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Exciting News from Poland!

Last Updated: 16th May 2011

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Exciting news from Poland!

I've just come back from a quick weekend trip to Poland to help organize our field trips and conference in July (10th - 17th).

In case you haven't heard - we're organizing our first mindat conference and field trips in July this year in the Lower Silesian town of Lwówek Śląski.

Why there? Because not only is it the richest mineralogical region in Poland (we've got some amazing field trips lined up), it's also a town which likes to celebrate the fact, and 20,000 people or more are coming to the town for the weekend Agate Festival, which we'll be a part of.

So, I made a short trip to help plan details, to make sure this event is the best mineral event you'll ever attend, and to take a few photos to show you what we're doing already.

Here's the town center. The beautiful town dates back to at least 1217, and although damaged during World War 2, most of the town's medieval center remains, including the wonderful Town Hall

The Town Center

First stop was to meet the town mayor. He was at a Fire Service fun day, which we gatecrashed (nice sausages!)

Hopefully no-one in the town had a fire today

The mayor (left) and of course the important local beer!

The town have been amazing helping us out with this event. They are very excited to have us there and are giving us everything we need to put on a super event - as you'll see!

We're going to be giving everyone who comes to the conference a goody-bag packed with useful things, including a exclusive Mindat conference T-Shirt, and some other surprises. One of the more useful things everyone will get is this map:

A local area map - agate localities marked!

The reverse shows the town center. I've marked on the important places (in this article) as A to E - everything is in convenient
walking distance. I don't have photos for 'C', which is the Hall of Culture, where Jeff Scovil's photography workshop will be run, Location 'E' can be seen in the very first photo on this page - it's where the large stage will be erected for the town events.

During the 'Crystal Days' festival - Thursday to Sunday - the entire area inside the yellow ring road is closed to traffic, and parking outside is usually a problem - but not for Mindat Conference guests as there will be parking at the conference venue (Location A on the map) a 2 minute walk from the center for our exclusive use.

the Town Center

Here is the town hall (B on the map). Not only is it the most iconic building in the town, we'll be hosting several parties in here with live music, great polish food and the opportunity to meet collectors from all over the world.

The Town Hall

Did I mention all over the world?

We currently have people coming from: USA, Canada, Austria, Finland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, UK, Hong Kong, Australia and more...

Here's a quick snap of the inside of the Town Hall and some of the old carvings. This is where we'll be having some of our parties.

Town Hall

Sandstone carvings

Sandstone carvings

And we are already hard at work settings things up for the exhibitions and the conference. There is a themed exhibition of Quartz at the Town Hall (and Conference visitors will get the first opportunity to see it). I interrupted the setup to take a few exclusive photos:

Building a display. This won't be finished until July

Lots to choose from, only a few will be selected

This one made the grade

Andrzej hard at work arranging Strzegom specimens

Andrzej is an expert on minerals from Strzegom and has discovered many amazing things there. For most people Strzegom will be the highlight of our collecting trips. We are planning to go to NINE different quarries, three on each day - so if you go on a group on the second day, you won't go to somewhere that was collected out by the people on the previous day. Already we are hearing that some people want to go to Strzegom on all THREE DAYS, and that's perfectly fine!

Here's Andrzej collecting in Strzegom. All the boulders with cavities are no good for slabbing, so they dump them to the side - ready for us

For those of you who have registered and are wondering what's happening about booking of field trips - don't worry! We needed to wait until some of the details have been confirmed, particularly for the Lubin mine trip (which as we suspected is more limited in numbers). There will be lots of options!

And, several people asked "can we buy hammers and tools in the town?". So, of course, we have arranged it - the local toolshop (location D on the map), which is very conveniently next to one of our venues, will be opening early on the Monday and is ordering in extra stocks of geological hammers of three types and chisels (and they are not expensive - the cheapest geological hammer is about five euros).

If you want to buy tools here and not take them home with you, the Spirifer Organization in Poland will be very happy for you to donate them to them at the end of your trip for their young geologists to use on field trips - nothing will be wasted.

