Things to Do

Go Marble Hunting in Southwest Missouri

If you’re on Facebook, join a local marble hunting group and spend a sunny day hunting for handcrafted marbles made by local artists.

By Jenna deJong

Apr 2021

Handcrafted marble by Buddy Fay of southwest MO
Photo by Buddy FayMarble hunters will hide marbles like this and then leave clues for their group to find the hidden treasure.

Ryan Quigg was working a shift as a reference associate at The Library Center in Springfield when a patron and his two sons asked him a peculiar question. “[They] explained that they were marble hunting and that they were on a puzzle hunt that was a series of questions leading from one objective to the next [to] finally the marble at the end,” Quigg says. One of the questions led the hunters to The Library Center, but they were having difficulty figuring out the next objective and asked Quigg for assistance. After helping them with the task—and becoming immersed in the activity himself—Quigg guessed that the marble was located at The Gardens at Woodfield in Nixa.

[MORE: Ozark Marble Hunters]

Eventually, the group went on their way and a few hours later returned with not only the marble but another surprise. “Just before the end of my shift, the two boys came running across the library to show me the marble that they had found at The Gardens at Woodfield, and whoever had hidden it had also hidden a $5 Andy’s card. They gave me the Andy’s gift card as appreciation for helping them find the marble,” Quigg says.

Marble hunting is a popular hobby in not only southwest Missouri but across the United States. Facebook groups like “Worlds Biggest Marble Hunt” encourage members to participate in hunting and hiding marbles across the country, but local groups like Crazy Marble Hunters and Ozark Marble Hunters pay homage to southwest Missouri. Each group has its own variation of rules, but basically, it works like this: Group members hide the marbles anywhere in the region and give clues in a post. Danny Perches, who sits on the Ozark Greenways board of directors and is also an active member of multiple groups, says the hider usually posts a photo of the marble, along with a photo of the area the marble is hidden in. The idea is that residents of the community will identify that area, thus narrowing the search. Sometimes, the hunt involves multiple steps. A hider might require hunters to find a decoy marble before revealing the next clue for the handcrafted marble. Perches says he’s had to take a selfie and send it to a hider as proof he was on the right track before getting instructions for the next step of the hunt.

There are a few general rules: Marbles are usually on public property, and if they aren’t, it must be specified otherwise in the Facebook post. Once active, hunters must eventually hide their own marbles to keep the game going. Hiding spots must not damage any vegetation or wildlife, and those hiding the marbles must check on the marble every so often to ensure it’s still there (sometimes marbles are discovered by those not associated with the group). Happy hunting!

How Buddy Fay Got Into Marble Hunting and Making

When Buddy Fay isn’t taking care of his 2-year-old son, he’s spending time outdoors or exercising his creativity. Like most others, he was introduced to marble hunting through word-of-mouth. After a friend introduced him to the hobby three years ago, he was hooked. Though he loved hunting, he was intrigued by the glass marbles. “[The] same friend that showed me the marble club also learned how to make marbles,” Fay says. “So when he introduced me to the marble club, he also introduced me to his torch and it was less than a month later when I had my own torch and my own setup and was learning how to make them.”

In the years since, Fay estimates he’s made hundreds of marbles, 200 of which he’s hidden around the Ozarks. “There’s been times where I laid out 10 marbles at a time.” In fact, for Halloween in 2019, Fay planned a special hunt. He hid 30 of his own marbles and glass creations, plus 40 marbles from two other artists. According to Fay, nearly 40 people went in search of these specially-laid treasures.

Fay’s marbles are sold at Camp Flea Antique Mall + Vintage Market (1900 W. Elm St., Ozark; 417- 581-2575). Fay also occasionally auctions his creations on his personal Facebook page. 

Join the Hunt

Ask to join one of these Facebook groups to participate in the fun:
Worlds Biggest Marble Hunt | World's Elite Marble Hunt | Crazy Marble Hunters | Ozark Marble Hunters | Marbles Lost and Found | Hide & Seek Marbles