TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - From fossils to meteorites and sparkling gems, vendors at the 22nd Street Mineral & Fossil Show are ready for one of the most exciting times of the year.
“Any wonder that the earth can produce, from diamonds to dinosaurs, we have it all," said Geoffrey Notkin, CEO of Aerolite Meteorites.
Hundreds of vendors were unpacking boxes, setting up displays and fixing lights Thursday, before doors opened Friday for another gem season.
“We put hundreds of hundreds of hours, probably over a thousand hours of preparation into it," said Notkin.
It’s preparation that’s priceless for Aerolite Meteorites. The local business has been taking advantage of one of Tucson’s main events for more than twenty years.
With hundreds of thousands of customers over the next two weeks, Notkin says it is important to take some security measures.
“There’s excellent security here that is provided by the show promoters, but we also have video cameras here all around the exhibit," said Notkin. "Meteorites are extremely rare and valuable, we have a lot of small things on the table, so it’s just a friendly discouragement to people who may want to pocket something.”
The ‘friendly discouragement’ is also taken seriously by show managers.
“Theft is always a problem. We are free entry and we welcome everybody, but sometimes the bad folks show up and take advantage of that," said Lowell Carhart, one of the managers for the 22nd Street Mineral & Fossil Show.
24-hour security started Tuesday at the show and going forward, there will always be at least three armed security officers on the property.
According to the show’s website, assigned space in a massive on-site 8′ x 8′ walk-in vault is available to vendors for $100.
“We are probably the most defended show with a lot of security, both undercover and with uniforms. We also have cameras everywhere and there’s even a canine unit at night," said Carhart. "So, this is not the place you want to come to in the middle of the night.”
According to the Tucson Police Department, officers are also contracted to work shows around town. The officers may assist the vendors with extra security in standing guard for open air display items or help get vendors safely to their vaults.
Any law enforcement officer who work the gem shows are contracted privately through the show organizers.
The Tucson 22nd Street Mineral & Fossil Show opens on Friday at 10 a.m.