Festivals on the Go

From scenic drives and shopping to seasonal festivals and fun-filled events, the US Sunbelt has become a major attraction for snowbirds—and the season is now in full swing.

Mardi Gras celebrations and parades in New Orleans, Mobile, and in communities from Galveston, Texas, to Pensacola, Florida, January 31-February 17
Mardi Gras celebrations and parades in New Orleans, Mobile, and in communities from Galveston, Texas, to Pensacola, Florida, January 31-February 17

Various snowbird communities play host to their winter visitors with a variety of activities including annual festivals, state/provincial club meetings, day trips, fundraisers, golfing, pickleball tournaments, and volunteering.

The winter months offer all types of entertainment from symphonies to theatre, Jazz and Dixieland to Country and Folk, you name it. Festivals, parades, and art exhibits are aplenty.

Take advantage of some of the celebrations, parades, and other special activities held near your snowbird roost. Whether you’re a foodie or sports nut, you’ll find a gathering or event that will highlight your stay.

This is prime season for local festivals and annual events celebrating history and culture.

Major 2015 celebrations, festivals, and fairs in the Sunbelt include:

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show, Quartzsite, Arizona, January 2-11

The Main Event, Quartzsite, Arizona, January 5-25

Gathering of the Gunfighters, Yuma, January 10-11

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama, Quartzsite, Arizona, January 18-25

Chocolate Affaire, Glendale, Arizona, January 30-31

Texas Citrus Fiesta, Mission, Texas, January 31

Mardi Gras celebrations and parades in New Orleans, Mobile, and in communities from Galveston, Texas, to Pensacola, Florida, January 31-February 17

The Main Event, Quartzsite, Arizona, January 5-25
The Main Event, Quartzsite, Arizona, January 5-25

Tubac Festival of the Arts, Tubac, Arizona, February 4-8

Florida State Fair, Tampa, February 5-16

Lake Havasu Winterfest, Lake Havasu City, Arizona, February 7-8

Arizona Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace, Apache Junction, weekends February 7-March 29

Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, Tucson, Arizona, February 12-15

QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show, Quartzsite, February 13-15

Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival, Indio, California, February 13-22

Daytona 500, Daytona Beach, Florida, February 22

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo), Tucson, Arizona, February 21-March 1

Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, February 26-March 8

Charro Days Fiesta, Brownsville, Texas, February 26-March 8

Yuma Lettuce Days, Yuma, Arizona, February 28-March 1
Yuma Lettuce Days, Yuma, Arizona, February 28-March 1

Yuma Lettuce Days, Yuma, Arizona, February 28-March 1

Sanibel Shell Show, Sanibel Island, Florida, March 3-7

Fulton Oysterfest, Fulton, Texas, March 5-8

Chandler Ostrich Festival, Chandler, Arizona, March 13-15

Dunedin Highland Games & Festival, Dunedin, Florida, March 28

Worth Pondering…

Oh, what a beautiful morning’,

Oh, what a beautiful day.

I got a beautiful feelin’

Ev’rything’s goin’ my way.

Oh, what a beautiful day!

—“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from the musical Oklahoma

The weather and setting for seasonal festivals and fun-filled events  are bound to befit Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous lyrics.

Read More

2015 Quartzsite Show Dates Announced

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 17 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10.

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite for protection against Indian raids and to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite was established in 1867 and incorporated in 1989. A rock hunter’s paradise surrounds Quartzsite with agates, limonite cubes, gold, and quartz being just a few. Named Quartzite because quartz was occasionally found in the area, the name evolved to Quartzsite through an error in spelling.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million and a half visitors each winter who converge on this sleepy desert town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.
Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In town, the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. To the south rise the Kofa Mountains. Historic and scenic areas include the Spanish Wall, Crystal Hill, Tyson Tanks, and Tyson Wells Museum. South in the Kofa Mountains is Palm Canyon, a tight gorge and home of Arizona’s only native palms, reached by a steep but rewarding climb. Farther south is Castle Dome Peak.

Tyson Wells Show History

Tyson Wells began with an open lot where an RV Park was developed; the Sell-A-Rama Show started in 1978.

