American Prospector Treasure Seeker and Sleepy Bear Mine are teaming up once again to bring you
Oktoberfest 2015, a four-day gold prospecting experience in the California desert.
Highlights of the event will include a barbecue, a giant potluck, bonfire, entertainment, prizes,
all the gold you can find on the property, mining and equipment demonstrations and prospecting
Proceeds from this event will go to support both Public Lands for the People and the recently
formed Minerals and Mining Advisory Council.
Oktoberfest will be held at Sleepy Bear Mine, owned by Joe and Karen Martori, near Randsburg,
Calif., Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12. This year, Oktoberfest will be held in honor of PLP
founder and mining rights legend Jerry Hobbs, who passed away Dec. 28, 2014.
Jim and Sue Jeffrey and their daughter, Kristie Jeffrey-Whitfield, of American Prospector Treasure
Seeker, together with the Martoris have been avid promoters and tireless organizers of this and
several other events held at the Sleepy Bear Mine.
Oktoberfest is open to all outdoor user groups for four days of gold prospecting, metal detecting,
hiking, off-roading, dirt biking, camping, bottle collecting and relic hunting, said Jim Jeffrey.
“Our goal is to bring all types of outdoor enthusiasts together and unite ourselves. As Americans,
we all have rights to public lands, which are being taken away from us,” Jeffrey said. “We would
like to have as many outdoor groups show up as possible to unite as one.”
Joe Martori emphasized that one need not be a miner to attend Oktoberfest.
“It’s really fun — family fun,” Martori said. “That’s the No. 1 reason to attend.”
The second reason for other outdoor enthusiasts to attend is that miners are the first line of
defense in keeping public lands and roads open. “Recreationalists don’t have specific rights to
keep the lands open, but miners have congressional statutes and rights to keep the lands and roads
open for everybody to use. So, they should work with miners to keep lands open for off-roading,
hunting and other outdoor uses,” he said. “They can unify with miners to use the mining roads and
get to their favorite places in the backcountry.”
A common misconception is that when a mining claim is staked on public lands, it closes the land
off to other uses. That is not true unless another activity interferes with the mining operation or
poses a safety hazard, Martori said.
Appeal for unity among miners
One message Jeffrey wants to emphasize is unity among mining groups themselves.
“United we stand. Divided we fall,” Jeffrey said. “We need to be positive and recognize everyone’s
contribution to the cause. We need to come together as one and become as strong as the NRA. A lot
of us don’t have a big pocketbook to fight every battle and so we need to just get along,” he said.
GPAA Panning Zone
The Gold Prospectors Association of America has committed to having a GPAA Panning Zone at this
year’s Oktoberfest event and participants will be invited to tour the Duisenburg Lost Dutchman’s
Mining Association Camp, which is just a few miles from Sleepy Bear Mine, said GPAA President
“Having the GPAA Gold Panning Zone there, where people can learn how to pan for real gold, will be
a huge plus,” Jeffrey said. “I saw it set up at the Las Vegas Gold & Treasure Show and I was
Gems and gold for kids
In addition to gold panning, Jeffrey said there will be a gem panning trough for children.
“For kids, we’re also planning on adding some gems to the panning troughs, so they can pan for gold
and gems,” Jeffrey said. “Hopefully, that will add some sparkle to their eyes.”
Patrick Keene of Keene Engineering will attend this year’s event and provide hands-on
demonstrations of various drywashers and other small-scale mining equipment.
Last year, about 40 people showed up at the drywashing station to watch and learn how to operate
drywashers, panned out their concentrates and took home some gold.
“They learned how to drywash, they had fun with their families and they got to keep the gold they
found,” Jeffrey said.
Best-dressed in the West
One new event will feature a best-dressed contest for anyone donning pre-1900s-style attire. “If
you want to dress as a cowboy, Indian or prospector, come on out,” he said.
Because there are hundreds of miles of off-roading trials, Oktoberfest organizers will provide maps on the off-roading trails.
