Spencer Anderson operates the merry go round for Family Fun Show midway at the Stevens County Fair and he’s also an open class exhibitor at the fair.

When the carnival stops at county fairs across Minnesota, Anderson will enter his jewelry in open class competition. He was back at the open class building on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Anderson was greeted by open class workers who recognized him from prior years. He brought at least two pieces of jewelry including a bolo tie fashioned from a stone.

Spencer Anderson shows one of the stones he uses in making jewelry. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times
Spencer Anderson shows one of the stones he uses in making jewelry. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times

“I get first or second places mostly,” Anderson said of how he does in fair competition. He’s entered his jewelry made from rocks and stones at fairs for the past 12 years.

Anderson, 75, said he’s always been interested in rocks but he really developed that interest after majoring in geology and geography at Minnesota State Mankato roughly 21 years ago.

“It’s been a serious hobby since then,” Anderson said.

While he sat on bench waiting for breakfast at a food booth, Anderson reached for the necklace with a dark colored stone around his neck.

“I can get a stone like this done in three to four days,” Anderson said.

He pulled another stone from his pocket. A bluish stone with a light silvery tone that glints brighter in the right light. “I bought a five pound chunk a couple of years ago,” Anderson said.

Working with a five-pound chunk of rock, or really any rock, is a little like unwrapping a present.

Anderson borrows from a phrase from the famous book and movie “Forrest Gump” about life being like a box of chocolates to describe rocks. “With a rock, you never know what you are going to get. Every slice you cut is different. There is a different pattern with every cut,” Anderson said.

He turned the bluish stone in his hand. “I turn the rock over and around to where the best pattern is to cut it.”

He has an assortment of saws, cutters, polishers and rock vibrators in his daughter’s garage where he works in the weeks just before and just after finishing the carnival season. It’s too cold to work on his jewelry during the winter.

When the Stevens County Fair is over, Anderson and the carnival will travel to another county fair. He likes traveling and driving a semi tractor.

As he travels, he looks at the landscape through his interest and knowledge in geography and geology.

“When I see those big hills on (U.S. Highway) 59, just north of Pelican Rapids, I try to figure out just how they got there,” Anderson said.

“This particular geographical area (Stevens County) the hills and the lakes were formed by glacial deposits,” Anderson said. “That’s why you find Minnesota aggregate in Iowa. The glaciers pushed them down there.”