Festival Recap: Gem & Jam 2018

I recently had the honor of attending 2018’s Gem & Jam Festival, in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert… and it seemed as if my all wintertime despairs were washed away by the vitality that existed.  My favorite part about Gem & Jam is that it is not your typical music and arts festival.  The moment I stepped foot and immersed myself into its welcoming, colorful and warm atmosphere, I could feel the miraculous energy.

Every year, the festival is held during the same period as the Tucson Gem, which is known as the world’s most massive gem, mineral, and fossil showcase. It attracts scavenger hunters from all over the world, who arrive to Tucson to seek hand-made and unique jewelry, collectibles, treasures and hard-to-find minerals.  I was lucky enough to to experience both and celebrate the magic and beauty that exists in the natural minerals and fossils that mother nature has gifted us with.  I was at a complete loss for words as I witnessed the variety of all the unbelievably beautiful and magical minerals that were being showcased.

After being awed by the gem show, I excitedly entered the festival grounds of Gem & Jam – the camping grounds of which became my home and sanctuary for the weekend. It was a perfect cultivation of unforgettable experiences that exceeded all my expectations. Live artists poured their souls onto the canvas, creativity of the attendees flowed continuously with arts and crafts, inspiring and stimulating lectures and workshops enlightened the crowds, performers moved on stage, and the music healed our souls. Even with a diverse musical lineup with artists as eminent and world-renowned as STS9, Lettuce, Emancipator, Papadosio, Thriftworks, and many more!

Gem & Jam marvelously succeeded in maintaining a small-community atmosphere, and thus, appreciating and providing more intimacy, familiarity, and communal unity among its attendees.  What was once a small gathering, continues to gain enormous popularity and respect from festival goers, artists, treasure hunters, and adventurers alike.  I’m already looking forward to next year!

words: anna abovyan

photos: jessi jae joplin