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Agate Days Festival gets ready to rock!

Agate lovers take notice — this weekend is your time to shine.

The Carlton County Gem and Mineral Club and the Moose Lake Chamber of Commerce will host the 45th Annual Carlton County Gem and Mineral Show and Agate Days Festival Saturday and Sunday, July 19-20.

Billing itself as “the world’s premier Lake Superior agate show,” the popular annual event features something for everyone, from the serious gem and mineral aficionado to the adventure-loving agate hunter.

Teeming hordes are guaranteed for the madcap Clark-Olson Agate Stampede, set for 2 p.m. Saturday. For the uninitiated among you, picture a dump truck full of gravel laced with 400 pounds of agates and $300 in quarters spread down the center of Elm Avenue between First National Bank, the Star-Gazette, Downtown Dental and Lake Superior Federal Credit Union. Now picture the starting gun and a wild scramble of “finders-keepers,” and you begin to understand what the Agate Stampede is all about.

The agates for the event are supplied through Gene and Carol Risdon of Cloquet.

“We use some of our own agates and we buy some for it, but we always try to put in more than advertised to make certain everyone has a good time,” related Carol, president of the Gem and Mineral Club.

Moose Lake High School is the hub of the Gem and Mineral Show, featuring free admission Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event showcases jewelry, fossils and rock processing equipment as well as a dazzling display of the area’s finest gems and minerals. The kids will love the gold panning display located outside in the parking lot, and some 50 gem and mineral vendors, called “tailgaters,” will set up outdoors as well. Door prizes will be given out throughout the day, with a grand prize drawing set for Sunday afternoon.

An agate and gem identification session will take place at the Moose Lake Public Library Community Center at 1 p.m., and the Moose Lake State Park and Geological Interpretive Center will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a free open house at the Center on both days and visitors will not be required to have a state park sticker to attend. There will also be free park-and-ride transportation to the Center provided by Moose Lake Motors on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Park-and-ride stops include Moose Lake High School, Lake State Credit Union, the Moose Lake Historical Society and Moose Lake State Park.

If that’s enough to whet your appetite for hunting a few agates of your own, there will be open agate picking at area pits, with maps available at the Moose Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Other attractions during the festival will include a Fireman’s Steak Fry Friday from 4:30-7 p.m., Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast on Saturday from 7:30-11 a.m. at the Moose Lake City Park, and the Bluegrass Jam on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., also in the park.

“Art in the Park” will take place on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Moose Lake City Park, adjacent to the Gem and Mineral Show and featuring some 60 art and craft vendors as well as food and music.

An antique art show is set for Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Moose Lake City Park. There will be a $5 entry fee for participants who bring a donation for the Food Shelf, and $10 without. Concessions will be provided by T.J.’s, and awards will be presented. There will also be a parade of antique cars along Lakeshore Drive to Augustana Health Care Center on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.