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Tucson restaurants prepare for Gem Show's big weekend

Local eateries are among the businesses that see direct economic benefit from the annual show
Posted: 11:53 AM, Feb 10, 2023
Updated: 2023-02-10 16:11:33-05
More than 40 Gem and Mineral Shows kick off this weekend

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The biggest weekend of Tucson's annual Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase is now underway, as the Tucson Convention Center opens its doors to tourists and community members.

While the annual show started in January, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, now in its 68th year, is considered the marquee event in the nearly month-long showcase. It's also credited at the show that started it all, back in 1955.

The most recent study in 2019 by FMR Associates estimates the Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase brings in $131 million in direct economic impact to the Tucson region.

Visit Tucson says around $13 million in local sales tax alone is collected during the total run of the Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase.

"I think they sell around 14,000 temporary sales tax vendors permits. So that tells you how many dealers there are in Tucson," said Peter Megaw of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society,

RELATED: How the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show grew into the world's largest

Restaurants are among the businesses that feel the impact of the show each year.

"Aww, it's great. We love having the gem show in town," said Carolos Aponte, manager of Obon Sushi in downtown Tucson. "We get a lot of them that come back even multiple times during the week. People will come in and in a couple of nights they're back for more sushi and ramen."

At Bata, another downtown restaurant, chef and owner Tyler Fenton says his restaurant is anticipating the bigger crowds.

"It's that time of year where everyone, you know it's coming, feel it coming, and it's exciting to be busy and full," said Fenton. "But it's also one of those things that when it's done you're like kind of breath a sigh of relief."

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the Tucson Gem, Mineral, Fossil Showcase 2023

Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.