Soon Tyson Wells became known as a leading Rock & Gem Show in the United States. Later, additional land was acquired for more parking, and two more shows—Rock & Gem Show and Art & Craft Fair—were added.

the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert.
the Hi Jolly Monument honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park.

The Quartzsite Shows

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

The Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show attracts rock, gem, and mineral vendors from around the world and runs for 10 days in early January.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show are January 2-11, 2015.

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

The Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama show occurs in late January and also runs for 10 days. The Sell-A-Rama has over 850 vendor spaces which equals roughly 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. You can find just about anything at this 25-acre show.

Dates for the 37th Annual Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama are January 18 – 25, 2015.

Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair

The indoor Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair takes place early February each year. One can find arts, crafts, hobbies supplies, jewelry, and lapidary supplies.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Arts & Crafts Fair are January 30-February 8, 2015

2015 Quartzsite Show Dates

You won’t want to miss the 2015 Quartzsite Shows!

January 1-February 28, 2015: The Desert Gardens Gem, Rocks & Mineral Show

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!
This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

January 2-January 11, 2015: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

January 2-January 14, 2015: Prospectors Panorama

January 5-January 25, 2015: The Main Event

January 16-January 18, 2015: Blythe Bluegrass Festival

January 18-January 25, 2015: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

January 17-January 25, 2015: Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

January 21-January 25, 2015: QIA Pow Wow Gem & Mineral Show

January 30-February 8, 2015: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair

February 6-February 7, 2015: Quartzsite Quilt Show

February 13- February 15, 2015: Desert Bloom ATV Rally

February 13-February15, 2015: QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Quartzsite Introduces New Trolley Service

The Town of Quartzsite is now offering a trolley service that connects the Quartzsite Town Park with various destinations within Quartzsite, including Main Street, Main Event, and special event sites along Kuehn Road and the La Posa Campground.

Quartzsite Town Council and employees cutting the ribbon December 18 welcoming new trolley service. (Credit: Joanne Winer/paloverdevalleytimes.com)
Quartzsite Town Council and employees cutting the ribbon December 18 welcoming new trolley service. (Credit: Joanne Winer/paloverdevalleytimes.com)

The route allows for stops along the way with the option of three park and ride areas for riders’ convenience.

This new demonstration service is provided seven days a week.

The Western Arizona town hopes this service will provide a viable alternative for RVing snowbirds and other visitors to driving their own vehicle.

In addition to avoiding the bumper-to-bumper traffic during the peak of the season, the Quartzsite Trolley also provides a much-needed service to those who cannot drive or who want to avoid the stress of searching for an available parking space at the swap meets, rock and gem shows, and businesses around town.

The trolley service is made possible through an agreement between the town and Parking Concepts, a Yuma-based company that provides similar services in Yuma and Blythe, California.

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The daily route starts at Town Park (North Plymouth Road) and travels down U.S. Highway 95 South to Main Street, then to Quartzsite Boulevard (Main Event), across the bridge to Kuehn Boulevard (frontage road), along Kuehn to U.S. Highway 95 South, to BLM LTVA La Posa North camping areas, then again along Kuehn to Riggles and Main Street, and back to the Town Park. The ride for the entire route takes about 45 minutes.

The trolley operates daily from 8:20 a.m.-5:20 p.m. with no service from 12:50-1:35 p.m.

There are trolley stop signs along the route, and people are urged to park and ride when possible. The trolley has 20 seats with room for two wheelchairs, plus standing for up to 30 people. It also has two bicycle racks.

Fares are paid for each one-way trip. The general fare for riding the trolley is $2 per person one-way, or $5 for a hop-off, hop-on day pass. A seasonal pass is available for $75.
Trolley operators only accept cash. No round trip fares are allowed. Fares are subject to change and exact fare is required. No change is given.

Children under 5 ride free—up to four children. Fifth and more children pay discount fare.

Trolley Season Passes are on sale at Quartzsite Town Hall or Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce or can be purchased through the mail, by sending a check or money order (payable to Town of Quartzsite) and the number of passes requested to Town of Quartzsite—Trolley, 465 N. Plymouth Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346; phone (928) 927-4333.

Trolley operates seven days a week until Sunday, February 2, 2014.

logoThe service expects to pay for the cost with ridership fees and advertising fees that will help make up the cost to the town until February 2, when there will be an assessment of the service to see if it is feasible to extend it longer.

