn't get very far with it. But then, at Martin's father's memorial service, he discovered he and his cousin had a hobby in common: gemstones.


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”My wife, Norma and I had a number of years of advertising and marketing experience, so I suggested we hold a gem show. The rest is history.”

Since moving to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, the gemshow has grown from 9 vendors to 35 or 40 vendors annually.

According to Martin, the Ferndale High uniform fund covers all sports activities, even cheerleader outfits, and the Wildcat Gem Society makes no profit with the exception of a club raffle and snack bar. The building, insurance, advertising, and all other expenses are covered by vendor fees. All proceeds from the silent auction are donated to the athletic department's uniform fund. To date, $11,000 has gone toward that fund, generated by dollars from the gem show. Wildcat Gem Society Officers include Mike Martin, President, Norma Martin, Secretary, and Duane Martin, Treasurer. For serious buyers, a GIA Appraiser will be available at the event.

Hours for the 3-day show are Friday: noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details, call Mike at 943-1575, or Duane at 786-9327.