Gold fever will abound in Enderby on the long weekend as the Vernon Placer Miners Club sponsors the 23rd B.C. Open Gold Panning Championships and Family Fun Days.
Moving from its longtime spot in Cherryville, the event will be held at Enderby’s Riverside Park and Fields.
“The Enderby Chamber of Commerce is welcoming the competition May 16, 17 and 18, so be sure to mention the B.C. Open when reserving your campsite or hotel room,” said Diane Fulbrook, with the Vernon Placer Miners Club. “We hope the many residents of Enderby and area will come out and try their hands at winning one of the 100 nuggets available in games and the panning competition.
“It’s open to all ages and there is no admission charge to watch the fun.”
The site is open to everyone to spend the May long weekend, where participants can win real gold nuggets for as little as a loonie to $5 for the many games and raffle prizes going on all day Saturday and Sunday.
The fun begins May 16 with music by Jammers at 7 p.m.
“Bring an instrument and a voice and join in the fun,” said Fulbrook.
At 9:30 p.m., there is an evening metal detecting contest, with no lights or digging tools permitted.
“There will be tubs set up to try your hand at panning for $3. You keep the gold in your vial, and expert panners will help people new to panning get started. Then you’re ready to enter the competitions.”
May 17 and 18 start with pancake breakfasts at 7 a.m. both days for just $5, at the Lions Club gazebo.
A metal detecting contest takes place at 9 a.m. each day. And gold panning eliminations for all ages start at 10 a.m. Saturday with the top-10 in each category to go to the finals on Sunday.
“The youth have their own youth trophy for the highest overall points of both days and nugget prizes for the top-three each day in juniors up to 13 years and teens 13 to 16 years old.”
Adults — 16 years and older — are divided into three categories, with a fee of $10. The novice category is for those new to panning who have never won an event anywhere in the world. The intermediate category is open to those who have panned regularly for fun, cleaned up at an operating claim, or placed anywhere from first to third at an event on the circuit. And finally, the expert category is for those who pan for profit and have won one or more times at an event on the circuit.
The experts will be panning in the elimination rounds Saturday with everyone else. Two eliminations are reserved Sunday morning for the first 20 who had to work Saturday at 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Registration and games start at 9 am.
“The 1/2 barrel tubs are placed on stands so no one needs to kneel on the ground, and a stool is handy for little ones. Lots of splashing happens, so be prepared to get wet,” said Fulbrook. “Flat panning in big tubs uses huge flat disks. Pans are provided so everyone can try them out.
“High rubber boots or hip waders are recommended for this event, as you get right into the water.”
Saturday night fun continues with more music. At 6:30 p.m. the bannock baking contest begins, with ingredients provided. Participants should bring a frying pan, a rack, a turner, and a bowl or plastic bag to mix it in. There will be prizes for adults and youth of nuggets, as well as a Rogers Foods basket. On Sunday, the finals run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The B.C. Open Championship takes place at 2:30 p.m.
“We’ll also have draws and a silent auction, so come join the fun. We have great prizes for this year’s raffle, including a 14.6 gram nugget for first prize.”
The draw takes place May 18 at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at the B.C. Open and from most club members.
For more information, see www.vernongoldpanning.com or e-mail Ernie Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pat Yonkman at email@example.com
“Rain or shine it’s a go,” said Fulbrook. “No weather stops a miner.”