Today was busy, but very fun. I spent the day with my family up in Moose Lake, Minnesota for the yearly agate festival and stampede. There were a ton of people there and many sellers of all kinds. The grab bags are typically the best deals, in my opinion, but I did find some pretty beads to make jewelry with and a neat agate that kind of looked like Jupiter.
Our trip started off at five in the morning, this went about as well as you think it would, with everyone trying to get everything done at once, even though we thought we were prepared for everything the previous night. Everything from the pets (we can’t leave them for more than a few hours, we had to replace my birth certificate because one of the dogs went psychotic) to the family (WHY DOES ANNE HAVE TO HAVE A GIANT BACKPACK!?) and the bags and tools for looking for agates.
It was a three hour drive from our home to Moose Lake, and we only made a few rest stops. At one of these spots, Anne found a four-leaf clover. We figured this meant that the rest of the day would be pretty good. It was! For the most part. We explored the festival and the bazaar sort of area first, but there were multiple hosers smoking like chimneys and I ended up having an asthma attack (thank you, Anne, for carrying one of my inhalers) and went inside where the smokers weren’t.
I would definitely recommend the Agate festival for people who love cool, hand-made things, gemstones and rocks, and cool fossils. There’s also a lot of neat people to talk and listen to. A lot of people at the festival have been around the world in different places, either just traveling or looking for more rocks. The festival is pretty kid-safe (aside from the smokers) and the stampede itself is fun, but might be somewhat overwhelming for smaller children.
The stampede usually starts around 2:00, but before that two large trucks filled with gravel, including agates, granite, fossils, and more, along with twelve dollars in quarters, are dumped along the street. A police line keeps people from running in before the bell sounds and everyone runs in to collect rocks. It’s a lot of fun, but the driver of one truck screwed up one year by dumping every rock in a single pile at the end of the street. Needless to say he narrowly escaped being stoned by fossils and was subsequently fired.
Aside from that one incident, the agate festival at Moose lake is one of my favorite summer traditions and one I would most certainly recommend to anyone who has a means to get there.