TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the original show put on by the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, Inc. (TGMS) and started in 1955, has canceled their 2021 show.
In a press release, the TGMS said COVID-19 risks make it “impossible for TGMS to put on anything more than a shadow of our accustomed vibrant event,” and that the society will make efforts for a “blockbuster 2022 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.”
“We could do this and have a show, and we could do this and have a show, but finally it comes down to ‘should we have a show’, and the answer to that is ‘no’,” said Dr. Peter Megaw, Tucson Gem and Mineral Society.
The release also sites TGMS did not want to be responsible for a “single COVID-19 fatality or serious illness.” TGMS’s show is run and put on by many volunteers who are in the vulnerable categories for COVID-19.
“They’ve decided they’re just not doing 2021... so that kind of opens up a lot of questions on how to do it,” said Dan Gibson with Visit Tucson.
It’s an event, along with the nearly 50 other usual gem shows, that packs people and money into Tucson. However, in 2021, Visit Tucson said they are expecting around 30 shows to continue. Closed borders to Canada, Mexico, Brazil and a large part of Europe limits not only travelers but showcases as well.
“You want to be optimistic... but I think people should certainly still expect fewer people because it’s just not possible to do it the same way we did it last year,” said Gibson.
The Pima County Health Department has released draft guidance for show owners that recommends quarantine for exhibitors, domestic or international, coming from a CDC determined hot spot. The guidance also limits the amount of people in open-air booths and hotel rooms and the minimum size of each. Operators have to submit a special event application and their public health measures as well. The county is sitting down and working with individual show owners on realistic guidelines.
“We continue to work with our partners at the City of Tucson to develop guidance for show operators, vendors, and buyers. We are currently working with gem show operators who have already submitted their event application to review their COVID-19 mitigation plan. We will be releasing more detailed information soon,” said Pima County Health Director, Dr. Theresa Cullen in a written statement.
“It’s going to change the scale of the show, there’s no way around that at this point,” said Gibson. “What we’re looking at it (is) how do you preserve as much of it as you can.”
In a letter, the TGMS said, “…it is clear that applying the mandated COVID-19 protocols to reduce risk would mean drastically restricted attendance and curtailment of many of our programs.” The letter later goes on to mention, “Restrictive COVID-19 travel policies mean many of our major domestic, and mot of our international museum exhibitors and friends either won’t or can’t travel here. This effectively eliminates both our exhibits and educational programs.”
Still, many shows will go on. Ara Hacobian, owner of Abbey’s Treasure Inc., has been traveling from California to sell at the JOGS show since 2008— and is planning on doing the same in 2021— even though he saw a drop in sales even at the 2020 winter show.
“We’re intending on being there, and we’re just hoping for the best, and we’re hoping that people show up, and that’s all we can do,” he said.