Two area mines will be participating: Wegner Quartz Crystal Mines and Sweet Surrender. There will also be a film crew from Mineral Explorers, an independently-produced series for public TV, documenting the event. The Mount Ida area has been identified as one of the major deposits of quartz crystal in the state and makes up a major “quartz belt” within the Ouachita Mountains. Many of the different quartz crystal formations are found here, including the interestingly formed “phantoms”, which occur when a new crystal is formed over an existing one with the visible older crystal called the phantom, clusters ( which contain several crystals) and double terminated quartz.
Last year, the championships didn’t take place due to financial reasons so this is a nice return for the popular event. I went to the championships in 2009 and due to rain the crystal fields were quite muddy but that didn’t stop competitors from digging in. I remember there was also a Japanese film crew from Nihon TV covering the event that year. The footage was viewed by 15 million Japanese TV viewers. During the dig, contestants compete for cash and trophies and can keep all the crystals they mine during the contest.
Also of note, the Quartz, Quiltz and Craftz Festival will also be taking place at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds during this weekend. This is a gem and mineral show as well as an arts and crafts and quilt show ( over 150 quilts will be there for folks to see). For more information on either event, visit www.mtidachamber.com.
Below is a video from the Sweet Surrender folks covering washing clusters that have been found at their mine.