For more information about the trolley or the route, please call Jan Collier at Town Hall, 928-927-4333.

Please Note: Previous postings on Quartzsite 2014 include:

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

The World’s Largest Parking Lot

Every winter, hundreds of thousands of snowbirds with RVs descend on the tiny desert town of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a few months, this dusty little place on I-10 morphs into what National Geographic calls The World’s Largest Parking Lot.

Quartzsite is famous for its seasonal swap meets, huge flea market, rock and gem shows, the Big Tent RV show, and numerous other gatherings.

When you come over the hills into the valley, it’s like a sea of white out there from the RVs parked all over the desert.

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tens of thousands from all over the United States and Canada winter here in one of the RV parks or on the vast areas of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) desert areas.

The BLM offers two ways to boondock in the Quartzsite area:

  • 14 day free pass on that designated land
  • Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) just south of town

But, just where is this gem of a town?

Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

This sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite is located just 20 miles east of the California border (Colorado River) on Interstate 10.

The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) recently announced the launch of a new website designed to keep RVers wintering in the Sonora Desert up-to-date about the various activities taking place in the Quartzsite area.

The new website, QIA Arizona, is the headquarters for the Pow Wow Rock & Gem Show and other community events throughout the winter snowbird season.

2014 QIA sponsored events include:

  • January 22-January 26, 2014: QIA Pow Wow
  • February 14-February 16, 2014: QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show
  • March 6-9, 2014:  Grand Gathering

grandgatheringOther activities at the QIA include bingo (Friday nights), dances (Saturday nights and a few others), shows and concerts, craft fairs (first Saturday of each month), pancake suppers (Wednesdays), and just good old fashion fun.

One of the events being promoted this winter is the 2014 Grand Gathering March 6 to 9 which organizers hope will become the world’s largest gathering of grandparents in one area.

“With more than 60 RV parks and 11,000 acres of BLM dispersed camping in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, Quartzsite is ATV friendly and a rock hounder’s paradise,” said Bernie Martin, a member of the all-volunteer Quartzsite Improvement Association.

Please Note: Previous postings on Quartzsite 2014 Show Dates include:

Details

Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA)

Address: 235 E. Ironwood Street, PO Box 881, Quartzsite, AZ 85346

Phone: (928) 927-6325

Website: qiaarizona.org

Worth Pondering… 

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

Read More

2014 Quartzsite Show Dates Announced

What is Quartzsite?

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Tyson Wells Show History

Tyson Wells began with an open lot where an RV Park was developed; the Sell-A-Rama Show started in 1978.

Soon Tyson Wells became known as a leading Rock & Gem Show in the United States. Later, additional land was acquired for more parking, and two more shows—Rock & Gem Show and Art & Craft Fair—were added.

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park.

The Quartzsite Shows

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

The Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show attracts rock, gem, and mineral vendors from around the world and runs for 10 days in early January.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show are January 3-12, 2014.

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

The Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama show occurs in late January and also runs for 10 days. The Sell-A-Rama has over 850 vendor spaces which equals roughly 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. You can find just about anything at this 25-acre show.

Dates for the 36th Annual Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama are January 17-26, 2014

Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair

The indoor Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair takes place early February each year. One can find arts, crafts, hobbies supplies, jewelry, and lapidary supplies.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Arts & Crafts Fair are January 31-February 9, 2014.

2014 Quartzsite Show Dates

You won’t want to miss the 2014 Quartzsite Shows!

January 1-February 28, 2014: The Desert Gardens Gem, Rocks & Mineral Show

January 3-January 12, 2014: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

January 6-January 26, 2014: The Main Event

January 10-January 11, 2014: Quartzsite Art Guild Art Show

January 17-January 19, 2014: Blythe Bluegrass Festival

January 17-January 26, 2014: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

January 18-January 26, 2014: Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

January 22-January 26, 2014: QIA Pow Wow

January 31-February 9, 2014: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair

February 6, 2014: Quartzsite Flyers RC Fly-in

February 14-February 15, 2014: Quartzsite Quilt Show

February 14- February 16, 2014: Desert Bloom ATV Rally

February 14-February16, 2014: QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show

TBA: Balloon Festival, Chili Cook-Off & Camel Rides

Canceled: Quartzsite Hobby Craft & Gem Show

Canceled: Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

Quartzsite swap meet map
Quartzsite swap meet map

Please Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2014 Show Dates

Part 1: 2014 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering… 

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

Read More

2014 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show Dates Announced

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it!

quartzsiteAccording to the Arizona Highway Department, as many as 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly in recreational vehicles, converge on the sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem, and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show.

