Bringing a rockin’ good time

The Geology Club is ready for the Rock, Gem & Mineral Show at the Neville

By Rachel Sankey

A variety of rocks and fossils from Westberg’s personal collection. Though these specific ones won’t be for sale at the show, they preview how many different rocks and gemstones will be available. Rachel Sankey Photos

The term “rock hound” may sound like a phrase coined to those with a strong love for rock music. However, it really stands for the people who have a huge passion for rocks and minerals.

Randy Westberg describes himself as one of those “rock hounds.” He is also the show chairman of the Geology Club, which will be putting on the Rock, Gem & Mineral Show with the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay on April 2–3.

Westberg said his interest in rocks started at a young age growing up on a small dairy farm in Central Wisconsin.

“In the spring, we would go out in the fields and pick the rocks out of the fields, because every time you plow, it would turn up more rocks,” Westberg said. “That’s kind of where it started.”

Many years ago, when Westberg and his family moved to Green Bay, he said they discovered the Geology Club and were hooked.

Once he retired, Westberg said he became more involved with the club and his interest in growing his own collection took off.

Westberg said The Geology Club has been affiliated with the Neville Public Museum for nearly 50 years. The club meets at the museum once a month. The first part of each meeting, Westberg said, is a program that’s open to the public, and includes a guest speaker, such as a professor, a graduate student, weathermen and more, that presents on a geology-centered topic.

The second half of the meeting, Westberg said, is for members to discuss Geology Club business.

As of right now, he said there are about 30 club members.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a rise in interest in rocks and minerals, Westberg said.

“People have been sequestered at home, and so they’re trying to find different things that interest them that they can do at home,” he said. “And studying rocks and some of the geology is one way of doing that.”

The show

The Geology Club, in partnership with the Neville Public Museum, puts on the Rock, Gem & Mineral show every other year. Westberg said a variety of different people attend, from families and children to teens and young adults.

He said there’s something for everyone at the show, rock identification being one of them.

“We have a variety of vendors,” Westberg said. “There will be people there with fossils… with jewelry… with gems and minerals and things. It’s a neat event to take kids to because they can learn things… You’ll see people coming in with families and young kids up to my age group.”

Red White Grape Agate, from China, is formed naturally and has to be chipped out of its matrix, which is similar to a pottery mold. This agate comes from Westberg’s personal collection, but many other great rocks and minerals will be available at the show.

He said his favorite part of the show is he always finds something new and learns from each show.

Westberg said there are two common misconceptions about rocks.

“Misconception-wise, I would probably say the biggest thing is that rocks are dull,” he said. “And the second is that if you go to a rock show, they’re going to cost you a lot of money. Well, yes, some of them can get expensive. You can go home with some really neat specimens for $20-$30.”

Westberg also said people don’t have to buy anything at rock shows, most “rock hounds” are more than happy to talk about rocks and their unique stories.

“I think the interest in rocks never dies away,” he said. “Because any kids that walks along the beach or along a stony road, they’re always picking up rocks and looking at them. Sometimes in the middle of their life, those things kind of get a backseat. But they’re always there.”

Proceeds from the Rock, Gem & Mineral Show go towards the Geology Club. Vendors such as Roxy’s Rock Shop and Montana Sapphires will be at the show.

Rachel Sankey is the Arts and Entertainment Reporter of Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

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