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Rock hunting gains popularity in region

  • Pictured are some of rocks Chloe and Connie Wallace have painted as the rock hunting craze has gained in popularity in the region.

    Pictured are some of rocks Chloe and Connie Wallace have painted as the rock hunting craze has gained in popularity in the region.
    Provided photo

By Pete Spitler
updated: 7/14/2017 8:51 PM

An arts-and-crafts treasure hunt activity has exploded in popularity in the region.
Chester's version of the phenomenon, "Rock 'N' River City," began on July 7 and has already gained more than 680 members in its Facebook group.
"A scout troop had been trying to get it going here for awhile and Karissa Heff started it in Edwardsville and Marla (Cushman) tagged me and said 'We need to do this,'" said Chester Recreation Patti Carter. "I put everything up on Facebook on July 7. I started that page that afternoon and put the information on there and it has gone crazy."
The concept behind it is simple - paint a rock, hide the rock, hunt for other rocks, rehide any rocks you find (or keep if you like) and post picture clues to their location on social media. The craze has spread to Sparta, Red Bud, Waterloo, Columbia and across the Mississippi River in Jackson and Cape Girardeau.
"I did start the Red Bud one to have something fun to do with the kids that's inexpensive and get them out of the house and away from the tablets," said Sarah Mercurio, founder of Red Bud Rocks! "We don't hide them that hard, we want the little ones to run up on the playground and be able to find them."
Many of the rocks feature intricate designs and inspirational messages, and businesses are jumping on board by offering discounts on goods and services for people who bring in specific rocks with the business's name or logo.
"It's kinda neat to see what different people are painting," Mercurio said.
Carter also made note of "the quilt rock," which has empty squares on it for the finder to paint. Each finder of the rock fills in a square of the quilt before hiding the rock for the next discoverer.
"Families are getting out there with their kids," Carter said. "I have groups of 20-year-olds asking 'are we too old?'"
Rock hunters are also starting to see rocks from other towns show up locally and local rocks have also traveled out-of-state.
"I know one of our Spinach Can rocks made it to Wisconsin," Carter said. "It has amazed me how well it has taken off here."
As far as what's next, Carter is planning a "rock painting in the park" event at some point in the future.
"I'd like to get with Integrity Healthcare, Three Springs and the Manor and see if we can get some more going," Carter said. "I want to keep more rocks coming in because you need them to hunt."