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Tucson Gem and Mineral Show main event canceled for 2021

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 19:57:10-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The main Tucson Gem & Mineral Show has been canceled for 2021, organizers say.

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Society, which puts on the main gem show at the Tucson Convention Center each year, says they decided to cancel this year's show due to risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"TGMS does not want to be responsible for a single COVID-19 fatality or serious illness," the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society leaders said in a statement posted to their website. "Our Show is run by volunteers and many of us are in high-risk demographics...as are many of our participants and attendees. Consulting closely with the Pima County Health Department, the Mayor and City Manager’s offices and the good folks who run the TCC, 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."

While the main show will not go on as planned next year, it's possible that other adjacent booths and popup events not associated with the TGMS will continue as planned.

Here is the full statement from the TGMS:

In 1955, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society (TGMS) put on the first Tucson Gem and Mineral Show® in a grade-school cafeteria. From such humble beginnings sprang what is now collectively called the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, which occupies over 50 venues around town from mid-January through mid-February. [In case you’ve missed it in all the hoopla surrounding the commercial shows, our Show, the Main Show, takes place in the Tucson Convention Center.] The Tucson Showcase is by far the world’s largest gathering of gem, mineral, fossil, meteorite and related earth science collectors, dealers and museum scientists. The Arizona Department of Tourism estimates it annually brings about $130 million dollars to the Tucson economy making it our biggest tourism-related event. TGMS takes parental pride in the economic/commercial juggernaut the Showcase has become, but we remain a local, volunteer-based, non-profit, Earth-Science education-focused group open to all comers. [Please visit www.tgms.org for more info.]

Our Show is TGMS’s annual gift to Tucson...it is the only show by and for Tucsonans and we are extremely grateful for the support we have always received from our community. We hoped and planned for the best during these difficult days of COVID-19 but find events have conspired to force us to the painful decision to take 2021 off and focus on bringing things back at a higher level in 2022! As members of the Tucson community, we feel we should explain the reasoning behind this decision while emphasizing our full support for the remainder of the 2021 Tucson Showcase in whatever form it takes.

Most importantly, TGMS does not want to be responsible for a single COVID-19 fatality or serious illness. Our Show is run by volunteers and many of us are in high-risk demographics...as are many of our participants and attendees. Consulting closely with the Pima County Health Department, the Mayor and City Manager’s offices and the good folks who run the TCC, 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.

Second, our Show is much different from the rest of the Showcase. We are the public show with a unique combination of exhibits, school children visits, educational programs, scientific networking and family outreach. We annually create a world-class museum that magically disappears forever after just four days. Our equally enthralling “gift shop” includes a cadre of superb retail gem, mineral, fossil, meteorite, book and jewelry dealers, who complement the exhibits. This unique combination sets the TGMS Show apart from all the other shows in town.

Third, we expect that our Show dazzles everyone with displays of exquisite minerals, gems, jewelry and fossils brought by the worldwide Mineral and Gem Community. Restrictive COVID-19 travel policies mean many of our major domestic, and most of our international museum exhibitors and friends either won't or can't travel here. This effectively eliminates both our exhibits and educational programs.

COVID-19 related risks clearly make it impossible for TGMS to put on anything more than a shadow of our accustomed vibrant event. So, we’ve decided that it makes more sense to conserve our resources and apply them towards a Blockbuster 2022 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show®. We promise to pull out all the stops to bring you an unparalleled group of eye-popping fluorescent mineral exhibits, colorful minerals and gems from around the world, and some special surprises to shake everyone out of their post-Covid lethargy!!! See you in 2022!

Visit Tucson, which promotes Tucson tourism says the Gem Show at TCC, and independent shows that sprang up around it put about $120 million into the local economy.

Dan Gibson of Visit Tucson said the good news is out of fifty independent shows, at least thirty still plan to open.

He said the challenge right now is to keep Tucson on the minds of travelers and reach travelers who may feel COVID makes it too risky to fly.

"So we're focusing on places that are drive markets, you know, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego," Gibson said."To the lesser extent Denver Salt Lake City Albuquerque, you know, even Texas to some extent, you know, we want to talk about those places and we want to talk about the things that Tucson has that a lot of places don't have, we have obviously this incredible National Park that's right at our doorstep. We have plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure and we have great weather that a lot of places don't necessarily have right now."

University of Arizona Economist, George Hammond says when tourism slumps it drags down 11 percent of local jobs.

That could mean between 4,000 and 5,000 tourism related jobs lost. Hammond thinks people will be eager to travel again when the pandemic lifts but it's crucial to be sure tourism businesses survive to be ready when tourists return.

"The issue is that we need to support the entrepreneurs and the unemployed individuals, so that you know they can keep their businesses in operation at least some level, and so that people can, can you know have the income that they need to pay rent buy groceries and keep their lives together until we get to the other side of the pandemic," Hammond said.

This is the second year the main Tucson Gem and Mineral show has been canceled. COVID-19 also caused organizers to cancel the 4th avenue street fair, and El Tour De Tucson.