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FARMINGTON — Over the past three decades, the San Juan County Gem & Mineral Show has been a highlight of the Fourth of July weekend here.

This year was no exception as crowds packed the Farmington Civic Center today to view collections of rocks, gems and jewelry, and to purchase items from vendors who came from as far away as Mexico.

"There's sort of an underground enthusiasm for rocks that everyone possesses," said Tory Bonner, the show coordinator.

Bill Calvert, a member of the San Juan County Gem & Mineral Society, brought some rocks painted by Robert Evans, a longtime vendor at the show who died a few months ago.

"He'd sit out there and paint and talk," Calvert recalled.

Calvert said Evans received advice from another painter when he first started the paintings. The advice he received was: "If you're going to paint buildings, you've got to see how they're built."

Afterward, Evans packed his bags and began touring the country. Whenever he saw old, dilapidated buildings, he would examine them and try to learn about them. Then he would paint the buildings on rocks. Each year, Calvert would bring Evans a new rock to paint.

Many people paused today to examine the tiny images of farm buildings painted on the rocks.

Another booth that drew the attention of many visitors was Patsy and Jim Williamson's jewelry booth. The vendors from Santa Fe were selling custom-made jewelry and would even make jewelry for customers on the spot. The Williamsons have been attending the show for four years.

"We get to meet a lot of nice people," Patsy Williamson said as she helped a customer choose a style for earrings that Jim Williamson would later make.

The couple will be showing their work in Durango, Colo., next weekend at the Four Corners Gem and Mineral Show, she said.

"We don't have a shop," she said. "We just do this on weekends."

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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