Glen Innes's gem festival draws a crowd of over 3000

Adam Marshall will have to keep his day job as the local MP for the Northern Tablelands. His search for gold came up empty.
Adam Marshall will have to keep his day job as the local MP for the Northern Tablelands. His search for gold came up empty.

Minierama chairman Peter Chaffey says he wants to bring 500 kids to next year's gem festival.

The University of New England were able to expand their kids' program this year, drawing some 108 kids from across the region.

A UNE organiser suggested they should aim to "get bigger", and they could draw as many as 500 kids and should aim to achieve that. They even dream of school trips from Tamworth bringing hundreds more to NSW's largest gem and jewelry show.

This was the first year in over a decade that the show has been held at the showgrounds.

He said the change of venue from the Services Club to the Showground had caused teething problems.

"Because we've moved up here and we had everything down pat down there, there was teething problems up here. Over the next couple of years we'll get the design fine tuned for the stallholders.

"And it'll work a lot better but on the whole most of the exhibitors that were here, the stallholders, don't want to go back down there (to the Services Club).

He cited additional space, better amenities and the fact that people can camp out for days in advance and after the event. He was "extremely" satisfied with the new venue.

Minerama drew a crowd of thousands over the weekend, according to organisers.

Peter Chaffey, Minerama chairman, said they estimated attendance of over 3500 over the three days, with Sunday the weakest day.

Unfortunately, he said, a lot of punters were deterred by the drought and lacked the disposable income to pay for gems that can cost hundreds of dollars so the overall financial take probably isn't in line with visitor numbers.

The ATM at the showground had $21,000, half of the RSL's ATM's $40,000 last year. But much of that latter number probably went to poker machines and drinks and so on, whereas this year's number would have been spent more or less entirely on gems.

Opal traders in particular said there was huge interest and increased turnover.