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Frank Parrish grew up in El Paso. A self-identified rockhound by the age of 7, he scoured the Franklin Mountains for rocks and fossils as he grew up, ultimately picking up degrees at the University of Texas-El Paso in geology and zoology.
Now retired, he still loves the minerals and decided to share his enthusiasm with the southern New Mexico community. Feb 17 and 18, the Museum ROCKS! Gem and Mineral Show returns to Las Cruces for its 11th year, with 75 vendors displaying gems, rock and mineral samples and jewelry showcasing outstanding examples of fossils, minerals in the wild, gemstones and jewelry from around the world.
“Growing up, there were rock shows and shops across the southwest, but we didn’t have anything here for a long time,” Parrish said. “I thought it would be a great idea in Las Cruces. There is a rich history of mining in the area.”
Also, as a professional area photographer, the beauty in nature is a big part of his fascination with the world of geology.
“Everything about rocks and minerals has always appealed to me,” he said. “Everything in our material world revolves around metals. One way or another, rocks and minerals is basic to everything from cement to asphalt.”
Steven Loring, an organizer of the event and member of the Friends of the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, said the museum is the perfect place for the gem and mineral show. Retired from a career at New Mexico State University in biology and agriculture, Loring connects the mineral history with today’s world and the future.
“I have been involved in natural resources management, so I’m very interested in how to tell the story of agriculture and its importance,” he said. “When you talk about natural resources, it gets into soil formation, which goes back to the minerals.”
He sees his volunteer work at the museum as the opportunity to share the importance of looking at the past as relating to the future.
“Just looking at a piece of jewelry, looking at it in the context of geology, is a launching pad for people to learn not only why geology is a nice piece of jewelry, but also what’s going on in the earth,” Loring said. “It’s all connected.”
The show allows people to learn about and enjoy the minerals without having to travel all the way to Tucson. Parrish said the Museum Rocks! event is timed to catch the dealers as they leave the big Tucson show. There will be some 75 vendors on hand from across the country.
The regular admission fee covers the show and all museum exhibits. Proceeds help the Friends of the Museum, a non-profit organization, support the museum’s educational and livestock programs.