“If you’re looking for anything related to RVs, you’ll find it at the RV show in Quartzsite,” says Kenny King, show promoter.

There will be several hundred new and used RVs on display in 2014 and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs, and service on many of the items that will be exhibited at the show.

This phenomenon started over 30 years ago and is now billed as “The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World”.

The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened January 28, 1984 at the corner of Highway 95 (now Central) and Business 10 (now Main Street) in Quartzsite, Arizona. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the “new show in town” was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite were RVers.

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1987 the show, now re-named the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, moved up the street to the Quartzsite Trailer Park which was situated directly across from the major attraction in town, the Quartzsite Pow Wow (the first Pow Wow was held in 1967).

This new home for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show lasted 10 years until the show grew to a point that the current 3.5-acre show site could barely hold the number of exhibitors that were now vying for exhibit space at this popular annual event.

In 1997 the “BIG TENT”, as the show had become known, moved across the freeway to its present home, a new 20-acre facility, ½-mile south of I-10 on Highway 95 (now 700 South Central).

With the new Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show grounds, the popular event was able to provide over 15 acres of public FREE parking.

Dates for the 31st Annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 18-26, 2014, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

FREE parking! FREE admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

Estimated attendance 150,000 plus!

69,000 square feet, fully carpeted indoor exhibit area.

Canceled: Quartzsite Hobby Craft & Gem Show & Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

In 1997, a second show—Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show—was added. The new show, while on a much smaller scale than the giant RV show, grew to include a Rock & Roll Classic.

It was recently announced that the 17th Annual Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show and the 16th Annual Quartzsite Rock & Roll Classic Car Shows, that ran concurrently, have been canceled.

Promoter Kenny King stated that after the economic slump in 2008, attendance and participation had been in decline and the decision was made to eliminate the shows as of 2014.

King also said that they are looking for new ideas for an additional new show that may spark more interest in people staying over after the big RV Show closes and would even consider co-promoting or leasing their show facility to another promoter.

Quartzsite.visitor.guide.coverOK, but what’s so great about Quartzsite?

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Just where is this gem of a town? Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

Please Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2014 Show Dates

Part 2: 2014 Quartzsite Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Quartzsite: Front Page Focus of National Media…for All the Wrong Reasons

It’s not the first time the desert town of Quartzsite off Interstate 10 in western Arizona, has been the focus of national news reports—and it undoubtedly won’t be the last.

Quartzsite in the national media

But this may be the only time the dusty community of about 3,500 hits the front page of a newspaper with worldwide circulation.

The USA Today, with a circulation of around 1.8 million copies daily, is beaten only by the Wall Street Journal (2.1 million), which has also featured Quartzsite on several occasions in the past number of months, reports parkerliveonline.com.

A photograph of Quartzsite’s recently seated mayor, Ed Foster, graces the front cover of the paper, accompanying a story about turbulent local politics around the country and a sub-headline that reads, “The presidential race has nothing [on this].”

The Los Angeles Times, the Arizona Republic, the New York Times, and others have all contributed to the media attention on Quartzsite’s dramatic politics along with local media.

Citizens of Quartzsite wonder why it took over five months for the winning candidate to be seated as the town’s seventh mayor in four years, reports USA Today.

The Quartzsite Town Council caved in to a Writ of Mandamus issued by La Paz County Superior Court Judge Michael Burke and seated the Foster as Mayor. His oath of office was administered by Municipal Court Judge Lawrence C. King. Foster chaired the remainder of the meeting, which included voting Councilman Michael Jewitt in as Vice Mayor.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By court order, the 70-year-old retired engineer was sworn in last week as mayor of Quartzsite, a dusty community of about 3,500 off Interstate 10 in southwest Arizona. He was elected in June, but the Town Council refused to seat him.

Why? Ostensibly because Foster owes the town $2,200 in legal fees.

