Article as featured in the June/July 2015 Pick & Shovel Gazette.
UPDATE: Photos from the Event!
By SARAH REIJONEN
For the GPAA
It’s fitting that the Gold & Outdoor Festival takes place right in the heart of California’s Gold Country.
Put on by the Gold Prospectors Association of America Delta Gold Diggers Chapter out of Stockton, Calif., the Gold & Outdoor Festival will be held the weekend of Aug. 22 and 23 at the Motherlode Fairgrounds in Sonora, Calif.
“We basically went on a joint effort with GPAA. They allowed the chapter to get a little more involved and do their own thing, and we took them up on that offer,” said Delta Gold Diggers Chapter President Robert Guardiola. “We took the challenge and decided to put on our own show up in Sonora. Nobody’s really done a gold show up there in a long time.”
Last year was the Delta Gold Diggers first year hosting the festival and it brought in nearly 5,000 visitors, Guardiola said. But, the success would not have been possible without help from other GPAA chapters, near and far, he said. The Delta Gold Diggers also got a lot of help from local gem and mineral clubs that were eager to get involved.
“The whole chapter came together and started planning it and GPAA got behind us as sponsors. They’ve been very generous in how they helped us and still are helping us,” Guardiola said. “All these other chapters jumped in and helped us, like the Central Valley Prospectors in Fresno. We got help from chapters as far away as Las Vegas. We had a great outpouring of response and help from other chapters.”
This isn’t your average festival, Guardiola said. In fact, visitors can call Sonora home for a weekend, if they like and put the “outdoors” in the Gold & Outdoors Festival by making camp right at the fairgrounds.
“The other thing that we’ve created around that is camping. It’s right there on site, so it’s more like an outing than a festival, because you’re there,” Guardiola said. “You don’t have to worry about what’s going on at home. You can enjoy the fresh air and the nice place around friendly people.”
Like most gold shows, there will be vendors and demonstration booths set up, as well as seminars.
“We’ll have a live dredging demonstration, provided we can get water OK’d for that. We are going through a drought, so that may be an issue,” Guardiola said. “We’ll also have a few smaller dredges set up so people can see what’s going on with that.”
There will also be many hands-on activities, including gold panning and a metal detecting hunt. Last year, the hunt was sponsored by Minelab, which donated approximately $3,000 worth of silver coins.
The kids can also join in the fun, Guardiola said.
“Gem and mineral clubs have provided activities for them. Last year, they were able to make bracelets. We do include them in the whole process. It’s a lot of fun for them,” he said.
Of course, the festival would not be complete without the chance to go home with a free metal detector or Alaska trip. Public Lands for the People and the American Mining Rights Association will give away a variety of prospecting prizes at this year’s festival. Last year, the Delta Gold Diggers Chapter was able to help raise more than $6,000 for PLP.
Not only is the gold show in Gold Country, but it is also close to multiple GPAA claims, including the Rough Knight claim in Columbia and the Just For Fun 1, Cat Lady and Deer Creek No. 5 claims in Twain Harte. The Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association Italian Bar Camp is also just a short drive from Sonora.
“It’s a jumping point to get a little prospecting in,” Guardiola said.
While gold is the centerpiece, the festival is also about getting people outdoors, and Guardiola said there is something for everyone who attends, whether they have gold fever or not.
“They can ride an old steam train 10 minutes down the road in Jamestown. There’s lots and lots of history in that area, from trails and so on,” Guardiola said. “There’s the old town of Columbia. The town has been preserved from the 1800s. It’s just like taking a walk back in time. You’ve got restaurants all the way around. You’ve got wine country up there—huge industry in wine. We’ll actually have the tourism bureau on site with ideas that people can do in the area. There are just tons and tons of things to do for everybody.”
Ultimately, the festival is about educating the public and showing them just how fun gold prospecting can be.
“We’re just in it to have a little fun,” Guardiola said. “Our association is about educating, not making money.”
Who: GPAA Delta Gold Diggers
What: Gold & Outdoor Festival
Where: Motherlode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora, CA
When: Saturday, Aug. 22 and Sunday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Why: Learn more about gold prospecting, support land rights groups and have a good time with the whole family.
How: Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 10 and under.
Contact: For more information, contact Robert Guardiola at (209) 606-0085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For camping information or to make a reservation, contact Bill Jones at (209) 242-4787 or email@example.com.
Sarah Reijonen is a freelance writer based in California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org