Story and photos by JOSHUA BAILEY
Pima Gem & Jam: Friday Roundup
This weekend marked the 14th annual Pima Gem and Jam Festival in Tucson.
The fairgrounds held a whopping 5,000 guest capacity for the music fest and hosted a variety of artists and DJs playing an eclectic mix of jams ranging from EDM to folk-country.
Stars like Rising Appalachia, STS9 and Simon Posford were scheduled to appear over the weekend. The first year back from the pandemic made Pima Gem & Jam hit the ground running with a dazzling lineup of artists, entertainers and music-weavers.
Tripp St., known for his unique style of electronic music reminiscent of action-packed sci-fi media, made an appearance at the Onyx Stage on Friday to an enthusiastic audience that packed the entire auditorium.
Around the same time, the folk band Rising Appalachia made its way onto the Emerald Stage and performed their hearts out for eventgoers. Crowds poured out of both areas once their sets were over, truly captivating a crowd of thousands.
They say art for art’s sake is a meaningless thing. However, a large selection of the merchandise and wares on sale at the festival were handcrafted by the men and women selling them. Leather belts and pouches, one-of-a-kind caps, exotic textiles and beautiful neon lights all lined the stalls within the event.
We asked Susan Halifax, a proprietor of a Reiki healing tent, what it was like to be a vendor.
“Well, you come in before everyone else on the first day. Getting set up can be back-breaking but once your stall is done, you spend most of your time sitting down and selling. We’ve been offering massages and crystal energy healing to eventgoers and have been coming to Pima Gem & Jam for the past few years.”
And what would a festival be without a campfire? In a communal drum circle lay a firepit near the Opal Stage for guests to relax, warm up by the calming fire and even join in chants from Navajo and Zuni artists from across the Southwest.
Overall, Friday seemed like a bustling day and upended my expectations. It was better than the years preceding it and event-goers will find plenty to entertain themselves. Lose yourself in music for hours or fancy your tastes for shopping from independent artists and vendors.