The Tool Shop

Here is (Location A) the entrance to the sports complex, it's brand new and we'll be taking it over entirely for the conference. During Conference days the gates will be guarded so only people with conference badges can come in and park. You will realise on the final weekend how important this is when 20,000 people descend on the town.

The Sports Complex

We're converting the sports hall into our conference venue. It may not look right now, but the transformation will be very effective - split into three sections, one for the mineral show, one for the conference, and one for the dining area.

We've dramatically improved what we will be offering for food (compared to our original plans) - we'll be providing lunch and hot evening meals every day - self service buffet style with a choice of several dishes including vegetarian options. We spent two hours yesterday going through all the fine details of the food - mostly polish cuisine but designed to cater for different tastes of the people from around the world. We've put a lot of effort into this!

And there will be beer, wine and vodka as well - at least during some of our evening parties!

The Sports Hall

We have other rooms in the hall available to us. This one will be set up (with a different arrangement of tables) for people with microscopes and/or computers to work on things. It will be secured when not in use.

The Microscope room

And this room will be a free area for mineral swaps - bring your unwanted minerals to exchange here.

Mineral Swap Room

As you may have figured, the parties are a very critical part of our activities. This is an opportunity for collectors and mineralogical professionals to meet, to have good food and drink, and to enjoy this beautiful part of the world. So we wanted to have an outdoor event - and so we went in the Agate van to scout possible localities for this.

All aboard the Agate Van

This place was heavily overgrown, but it has some rather attractive sandstone cliffs behind it - so we liked it! So the town are going to get the grass and weeds cut back to make it nice for us, and we'll have a tent there and a grill to provide grilled food and grilled vegetables for our evening party on the Wednesday night.

Field Party

The conference will be the launch of our new range of merchandise, including the long-awaited mindat t-shirts. I can now reveal there will be SEVEN different designs and you'll want one of each.

If you're very lucky you'll even be able to get one of these, the VERY limited edition hip flask (it's laser-engraved). These will not be offered for sale before the conference, and there are less than 40 available! Price will be 20 euros. If there are any left we will offer them online after the conference - but I don't think there will be! And please don't email me asking to keep one for you - unless of course you'll be coming to buy it at the conference! hip flask

Finally, I took a few photos around the town to show some of the sights.

Part of the city walls, the ring road (in yellow) goes around the outside of the remaining parts of the wall.

The church at 5.30am

Photos from my trip May 13-16 to Poland to help organize for our conference.

A sign commemorating 800 years of the town brewery!

Historic old buildings - this is a pharmacy

And next to it - an agate shop!

Tower on the city wall. You can go in here for a small fee and climb to the top. Great views!

If you still haven't registered for the mindat conference, go NOW to

You have until May 31st to register at the standard price. From June the price will go up!

See you there!

Article has been viewed at least 25533 times.


I can't wait!

Alfredo Petrov
17th May 2011 4:13am
Put my name down earlier today and have booked accomodation as that seems to be going at a rate of knots! If nothing else, I'm confident I can drink €240 worth of beer over the week... and Polish women are particularly excellent!

What's the options on the field trips? I'm more inclined to do the quarry trips and the Lubin trip (space allowing) but wasn't sure if it was possible to opt onto specific trips? Additionally, thouh I've registered, I'm hoping to pay at the beginning of next month to coincide with pay-day! Reference the point above, will I still be eligible for the lower price if I pay AFTER May 31st?

Liam Schofield
17th May 2011 3:02pm
Accommodation is still available (but going fast). The options with the field trips will be quite flexible - You can do any trip (except Lubin) more than once if you want.

Officially the prices will rise after May 31st, however if you register before the end of the month and then pay within the 1st week of June it will be OK.

Jolyon & Katya Ralph
17th May 2011 3:36pm
Does Polish agate take a nice polish?

Steve Hardinger
23rd May 2011 11:39pm
I really did look at attending this first Conference but it just cannot happen this time. I hope to attend the next one! I look forward to learning of the goings-on!

David K. Joyce

David K. Joyce
4th Jun 2011 1:51am

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