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Gem and Jam Fest brings music and art to Tucson

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Courtesy Sage Thomas | The Daily Wildcat

A festival attendee uses a Tibetan singing bowl during a past Gem and Jam. This year's festival has moved to a new location, the Pima County Fairgrounds. `

The annual Gem and Jam Festival is coming to Tucson. The event, spanning from Feb. 2-5, features performances by jam and electronic musical groups, art gallery installations, visual performers, food vendors and workshops. The festival is held during the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase.

Last year’s festival drew 3,500 people each day. This year the festival is expected to draw in even larger crowds according to Josh Pollack, one of the festival’s producers.

The increase in attendance is just one of the changes to the festival in this, its 11th year. The Gem and Jam Fest has a new home at the Pima County Fairgrounds, 11300 S. Houghton Road.  

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According to Pollack, the new venue has more space for additional programming, whereas in the past, late night events, workshops and the event’s pre-party have been offsite. This year, the entire lineup will be in one location. 

“The bigger venue allows us to book bigger acts and a more diverse lineup,” Pollack said in an email interview.

Courtesy Sage Thomas

A man balances atop a hoop structure at a previous Gem and Jam Festival. The event features many diverse types of art forms and guests.

In addition to the various entertainment events, the venue will also be home to different camping options during the festival.

Attendees can choose between four different options for camping: car, walk-in, RV and boutique camping.

Car camping passes are good for up to four people in one vehicle and cost $85. Walk-in camping, where guests must hike in with their gear, is $30 per person. RV camping, which includes hookups for electrical and water, is $179 and each RV can hold up to six people.

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Boutique camping options are making their debut this year and include Shift Pod tents, made to stay cool during the day and warm during the night, with mattresses, linens, decor and other furniture. Tickets for boutique camping range from $899 to $999 for two people.

“We wanted to provide a high-end, convenient camping option, especially for people traveling from long distances that don’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing all their gear and show up to the festival with everything already set up for them,” Pollack said in an email.

All campers must purchase a festival ticket in addition to their camping passes.

Tickets for the event vary. On Thursday, tickets cost $25, but day passes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are $65 each. Thursday’s festivities run from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., while the rest of the days begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 a.m. 

While the festival offers a variety of different performances and art forms, it also features different workshops. Here are just a few of the workshops that will be available during the festival:

Sacred Thai Massage: Friday, Feb. 3, 4-5:30 p.m.

This workshop, led by Meera Hoffman, guides participants through techniques for Thai Yoga Massage, which works to release tension and alleviate pain. Participants can bring a partner or can attend alone, and all are encouraged to bring something comfortable to lay on.

Acro Yoga Flow for All – Beginner and Advanced: Saturday, Feb. 4, 2-3:15 p.m.

Local grassroot artists collective Cirque Roots is hosting a class that combines yoga and acrobatics. Participants can learn partner acrobatics, counterbalances and partner stacks, though no partner is necessary. There are options for both beginners and more advanced participants.

Minerals of AZ: Specimens, History and Rockhounding: Sunday, Feb. 5, 2-3:15 p.m.

Jose Ramirez, the owner of a local consulting and prospecting corporation, Global Geologic Ventures, LLC, will speak to attendees about minerals in Arizona and the corporation’s geologic extractions.  Ramirez holds a  geosciences degree from UA ith an emphasis in geology. Rockhounds can also learn some extraction techniques.

For more information and a full schedule, visit www.gemandjamfestival.com.


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