Gold show mania hits fever pitch
2/24/2012 4:03 PM
GPAA reaches out to more members with 20 shows
By BRAD JONES
GPAA Editor/ Content Director
With three Gold & Treasure Shows down, four to go in March and 13 more shows set for the rest of this year, the GPAA’s gold show crews are once again all revved up and ready to roll.
The show in Mesa, Ariz. was a phenomenal success on all levels — record attendance of 2,921, vendor participation, wide variety of displays — including gold, gems and other finds, such as relics and historical artifacts and products — as well as more mining and prospecting equipment.
Besides these improvements, this year’s shows are better organized, said GPAA Director of Operations Dominic Ricci.
Ultimately, showgoers are learning more about gold prospecting and having more fun.
“We had 150 brand new members come and join the GPAA. We saw younger people and kids. To me, that’s the beauty of it — seeing all these kids wanting to join,” said GPAA Director of Operations Dominic Ricci said.
“We had numerous people sign up for Alaska, because they know it is filling up fast this year,” he said.
And, of course, more avid GPAA members joined the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association.
“There were panning contests and mucking contests, but you had local chapters out there teaching people how to pan,” he said.
The new GPAA merchandise is as good as ... well, gold, Ricci said, and popular among showgoers.
“Our new “Property of GPAA” and “Property of LDMA” were selling like hotcakes and we trotted out our new 11-inch pan, the Gold Catcher II, so they really loved that.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Although there was a smaller crowd in Albuquerque, the participants were excited to see the Gold & Treasure show return following a seven-year absence in New Mexico.
Still, more than 1,285 people attended the Albuquerque show.
“They were so happy to have us there,” Ricci said, adding that the GPAA unveiled its yet-to-be named gold scoop.
“It’s our GPAA prospecting scoop with a whole new look. It has teeth; it scrapes and people were excited about that. There are a lot of people who love to metal detect in New Mexico. They loved the scoop as well as the Gold Catcher II pan and the apparel we had,” he said.
And, vendors were happy to report heavy traffic and brisk sales.
One of the vendors, Travis Brown of Pro Gold Prospecting bought about 50 raffle tickets from Public Lands for the People and was including free raffle tickets for his new customers at the show.
“Showgoers loved it because they were winning prizes left and right,” Ricci said.
“It was helping PLP and supporting land rights. That started other vendors running over to the PLP booth to do the same thing — knowing that money goes to a good cause,” he said.
At the end of the weekend, the show in Albuquerque proved to be a great success with lots of smiles left on the faces of attendees.
“It tells us that we need to go back to Albuquerque and not wait seven years,” Ricci said.
Gold Fever host Tom Massie and his wife, Cindy, were both at the Mesa show, mingling with fans and autographing gold pans, photos and other merchandise.
Kia Massie, who is often featured on Gold Fever with Tom, attended the show in Albuquerque and signed her fair share of merchandise as well.
“She’s very popular among Gold Fever fans,” Ricci said, adding fans were coming to her in droves with hats and pans to autograph.”
Though still a little road-weary, “I’m ecstatic,” Ricci said, adding that momentum and excitement are building for the March shows and Las Vegas.
This year, attendees will notice more people from GPAA’s headquarters, in Temecula, Calif. will be at the shows, Ricci said.
“We want more of the staff meeting the members and seeing what goes on the at the Gold & Treasure Shows. It’s an opportunity for James Smoltz in the shipping department and Young Choe in inventory control to get out to meet the members; they get excited about it. It’s not just another gold show; they are actually part of it and on the road with the Gold & Treasure Show crew. It’s a whole new perspective,” Ricci said.
“To me, it’s about bringing the office family out to meet the rest of the family — our members,” he said.
The Ides of March
The age-old saying that March either comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb or comes in like a lamb and leaves like a lion may hold true for the weather — but not for this year’s Gold & Treasure Shows.
The month of March will be nothing but a lion with four shows planned.
Red Bluff, California
“We’ll be just north of Sacramento and we are expecting it to be a fabulous show,” he said.
“It’s our first time going to Red Bluff, but we were in Redding, which is only 20 miles away last year, so we are absolutely expecting to see many of the same who participants at this year’s show central California,” he said.
“We have a new local GPAA chapter that was formed in Redding whose members will be at the show and we have local chapters coming from the Bay area — San Francisco,” said Ricci, who hails from that area.
From Red Bluff, the GPAA Gold & Treasure Show crew, moves northward up the West Coast to Puyallyup, Wash., which has been successful year after year.