“This year we’re going to make sure there are maps available for off-roading,” Martori said.
What about the gold?
More than three ounces of gold were found on the property at last year’s event.
“There were several nuggets found, too. And, I heard a couple of them were good-size nuggets,”
Jeffrey said. If you have a metal detector, bring it, he said.
“One guy found an old mining camp and raked in a bunch of old coins,” he said. “It was pretty
More than six speakers are expected to conduct seminars on mining and Gold Rush history, Martori
Topics will range from black sand recovery to how gold is refined at Sleepy Bear Mine to California
mining and Randsburg history.
Barbecue and potluck
The Saturday evening barbecue and potluck at Oktoberfest have already gained a reputation for being
nothing short of excellent.
Martori said he is planning on having possibly lamb, wild boar or both and about half-a-dozen
different kinds of sausage for the barbecue. For more information on what to bring for the potluck,
go to www.aptsgold.com.
Plan your trip
Besides the historic town of Randsburg and the Rand Desert Mining Museum, there are other
attractions you may want to check out. Plan ahead to see the historic Burro Schmidt Tunnel in the
El Paso Mountains of the northern Mojave Desert in eastern Kern County. The half-mile-long tunnel
was dug entirely by hand over 38 years by William “Burro” H. Schmidt (1871–1954) in the El Paso
You may also want to visit Last Chance Canyon, which extends from Black Mountain in the north to
Saltdale, Calif. in the south. The area is significant because of historical sites, including
mines, dugouts, old mining camps, rock art sites, milling stations, quarries, cremations and rock
If you decide to go, remember to bring your own mining equipment and to pack for desert terrain and
weather. Bring plenty of food and water.
Tribute to Jerry Hobbs
The Martoris and Jeffreys have decided to dedicate Oktoberfest 2015 to the memory of PLP founder
Jerry Hobbs, who passed away in December. “He gave up 25 years of his life for us fighting to keep
public land open—25 years! Unbelievable,” Jeffrey said. “It’s about people getting together
and enjoying what we love doing in honor of Jerry and doing what Jerry fought for us be able to do.
Just come out and have a great time.”
Last year, Oktoberfest drew more than 300 participants and raised about $9,500 for PLP in its
ongoing fight to keep public lands open to gold prospecting and other outdoor uses. PLP is a
501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was formed in 1990. This year marks its 25th anniversary.
PLP President Walt Wegner thanked the Jeffreys and Martoris for their hard work in organizing the
event and pledged to have an even stronger presence at the 2015 event.
Volunteers and sponsors
Volunteers and sponsors are welcome to contact Jeffrey at (951) 676-2555 or go to:
www.aptsgold.com. Products can be demonstrated — but not sold — on-site.
Advance online registration required
This year, all participants MUST register in advance at American Prospector Treasure Seeker’s website: www.aptsgold.com.
Registration is now OPEN.
Dry camping is allowed at the site and porta-potties will be available.
Who: American Prospector Treasure Seeker and Sleepy Bear Mine
What: PLP-MMAC Oktoberfest
Where: Sleepy Bear Mine (near Randsburg, Calif.)
When: Friday, Oct. 9 to Monday, Oct. 12
Why: To raise awareness of public lands and honor Public Lands for the People founder Jerry Hobbs
who passed away last year. The event will also raise funds for PLP and the newly formed Minerals
and Mining Advisory Council. This is a family-friendly event open to all outdoor enthusiasts for
gold prospecting, metal detecting, hiking, off-roading, dirt biking, camping, bottle collecting and
How: Registration begins July 4. Anyone planning to attend MUST register in advance at
Volunteers and sponsors welcome:
To volunteer your services in setting up, operating the event and cleanup, or to donate prizes,
call Jim Jeffrey at American Prospector Treasure Seeker: (951) 676-2555.
Public Lands for the People: For more information about PLP, go to the organization’s new website: www.PublicLandsForThePeople.org
Brad Jones is the Managing Editor/Communications Director for the Gold Prospectors
Association of America and the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association. He can be reached at