Rock craze tumbles into Cassville community

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Kayla Hendrix holds a rock she found with Brylee Dotson in the background. Dotson is the daughter of Amanda Dotson, who started the rock hunt in the Cassville area, which has become quite a popular activity for families and children, and getting people outdoors. Contributed photo

Painted rocks being hidden benefit families, businesses

Whether in the ground or rising out of the hills, rocks are a staple of the Ozarks, and in Cassville, a new type of rock is making the rounds -- painted rocks.

The rocks are being found in bushes, trees, doorways, the park and along trails, and they are getting children outdoors, bringing families together and even benefiting businesses.

Businesses are joining in the fun of rock-hunting, painting rocks of their own and offering perks for the finder, such as this one, which offers the finder a percentage off their purchase in the consignment store. This particular rock was painted by Amanda Dotson, who initiated the local rock-hunting craze by painting about 100 rocks with children and hiding them in the community and establishing the Cassville Rocks Facebook page as a forum to track the rocks and post comments. Contributed photo

All one has to do to witness the positive effect the game is having on children and families is visit the Facebook site, Cassville Rocks, to see children holding rocks they found with beaming smiles on their faces.

The rocks are creatively painted with pictures, designs, themes, inspirational messages, and on the back, have the Facebook symbol with the message: "Cassville Rocks, rehide, or keep."

Finders have the option of keeping a rock they really like. The only rules are that the finder take a picture of the rock, post on the Facebook site and state if they're going to keep it or rehide it.

"That way, the artist knows [it was found]," said Cassville resident Amanda Dotson, who started the community craze.

Communities across the country have been participating in the activity, and Dotson made it local.

"I love anything artsy and heard about painting rocks on the news," she said.

A face painter, Dotson asked her daughter and two other children she was caring for one day, "Hey, do you guys want to paint rocks?"

"We waited until we had about 100 painted, then hid them around town," she said. "We go to Pinterest to get ideas on what designs to paint. It's funny. I have kids actually wanting to get a bucket of rocks now, because for discipline, you used to have to go pick up rocks."

While everyone is enjoying the activity, it has developed into more than just the latest fad.

"I think it's bringing people together, honestly," Dotson said. "It brings joy to kids' faces and just seeing kids run and say, 'Mom, I found a rock!' And it's getting families off the phone and out in nature. At least we're catching something besides a fake Pokemon that you can't see, but this you can see and touch, and kids love it. One lady said it's getting her motivated to go walking, because she might find rocks she can rehide or keep."

Anyone can participate, cost is minimal, and participants do not have to be crafty.

"We just use the cheap little Apple Barrel brand paints that are 50 cents at Walmart for a bottle, and a sharpie marker," Dotson said. "I Mod Podge them after the paint dries to seal them, which you can get in the craft section."

Dotson is now using the game to give back to the community, and businesses are getting on board, too.

For instance, whoever finds a rock circulating bearing "Route 66" gets a free $10 gas card from Dotson.

Whoever the lucky finder of this rock bearing "Route 66" gets a $10 gas card. What was started as a fun rock-hiding activity for local families by Cassville resident Amanda Dotson, has morphed into something that is benefiting the community. Businesses are getting on board, too, painting rocks advertising their business and offering perks for whoever finds the rock. Contributed photo

"We don't have much to give back to the community, but might as well give back something," she said. "I would like to find a sponsor who can say, I'll donate $10 to the finder. The community is welcome to help. I was driving by the American Legion and saw a mother and child walking around the tank looking for a rock, because the hint was that it was by the American flag, and thought, 'That is so cute.'"

Businesses are asking Dotson to paint rocks for them, or painting and hiding their own as a means of advertising, offering perks for the finder.

Leta Higgs, who works at Tomblin's Jewelry and Gifts, said owner Chloe Epperly painted rocks with a diamond ring, watch and their business name, and whoever finds it will receive a free gift when they bring it into the store.

"We just think it's great for the community, it's getting kids out walking and looking, and adults, too," Higgs said.

"It's like a treasure hunt," said Donna Mills, who works in the assessor's office. "I thought it was a cool idea and so I've started painting rocks myself now. It's fun and gives exercise because you get out and walk to look for them. The kids are going wild looking in the shrubs around the courthouse or the city park, playground or Greenway Trail. It gives them a purpose and reason to get off their electronics and enjoy the day and the challenge of finding it, rehiding it, then seeing who finds it. Kids are getting to use their creative energy, and who knows, there may be some future painters out there."

"The best rocks are the kids' rocks, just to see their creativity, instead of them being on some electronic app playing games," Dotson said.

Mandy Dunfee, owner of Family Matters consignment store, said whoever finds the rock with her business name will receive a percentage off their purchase.

"We'll keep rehiding it to bring more people into the store," she said. "If more businesses got involved to help Amanda, it could bring a lot more people into their business. For instance, if a gas station could sponsor the $10 gift card."

Many of the rocks bear inspirational messages.

"I think we definitely, in this world, need Jesus and the inspiration, so I think it's a positive thing to keep the rocks going," Dunfee said.

"I may hide some by the judicial center, because someone might look down and see a rock that says, 'Hope,' and might think, 'Hey, I might win my case today,'" Dotson said.

Trinity Hartin, who works at Barry County Abstract, said the rocks are bringing families closer.

"To sit down with your kids and paint them and have them hide them, it's good family time," she said. "My favorites ones have the religious sayings on them. Just the creativity is really neat. Amanda painted one for our business."

Whether the activity fizzles out or continues, only time will tell.

"I'm hoping it's not a fad," Dotson said. "I don't know with winter coming if people will still want to get out, but we will continue to paint rocks. We may hide more inside places."

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