Sunday, August 7, 2011

44th Annual OMS Show - Sayonara St. Jo Edition

This weekend the Orcutt Mineral Society (OMS) held it's 44th annual gem and mineral show at the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Nipomo, CA. Set-up for the club and the dealer was last Thursday while the show ran from last Friday through today.

I helped my friend Dave set up his booth on Thursday and helped him in his booth today both in sales and in packing up this evening after the show . Dave did well as always but it was a slow show overall the reasons for which I'll get into shortly.

There was a good bit of controversy at the show this year which cast a dark cloud of bad karma over the whole weekend; the feeling was quite palpable. Apparently, our host church has a new parish priest, Father Alberto, fresh off the train from Guadalajara, Mexico. Being new to this parish he is unfamiliar with our show and what we do and how we do it. Being unfamiliar with Western Culture, American Culture in particular, he is entirely unfamiliar with the concepts of the rockhound and the gem and mineral show. The previous parish priest knew us and appreciated the money we brought the church for very little effort or sacrifice on their part as we basically did all the work. All St. Joseph Catholic Church had to do was stay out of our way for 4-5 days and stick out their hand and grab our check.

A woman who volunteers in the church office but is not payed staff has long been opposed to the presence of our show on that church's grounds. She feels it is an inappropriate use of church property all the while having no apparent reservation over reverse raffles. This manipulative woman could not gain any traction with the previous parish priest so she immediately went to work on the new parish priest, Father Alberto, and poisoned his ear against us and manipulated and inappropriately influenced Father Alberto to pull the plug on show being held there.

Father Alberto, quite unfortunately, treated our club leadership with disdain and contempt and animosity. Father Alberto's arrogance and condescension were beyond the pale and entirely unconscionable. Father Alberto's ignorance and unsophistication are a liability to his new parish and his tone and manner are hardly an evangelistic and missionary asset in spreading the Gospel message nor in representing God in this world nor representing his church in the community.

Furthermore, our members who were involved in the behind-the-scenes negotiations were given the distinct impression that Father Alberto has no time nor use for Anglos. If  I were a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Nipomo I would be embarrassed and outraged at Father Alberto's blatant incompetence and incivility in the handling of this matter as well as his giving the appearance and impression of racism against non-brown members of the community. It is perhaps or perhaps not significant that Father Alberto is quite probably not an American and seems to have brought his Mexican ax to grind with him when he crossed the border.

Getting back to the topic of why the show was slow there are manifold reasons. The economy is one reason, of course. Another is the demographics of the Nipomo Mesa not being a money area overall nor is the Santa Maria Valley for that matter. Another fact is there are too many dealers in the show. This means that each dealer's split of the pie of the buyers' money (in the aggregate)  is smaller than if there were fewer dealers.  I know many dealers in this show whom did not do well at all. Dealers tend to be more frank with each other than with club members or show organizers. Although I'm a member of OMS I'm also a recently retired dealer myself and am seen in that light by other dealers so I get the unedited hot skivvy. It seems obvious the show would do better were it held in an area with more money based in the community such as the Five Cities area or the Santa Ynez Valley. Another improvement would be to have fewer dealers while charging more per dealer so the club would get the same amount of money while the dealers who remained in the show made more money and in turn would not mind paying more to be there. Those who balked at paying more don't belong in such a show.

On a side-note, this was the first time in a number of years at this show while I was there that a fire of significance was not visible at the show. Nothing happened this year, but granted I was merely helping out and visiting a little this year and never attended last year. However, my last year there (2009) saw the La Brea Fire start within sight to the east up in the nearby Los Padres National Forest. Each day of the fire during that show the most notable thing to happen all day was the afternoon appearance of spectacular pyrocumulus clouds over the main convection columns. In 2008 while doing the show an RV caught fire in the neighborhood to the west of the show across the field and creek. The prevailing onshore winds carried large ashes from it and deposited them inside the show area even cropping large cinders into display boxes holding minerals that were displayed on tables in the blacktop area in upon which I was located. In my first year in the show as a dealer (2007) we had the Zaca Fire going full-tilt in the nearby Los Padres National Forest to the southeast. Throughout the entire show it gave us a daily late morning to early afternoon spectacle of  tremendous pyrocumulus clouds.

Below are several images I captured of some of my favorite people in the rock show circuit whom were in attendance at this year's Nipomo show:

Scary Gary From Tulare and his wonderful wife Janice
Cameron showing off his Rose Parade Queen Wave
Max keeping it real
Ernie, Ernie, Ernie...
Tom hiding in the shadows of his hat.    
My friend and former booth-mate Mike

All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

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