Why? Because Foster sued unsuccessfully in 2011 to regain the mayor’s seat he’d won the previous year. He lost it in a recall election.

Why? Because he clashed with other local officials, including a police chief who arrested him for allegedly disruptive behavior at a public meeting, reports USA Today.

Why would anyone voluntarily get involved in local politics?

“I have a famous saying,” Foster replies.

“No president has ever done anything for me or done anything against me. But you should pay attention to choosing someone who can tell you whether you can build a shed in your yard.”

Details

Quartzsite 

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10.

In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Quartzsite 2013 Show Dates Announced

What is Quartzsite?

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Tyson Wells Show History

Tyson Wells began with an open lot where an RV Park was developed; the Sell-A-Rama Show started in 1978.

Soon Tyson Wells became known as a leading Rock & Gem Show in the United States. Later, additional land was acquired for more parking, and two more shows—Rock & Gem Show and Art & Craft Fair—were added.

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park.

The Quartzsite Shows

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

The Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show attracts rock, gem, and mineral vendors from around the world and runs for 10 days in early January.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show are January 4-13, 2013.

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

The Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama show occurs in late January and also runs for 10 days. The Sell-A-Rama has over 850 vendor spaces which equals roughly 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. You can find just about anything at this 25-acre show.

Dates for the 35th Annual Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama are January 18-27, 2013

Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair

The indoor Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair takes place early February each year. One can find arts, crafts, hobbies supplies, jewelry, and lapidary supplies.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Arts & Crafts Fair are February 1-10, 2013.

2013 Quartzsite Show Dates

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You won’t want to miss the 2013 Quartzsite Shows!

January 1-February 28, 2013: The Desert Gardens Gem, Rocks & Mineral Show

January 4-January 13, 2013: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

January 7-January 27, 2013: The Main Event

January 18-January 20, 2013: Blythe Bluegrass Festival

January 18-January 27, 2013: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

January 19-January 27, 2013: Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

January 23-January 27, 2013: Q.I.A. Pow Wow

January 30-February 3, 2013: Quartzsite Hobby Craft & Gem Show

February 1-February 19, 2013: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair

February 2-February 3, 2013: Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

February 6- February 9, 2013: Desert Bloom ATV Rally

February 9, 2013: The New Christie Minstrels Show (2 concerts: 2:00 p.m.; 7:00 p.m.)

TBA: Chili Cook-Off & State Salsa Championship

Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2013 Show Dates

Part 1: 2013 Quartzsite RV Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering… Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

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2013 Quartzsite RV Show Dates Announced

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it!

Toy hauler on display at the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the Arizona Highway Department, as many as 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly in recreational vehicles, converge on the sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem, and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show.

“If you’re looking for anything related to RVs, you’ll find it at the RV show in Quartzsite,” says Kenny King, show promoter.

There will be several hundred new and used RVs on display in 2013 and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs, and service on many of the items that will be exhibited at the show.

This phenomenon started over 30 years ago and is now billed as The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World”.

The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened January 28, 1984 at the corner of Highway 95 (now Central) and Business 10 (now Main Street) in Quartzsite, Arizona. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the “new show in town” was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite were RVers.

Heading to the Big Tent at the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1987 the show, now re-named the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, moved up the street to the Quartzsite Trailer Park which was situated directly across from the major attraction in town, the Quartzsite Pow Wow (the first Pow Wow was held in 1967).

This new home for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show lasted 10 years until the show grew to a point that the current 3.5-acre show site could barely hold the number of exhibitors that were now vying for exhibit space at this popular annual event.

In 1997 the “BIG TENT”, as the show had become known, moved across the freeway to its present home, a new 20-acre facility, ½-mile south of I-10 on Highway 95 (now 700 South Central).

With the new Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show grounds, the popular event was able to provide over 15 acres of public FREE parking.

Dates for the 30th Annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 19-27, 2013, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Free parking! Free admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

Estimated attendance 150,000 plus!

69,000 square feet, fully carpeted indoor exhibit area.

Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show

In 1997, a second show was added. The new show, while on a much smaller scale than the giant RV show, has grown and now includes a two-day Rock & Roll Classic Car Show over the weekend of this Wednesday through Sunday, five-day event.

