Renaux and I went to the Oronoco Gold Rush days during our first summer together. We’d spent the spring of our courtship picking through Rochester’s thrift shops, but things were growing serious; our kitsch-surfing needed upgrading.
We parked on the grassy side of a gravel road, soaked up final seconds of A/C, then wandered into the world-famous sprawl of tents, trinkets, and treasures.
I bought her a vintage costume necklace. Between every turquoise bead is a gold flower. It closes with a big clasp. She still wears it. I bought myself Donkey Kong 64 and a Dana Scully action figure (that’s her in the quiz). The find of the day, though, was a pair of unbroken geodes from the bottom of a dirty white bucket.
Geodes are boring, ugly, even, on the outside. Inside, though, millions of years of conflict and platonic upheaval have sharpened crystal points and waves of strange mineral marks.
We’d made plans with my grandparents, Maimie and Poppie, to eat at their cabin on the muddy remains of Lake Zumbro, so we took our rocks there and sat on the lawn pounding on them with hammers while Maimie told us stories about her finds from Gold Rush days in the ‘80s and Poppie microwaved hot dogs.
When I secluded myself in that cabin to write last fall, the chunk of geode we left for them was still sitting out, still emanating waves of that day’s positivity. That’s what you’re going into Gold Rush days to find – your future memories among the soft vibrations of other people’s pasts. Choose wisely.
I am an antique junkie. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m just a junk junkie disguised as an antique junkie. Sure, there’s the thrill of the hunt, but there’s something even more liberating about taking something old and breathing new life into it.
One of my favorite things about shows like Gold Rush is going with my mom because oftentimes, the pieces I love are things she used when growing up on a farm in central Minnesota. Hearing her stories about things she or my grandparents grew up with and used for mundane daily tasks makes me fall even more in love with the rusted, weathered, well-worn items, be it a wagon wheel, old farm tools or even clothing.
My husband may roll his eyes every time I announce I’m heading to another show, but when I come home with screaming deals (like said wagon wheel that I snagged for a mere TEN DOLLARS!), he sees the joy and excitement in my face as I showcase each new piece and situate it in the perfect spot in our home. The history of each piece gets added to my own personal history, a connection through time with some other person.
Plus, I love finding cool looking things for wicked good prices.
If you go
What: Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days
When: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Throughout downtown Oronoco. No charge.
More info: goldrushmn.com
If you go
What: Gold Rush-Olmsted County Antique Show & Market
When: 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Olmsted County Fairgrounds, $5 parking.
More info: www.townsendantiqueshows.com
1. f; 2. e; 3. c; 4. a; 5. d; 6. h; 7. i; 8. g; 9. b