B.C.’s Chief Gold Commissioner Mark Messmer competes in a speed panning competition against a miner, while Mayor Bob Simpson looks on during last year’s Gold Show. Messmer will be competing in the gold panning showdown once again this year. Ronan O’Doherty photo

Quesnel Gold Show will feature celebrity panning showdown and much more

The eighth annual Gold Show takes place April 12-14 at Alex Fraser Park

Celebrating the past, present and future of mining in the Cariboo, this weekend’s Gold Show in Quesnel will give locals and visitors a chance to not only watch gold panners in action, but also try their hand at panning.

The eighth annual Gold Show takes place April 12-14 at Alex Fraser Park.

Cariboo Mining Association secretary-treasurer Jackie Sarginson says they have quite a few new vendors this year, and they have at least 12 government representatives coming to this year’s show, including policy makers, staff from the local Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations office and the chief gold commissioner.

“That’s always busy,” Sarginson says of the government tables.

Again this year, the Pet Safe Coalition Society of Canada will be doing a pie auction to raise money. The auction takes place Saturday, right after the celebrating gold panning showdown.

Throughout the weekend, there will be gold panning for the whole family, demonstrations, vendors with gold displays, a precious rock and gem display, and door prizes.

A celebrity gold panning showdown will take place Saturday at 12:45 p.m. at the stage and will feature Queen of the Creek Karen St. John, Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson, Gold Commissioner Mark Messmer, Cariboo Mining Association President Rick Wittner, MLA Coralee Oakes, among others.

Following the competition, the Pet Safe Coalition Society of Canada will hold a fundraising pie auction.

On Sunday, children can take part in a treasure hunt and panning showdown.

The children’s treasure hunt is for kids aged 12 and younger, and they are asked to be at the stage area by 11:15 a.m. The treasure hunt will start at 11:30 a.m. The top six finishers will advance to the gold panning showdown at 12:30 p.m., and there will be trophies for first, second and third place.

One difference regulars will notice this year is there are no outside vendors.

Sarginson says they usually see between 1,200 and 1,500 people at the Gold Show, not counting the children.

“It will be interesting this year because a lot of people are hurting financially, but we do get a lot of people who come from Alberta and the Yukon,” she said.

Sarginson says the gold panning is always very popular, and people always like to watch the celebrity gold panning showdown.

She adds a big aim of the Gold Show is education.

“Especially the government table, they get to meet face-to-face with them and ask open, honest questions,” she says. “The new health and safety senior inspector for mines will be there as well. People always come out feeling a lot better that they got to talk to someone.”

Sarginson has noticed that the Gold Show is also a great chance for miners to get together and share stories and information.

“It’s just the networking of the miners getting together, the stories they tell,” she says. “I sometimes just want to stand there and listen to the old-timers. It is a lot of history there. Even though we are not The Gold Pan City anymore, that is our history, and we really don’t want to lose that.”

Sarginson loves seeing the children trying gold panning and learning about this area’s mining history.

“Just to see their faces when they see the gold in the pan, some of them get so excited,” she said. “The future generations introducing them to our heritage is really big too.”

The Quesnel Gold Show takes place this weekend (April 12-14) at Alex Fraser Park. The show is open Friday from 5-9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission is $3 for adults (cash only) and free for children 12 and younger who are accompanied by an adult.

For more information Contact Rick or Jackie at 250-991-0615 or e-mail cariboominingassociation@hotmail.com.

READ MORE: Annual Gold Show a 24-karat affair

Lindsay Chung
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