WEEKEND: Port Angeles rock, gem show appeals to treasure hunter in us all
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Cindy Kochanek, organizer of the fourth annual Rock, Gem and Jewelry Show sponsored by the Port Angeles Parks and Recreation Department this weekend, shows off the 60-pound agate she found in Oregon.
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Half of a giant agate — found by Cindy Kochanek and cut and polished by her husband, Mark — will be on display at this weekend’s rock show in Port Angeles.

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — It's not just a show; it's a treasure hunt.

The fourth annual Rock, Gem and Jewelry Show, sponsored by the city Parks and Recreation Department, will display and sell some of the Earth's most colorful bounty in the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The emphasis of the two-day free show which opened Saturday is on do-it-yourself rock-hounding.

“We try to get families and kids interested in going out and going rock-hounding,” said Cindy Kochanek, herself a rock hound who has volunteered for the last four years to organize the show.

The show, which charges vendors but not those who attend, benefits youth and family programs of the city Parks and Recreation Department, where Kochanek's day job is as city administrative assistant and cemetery manager.

To especially involve children, free rocks, necklaces and bracelets will be given to youngsters by volunteers from the city for as long as supplies last.

“It's so fun to see the little kids' faces,” Kochanek said.

“They just light up.”

Many of the 41 vendors at the show will give out free rocks and bring items for children, Kochanek said.

John Corinish, a Port Angeles mineral expert, will brings geodes to buy and crack open to see what mysteries lie within.

Fluorite crystals, garnets and pyrite crystals are among the treasures that can be found inside geodes, said Kochanek, who is looking forward to opening more of them this weekend.

“It's like Christmas,” she said.

Ethiopian opal necklace

An Ethiopian opal necklace appraised at $350 and donated by Port Angeles jeweler Michael Smith will be given away as a free door prize in a raffle just before the show closes Sunday.

Everyone who attends the show over the two days will get a ticket, and the winner doesn't have to be present at the drawing.

Mike Pimentel of Eclipse Minerals will display a 212-pound piece of natural splash copper.

“If you splash water on the sidewalk, it forms a splatter. That happens naturally in the earth,” Kochanek said.

Kochanek and her husband, Mark, will exhibit half of a 60-pound agate piece that she discovered in a rock-hounding trip in Oregon and that he cut and polished.

Reluctant to share directions to their “secret place” for agates and other finds, Kochanek did describe the journey to get there, saying vegetation is so thick “you cannot literally see a foot in front of your face” and that travelers can sink up to their waists in mud.

Takes dedication

Only the most dedicated rock hounds would return to such an area. The Kochaneks have been there several times.

They got started 15 years ago when the couple, now married 36 years, decided to celebrate their wedding anniversary by digging sapphires in Montana.

Now, the two travel through Washington, Oregon, Idaho and other states seeking rock treasures.

“It's just a hobby gone bad,” she laughed.

Kochanek said local beach-combing can turn up fossils and agates but that the best rock-hounding tends to be elsewhere in the state or in Oregon and Idaho.

At this weekend's show, “we have vendors who do the same thing that we do: dig their own rocks and do something with them,” Kochanek said.

“Most of people in the show actually go out and get their own rocks.”

Although there won't be demonstrations of lapidary arts, vendors will offer a lot of information, Kochanek said.

“They like to engage people in coming to the show and getting them involved,” she said.

“You can learn how to go looking for agates, jasper, petrified wood, thunder eggs, fossils, crystals, obsidian and much more,” she said.

“You can bring the whole family and learn more about rock-hounding and how to find your own secret treasure.”

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 22. 2014 9:48PM
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