Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Fall Festival of Gems coming Oct. 9

FALLBROOK – Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society (FGMS) invites everyone interested in geology, minerals, fossils, gemstones, meteorites, lapidary arts and jewelry to attend its 20th annual Fall Festival of Gems on Sunday, Oct. 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event will showcase the activities of the all-volunteer, non-profit, educational organization founded in 1957, while paying homage to the North County’s rich mining history that is still active. A fun, free, family event, the Fall Festival of Gems promotes earth sciences, from street vendors selling mineral and fossil specimens, gemstones, lapidary items and jewelry on Alvarado Street (Main to Pico), to related activities and demonstrations inside the FGMS building at 123 W. Alvarado St.

On the street, FGMS members will man booths selling reasonably priced minerals, slabs for lapidary projects and cracked geodes. The always popular FGMS “Wheel of Fortune” will also give everyone a chance to win great earth science prizes for a small fee.

FGMS members will assist kids of all ages to test their skills at free mineral panning stations, hopefully without getting too wet. And for those who have ever wondered how mineral spheres (“giant marbles”) are made, a fascinating demonstration will be ongoing!

For those who have always wondered what goes on in the white Spanish style building on Alvarado, across from the parking lot between the Fallbrook Library and The Art Center, here’s an opportunity to come and check it out! Originally constructed in 1941, it was Fallbrook’s original telephone exchange.

Today it houses the FGMS office, the Peter Bancroft Library, a lapidary workshop, an auditorium, and a free mineral museum with a gift shop inside. During the Fall Festival of Gems, the office, auditorium, museum and gift shop will be open to the public. In the auditorium, all kinds of treasures will be offered at silent auctions throughout the day, along with 2016 San Diego County Fair award-winning exhibits by the FGMS lapidary students and FGMS member and renowned gem artist, Meg Berry, mineral displays and a special FGMS display of historic mining lamps.

For those interested in learning how gems are cut, FGMS member, Mike Steinsnyder, will demonstrate his faceting hobby. Visitors are encouraged to bring unknown minerals and gems to the free gem id service that will be provided by trained gemologists in the auditorium.

FGMS maintains a small, yet quite extensive free mineral museum that has received numerous accolades from mineralogical experts for its collection of San Diego County, as well as Fallbrook specific minerals, along with California, USA and worldwide specimens.

The museum also has a display of fossils, including a museum quality replica of a mastodon skull and tusks, a nod to fossilized mastodon remains once found in 1914 on the grounds of the Hotel Ellis that once stood on what is now the Fallbrook Public Library parking lot!

FGMS member docents will guide visitors around the displays and answer questions.

Of special interest will be the newly refurbished fluorescent mineral room in the museum. Thanks to a 2015 San Diego County TOT grant, FGMS was able to replace old tile and carpet, paint the walls, including black paint on the walls and ceiling of the fluorescent mineral room, and also upgrade electrical and lighting features. The Fall Festival of Gems will be a soft re-opening of the fluorescent mineral display, with a grand re-opening scheduled in the near future.

There is also a gift shop inside the museum offering all sorts of earth science goodies…mineral and fossil specimens, earth science books, unique mineral/fossil decorator items, children’s novelty science items and natural mineral and gemstone jewelry. All items are reasonably priced and include sales tax. Many of the beaded earrings and necklaces have been handcrafted by the FGMS “Beading Brigade”.

Fossil and various location-specific mineral grab bags, a children’s favorite for decades, are a staple item since they were started by the late Josephine Scripps, of the famous Scripps family, who was a renowned mineral collector and FGMS member.

During the festival, special “opportunity drawings” will take place hourly at the FGMS main booth on Alvarado Street, in front of the FGMS building. Tickets will cost $1 each for chances to win items donated by the attending vendors. Drawings will begin at 10 a.m. and continue hourly until 3 p.m.

The highlight of the Fall Festival of Gems is always the giant

raffle drawing at 4 p.m. at the FGMS main booth on Alvarado Street. This year numerous fabulous prizes are being offered, including a 1.75 ct. rubellite (“hot pink”) tourmaline ring from the Cryo Genie Mine (Pala district) mounted in 14kt white gold, a Meg Berry carved labradorite and pearl necklace, a large white quartz Brazilian geode and a spectacular kelly green fluorite specimen from the Rogerley Mine in England that fluoresces bright blue!

Also offered are a 1911 $5 U.S. gold coin, a large Moroccan fossil plate, a carved fluorite elephant, a large polished banded agate and a San Diego County tourmaline specimen. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20. Winners need not be present to win. Tickets will be sold throughout the day at the main FGMS booth, or can be purchased beforehand at the FGMS gift shop on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

And to keep everyone hydrated and energized throughout the day, the Fallbrook Kiwanis Key Club booth will provide tasty hamburgers, hot dogs, drinks and other snacks. Tables, chairs and umbrellas will be provided for visitors to sit and enjoy a bite to eat or rest between shopping, spinning the wheel of fortune, watching demonstrations, bidding at the silent auctions, getting a gemstone identified or panning for minerals.

All members of the Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society look forward to welcoming the community to its 20th annual Fall Festival of Gems to discover the amazing world of gems and minerals, where there’s something for everyone! Admission and parking are free.

For inquiries call (760) 728-1130 or email [email protected]. visit


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