By Antoinette Rahn
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Forsyth Gem & Mineral Club, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
As history reveals, the club was the product of the merging of two separate clubs, the Forsyth Mineral Club and the Winston-Salem Gem Club. The reason for the merger is unknown, but for the current membership, the why isn’t as important as the decision to unite into one club, which continues to serve the community today.
Not unlike the club itself, one of the key aspects of the club, the annual show, had humble beginnings, explained long-time club member Ken Reed. The show was first held in the “cattle barn” of the local Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. During that first show, most of the “dealers” were actually club members who had excess items to sell, Reed explained. Among the true “dealers” at the show was Jay Wescott of Wescott Trading Company, who actually fronted the funds needed to host the initial show.
“Word soon spread that ours was a friendly club and a new show with potential,” Reed said. “Our show has grown over the years to the current annual event, which brings 28 dealers from across the country, presents 35-40 exhibit cases, a geode cutting operation, grab-bag sales with identification assistance, plus a learning center with information and demonstrations.”
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the club’s show. The show will be held Sept. 10-12, 2021, at the Education Building of the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, which is across the facility from the site of the original show. The theme for this year’s show is North Carolina Minerals and Gold.
Special events planned for the show include:
• Reed Gold Mine Historical Site – the site of the first major gold discovery in North America)
• Geologist Alex Glover will discuss “Spruce Pine Mining District.”
• Geologist Jim Stroud will discuss “Commercial Minerals of North Carolina, Past, Present
• Zoom presentation by the North Carolina Museum of Natural History – revealing a selection of the museum’s best minerals and background about local mines.
In addition to the annual show, the club meets regularly on the third Thursday of each month, January through July, and October through November. The club meets at the Vulcan Materials Company facility, and over the years, the club members have helped with specimen acquisition and displays for the Joseph Andres Gutierrez Geology & Earth Science Museum and Education Center, located on the company’s grounds.
Presently, the club is also in the process of establishing two scholarships in conjunction with the local Sawtooth Center for Visual Art, Reed explained.
“This facility provides studios, equipment, and instructors in many arts, including cabbing, faceting and metal (jewelry) work. Several members of our club, including our current Club President Charles Whicker, have served/are serving as instructors for these classes,” Reed stated. “The scholarships are being established to honor the contributions of two very talented founding members; Paul Burton, who served as our Show Chairman for many years; and Richard “Dick” Hartz, a long-serving officer of the club; both deceased.”
Looking back at the many years of memories, shows, experiences, field trips, volunteering, and many more adventures enjoyed by Forsyth Gem & Mineral Club members, there’s no question of the important role clubs play.
“In our current environment of internet shopping, mail order, and virtual activities, many think it unnecessary to join clubs,” Reed said. “It is true that you can collect, visit museums virtually, and see many interesting hobby-related posts on the internet. However, the personal interaction and friendships built by being a club member are irreplaceable. We meet people from many walks of life, are able to help others, and receive help as well. The people we meet influence us by the actions we observe.”
To learn more about the club, visit https://forsythgemclub.com.