Gold & Outdoor Festival set for August
Stockton GPAA chapter gears up for annual event in Sonora, Calif.
By SARAH REIJONEN
Move over Shark Tank—coordinators of the Gold & Outdoor Festival will be looking for the next big prospecting idea.
“We’ve always got the builders contest,” said Delta Gold Diggers President Robert Guardiola. “We get some pretty unique ideas in there. People fashion their own equipment and build their own stuff; it’s a good platform to show it off. If you’re a commercial vendor or if you’re just a guy or gal fashioning something to work in your particular area, bring it on. Show it. You have the opportunity to win some nice nuggets. Last year, we gave away three nuggets totaling almost five grams. It’s a nice way to show off what you’ve made.”
But, the festival is not just for innovators; it’s for outdoor enthusiasts from prospectors to fishermen and women, off-roaders to hikers. The Delta Gold Diggers, a local chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America based in Stockton, Calif., will host the Gold & Outdoor Festival for the third consecutive year at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, Calif., Aug. 20 and 21. Admission is $7 per person and free for children 12 and under.
Aside from the builders contest, the festival will feature demonstrations, seminars and metal detecting hunts for all ages. The main objective of the show is to unite all outdoor users, Guardiola said.
“This year we hope to add a fly fishing display,” Guardiola said. “We’ve got some four-wheel-drive clubs participating and bringing their vehicles. It’s open to all venues, not just gold mining. Most gold folks like to do just about everything. We’re trying to get the outdoor enthusiasts excited about it.”
Subtract the kombucha and bell-bottoms, and add in some Hillbilly Tea and camo and you have the Gold & Outdoor Festival.
“We’ve heard it called the Woodstock of the gold mining community,” Guardiola said. “People are excited. They like to come out and camp. They like the camaraderie and that you can stay all weekend and that it’s a jumping off point to more prospecting opportunities.”
The festival grounds are conveniently located 10 minutes from the historic mining town of Jamestown and just five miles from Columbia State Historic Park. It is also within driving distance of multiple GPAA claims and the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association Italian Bar Camp.
Attendees can park right at the festival grounds, but space is limited and filling up fast, Guardiola said. RV camping with full hook-ups is $30 per night, while tent camping is $20 per night.
Prospectors from novices to well seasoned veterans will be able to glean knowledge from the variety of displays and seminars at the festival.
“We’re hoping to have a working dredge and a working processing plant from start to finish, where we take the ore and split it apart with explosives and put it through the large crusher, then a fine crusher and then sluice it down and refine it right there before your eyes,” Guardiola said.
Seminars will cover everything from the basics of how and where to find gold to how to efficiently operate a metal detector, Guardiola said.
“So far, we’ve got a full day of lectures and it looks like we might need to expand to another hall to accommodate everybody,” Guardiola said.
After taking it all in, attendees can put their knowledge to the test by participating in the annual metal detector hunts: the Treasure Quest and Claim Jumper. Participants are encouraged to bring their own detectors, but they will also have detectors available to borrow for the hunts. There is a $20 entry fee for each hunt. The Treasure Quest hunt is a 20-minute hunt designed so that detectorists can get their bearings—then the real fun begins with the 45-minute Claim Jumper Hunts, which take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
In addition to the wealth of hands-on knowledge, prospectors can gain at the show, attendees also have the chance of winning $5,000 in raffle prizes.
“We’ve got a lot of exciting little things on the horizon, and hopefully they all pan through,” Guardiola said.
The Delta Gold Diggers will donate all of the main raffle proceeds directly to Public Lands for the People, Guardiola said. The festival brought in $6,000 the first year and welcomed approximately 3,000 attendees. This year, Guardiola predicts they will double that number.
“They are a huge supporter,” said PLP President Ron Kliewer. “Everything helps from the smallest to the largest donor.”
The American Mining Rights Association and other groups will also have booths and gold nugget raffles to raise their own funds.
“AMRA President Shannon Poe will talk about current events in mining, and be involved in our start-to-finish mining demonstration,” Guardiola said.
Delta Gold Diggers
Gold & Outdoor Festival
WHO: GPAA Delta Gold Diggers Chapter
WHAT: Gold & Outdoor Festival
WHERE: Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora, Calif.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHY: Why not? The event is open to the public. All outdoor enthusiasts are welcome.
HOW: Admission is $7 adults, 12 and under are free