“Puyallup is always a fun show and just buzzing with energy, not just from showgoers, but vendors, too,” he said.
From Washington state, the GPAA trucks will roll southward to Salem, Ore.
“There is a lot of local support for the GPAA in Salem and, of course, the entire state of Oregon is a hotbed for prospecting and the small-scale mining community,” Ricci said.
Following Salem, the GPAA gold show truck will roll back down Fresno, Calif. There was a show in Fresno two years ago and members really missed not having the GPAA there last year, Ricci said.
“Everybody wants us to come to their city or town. I wish we could be everywhere at the same time,” he said.
“Fresno looks promising and there is a lot of gold prospecting clubs in that area.”
Las Vegas, Nevada
After Fresno, the Gold & Treasure Show in Fabulous Las Vegas is always, well ... fabulous, not just because of the magnitude of the show itself and the wonderful locale, but because it coincides with other annual GPAA and Lost Dutchman’s MiningAssociation events.
Here’s what’s happening in Vegas this April:
- GPAA Chapter Summit
- LDMA Dinner LDMA
- Caretakers Summit
- Vendor Appreciation Dinner
“It’s just going to be better than ever,” Ricci said.
This year the Vegas show, like the first shows of this year, is noticeably more organized and better structured, not only for the large number of vendors but for attendees, he said.
With an increased emphasis on teaching people how to find gold, attendees are leaving the shows with a better understanding of what gold prospecting is all about.
“Showgoers are seeing a greater selection of booths and merchandise and the vendors are taking on a more active role in teaching people how to prospect for gold, gems and buried treasure,” Ricci said.
“In Albuquerque, we had a doctor who was showing people how to extract minerals out of glass,” Ricci said. “Can you believe that with today’s gold prices you can extract as much as $170 from a beer bottle?
“You have people like Rob Goreham of 49er Mining Supplies teaching about basic prospecting and Paul Clark teaching how to prospect in the desert. They are filling up the lecture halls,” he said.
GPAA Chapters & Tradeshow Manager Gary Sturgill, said newcomers to the world of prospecting will come away from the shows with a lot more knowledge and a probably even a little gold fever.
“If you know nothing, you’ll be educated by the time you leave if you take advantage of what we have to offer,” Sturgill said.
“You should definitely have a good idea how to find gold. And, one thing we always tell new members is that they should join a local GPAA chapter in their area. It’s free to join a chapter and they’re going to take you under their wing show you where to go and how to do it,” he said.
Vendors booked solid
Much if not all of the vendor space for many of the spring Gold & Treasure shows has been sold out, Sturgill said.
“Red Bluff, Puyallup, Salem, Fresno and Vegas are all sold out — wall to wall and front to back,” Sturgill said. “It should definitely make for some good shows.”
Vendors have seen improvements made to the show this year and are all jumping on board, Sturgill said.
Members are happy
As far as what showgoers are saying at the show, the five words that Sturgill hears most often are ‘Where do I sign up?’, he said.
Sturgill attributes at least some of the high attendance figures at the shows to record-high gold-prices, but it’s more than that, he said.
“They like the new Pick & Shovel [Gazette] and they say it just keeps getting better and better every issue, they like what’s going on with Gold Prospectors Magazine; it’s more interesting and informative. And, they really like the new Alaskan series,” he said.
As far as Gold Fever, the most common questions from fans is ‘When is Tom coming to shoot a show near us?’, Sturgill said.
“This country is big, so he’ll get there eventually is what I tell ’em.”
Overall, GPAA and LDMA members are glad they attended the shows, Sturgill said.
“Those who come out to the shows like what we’re doing. They like the new presentation of the show and the new booth setup. They like that the hall s is packed with vendors, displays and products. Their is no dead space and the vendors are happy because they are selling products and equipment,” he said.
Free admittance for showgoers who pre-register online has also been popular and another reason why attendance at the shows has skyrocketed, Sturgill said.
“At Mesa we had more than 1,000 pre-registered attendees,” he said.
To pre-register for GPAA Gold & Treasure shows go to:
Future gold shows
“At the shows, I’ve got a lot more people coming up to me and asking us to come to where they’re at because they’re driving so far to get to the shows; they’re giving me information about the hall, how to contact the hall and that’s a good thing,” Sturgill said.
“If they really want a show in their area, find a place that has a minimum area of 20,000 sq.-ft and costs less than $6,000 for the weekend and I’ll look into it,” he said.
Brad Jones is the Editor / Content Director for Gold Prospectors Association of America, the Pick & Shovel Gazette and Gold Prospectors Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com