Lifestyle

Rock hounds head to Oak Harbor for a sweetheart of a show

Eric Youngren and six-year-old Zane Youngren take a look at the fossil collection of Cindy McDermott and Beverly Beasley. The collection also included ammonites, goniatites and trilobites.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Eric Youngren and six-year-old Zane Youngren take a look at the fossil collection of Cindy McDermott and Beverly Beasley. The collection also included ammonites, goniatites and trilobites.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Some couples say a “rock” is a traditional symbol of love on Valentine’s Day, but to Tracy Menger, the romance associated with rocks doesn’t stop at diamonds or gems.

“We’re both into geology,” said Kris, Tracy’s husband. “It’s our favorite hobby and something we share together.”

Perfect for rock-hunting couples, Valentine’s Day and a rock show coincided last weekend when the Oak Harbor Senior Center held its annual Sweetheart of a Rock Show, Feb. 13 and 14.

The show, now in its 30th year, is often a place to find unusual treasures from across Whidbey Island and all over the world.

Sisters Cindy (Finn) McDermott and Beverly Beasley were selling prehistoric fossils, such as a 40-million-year-old Knightia, or a slender fish. They mined it themselves in Wyoming.

As kids, McDermott said collecting rocks was reasonable entertainment on Whidbey.

“At West Beach we found mastodon teeth and jade,” McDermott said. “You can find something interesting on any beach here.”

Whidbey also has a wide variety of agates, jaspers and garnets that came down from Canada when glaciers scraped over the island.

Besides finding rocks, members of the Whidbey Island Gem and Rock Club showed visitors there are also many ways to work with stones.

Master flint knapper Dr. Joe Higgins demonstrated how to shape stones into sturdy blades and projectile points. Other members demonstrated ancient techniques of primitive art and how to craft stone tools used by American Indians.

As club member Jim Smith was beading a Blackfoot Indian pattern, an artist across the room was showing a chain weave pattern used during the Roman Empire.

“What’s great about this is that they actually put the tools in your hand and show you what to do,” Kris Menger said.

The weekend rock show brought in over 500 people to the Oak Harbor Senior Center, organizers said. The collections were displayed (in raw or polished form) along tables or glass cases inside the center.

For the Mengers, who come every year from Bellingham for Valentine’s Day and their anniversary, the event is never a disappointment. And, the show could be another chance to add to their cool collection.

“Our rock piles are growing larger every day,” Tracy said.

The Whidbey Island Rock and Gem Club meets monthly. For more information contact 360-279-4580.

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