Dates for the 16th Annual Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show are January 30-February 3, 2013, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Free parking! Free admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

Check out some of the Southwest’s finest custom hot rods, street rods, muscle cars, and classics displayed beneath the giant big-top tent during the Rock & Roll Classic Car Show.

Dates for the 15th Annual Quartzsite Rock & Roll Classic Car Show in Quartzsite, Arizona, are February 2-3, 2013, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Free parking! Free admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

OK, but what’s so great about Quartzsite?

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Just where is this gem of a town? Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2012 Show Dates

Part 2: Quartzsite 2013 Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Quartzsite: A Gem in the Desert

So exactly what is Quartzsite?

The World’s Largest Flea Market!

RVers may initially journey to Quartzsite for the RV show, but their reasons for returning year after year are as diverse as the goods sold by the many vendors. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A dusty destination in the middle of nowhere—but, come January, the little town of Quartzsite transforms into the vendor capital of the world and becomes the largest gathering of RVs and RVers on the planet.

This sleepy Arizona town has become famous for luring snowbirds who like to browse amid RVs and RV products, gems and minerals, crafts and hobby items—and the “mother of all swap meets.”

The Chamber of Commerce gives the normal population as around 3,000. In January and February, it swells to a million plus.

As you approach Quartzsite, Arizona, from any point on the compass, you begin seeing them approximately 20 miles away from town: clumps, groups, and temporary communities of motorhomes and fifth wheels and other types of recreational vehicles circled around common campfire rings like wagon trains of yore. Solo units also are scattered among the sagebrush.

They’re gathering again. They’ve been rolling in since November by the thousands. Most of them camp in the desert that surrounds a town that’s essentially a truck stop on Interstate 10. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In early morning and late afternoon you will see tall, straight fingers of campfire smoke pointing upward from these campsites.

More than a million visitors congregate to browse through swap meets, gem shows, art and crafts shows as well as scores of other booths offering antiques, souvenirs, and “stuff” of all kinds.

The Quartzsite phenomenon began small. Founded in 1856 as a fort by settler Charles Tyson, the town earned its geological-sounding name during a short-lived mining boom in 1897. Quartzsite remained a sleepy Sonora Desert community until the Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) created the Pow Wow Gem and Mineral Show in 1967, drawing scores of rock hounds to sell their finds to collectors of decorative and unusual stones. In rapid fashion, succeeding years brought more events to town.

Kenny King started selling RV awnings at the Quartzsite Pow Wow in 1974. Then in January 1984, he threw up a circus tent and opened the first Quartzsite RV Show.

The Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show has since evolved into the primary draw for RVers. In 1997 the event moved into its present 20-acre facility a half mile south of the center of town along Highway 95.

The show’s centerpiece is the Big Tent, which encompasses more than 55,000 square feet with over 300 vendors inside and on the surrounding midway.

Dates for the 29th Annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 21-29, 2012, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission and car parking are free.

Besides a warm welcome, Quartzsite also offers wonderful activities to fill your time when you need a break from shopping: golf, hiking, fishing, four-wheeler excursions, jam sessions, dancing, bingo, a visit to Celia’s Rainbow Garden, and the Hi Jolly Monument.

Hadji “Hi Jolley” Ali was a man of Greek origin that was recruited by the U.S. Government to herd camels across the desert prior to the Civil War. The U.S. solders quickly added the nickname Hi Jolly. The Civil War ended the camel program and the animals were turned loose on the desert.

You won’t want to miss the 2012 Quartzsite Shows!

A camel driver named Hahji Ali came to Arizona in the mid-1850s with a large number of camels, which had been ordered by the U.S. Army as an experiment. He was called “Hi Jolly” by the locals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2012 Quartzsite Show Dates

January 1-February 28, 2012: Desert Gardens -Gem & Mineral
January 6-January 15, 2012: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show
January 7-January 22, 2012: Main Event
January 20-January 29, 2012: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama
January 21-January 29, 2012: Sports, Vacation & RV Show
February 1-February 5, 2012: Hobby Craft & Gem Show
February 3-February 12, 2012: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair
February 4-February 5, 2012: Rock & Roll Car Show
March 3, 2012: Chili Cook-Off & State Salsa Championship

To read other stories about Quartzsite, click here.

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More