Director of Community Services Sonja Profittlich says that although gold isn’t a major part of Taylor’s history, it has become one with the growth of the competition.
“There was never such a thing as the gold rush here,” she explains. “They found a little gold, but people were pretty picky in claim staking. Then a group of volunteers started this event 40 years ago and it has been growing ever since, and now it’s a big annual festival.”
The Gold Panning Championships have been held on the banks of the Peace River since 1972, founded by Dorse Prosser and Jesse Starnes.
The festivities begin Friday evening with the parade at 6:30 p.m. followed by a family campfire and entertainment in the park.
Saturday is the major day for competition, as the Adult and Juvenile class and the Non-Professional Class get started, along with Media, Celebrities, and Sponsors. Also on Saturday will be demonstrations for beginners, a Juvenile Open competition, and a bannock baking competition. The day will be rounded out with an arts and craft fair, a candy rush at 2 p.m., and a barbecue and campfire before a movie in the park.
Sunday is the big day for the Certified Professional gold panners, as well as chances for metal detecting. Gold panners from all over the world have descended on Taylor, including some from as far as Holland, Australia, Quebec, and the Yukon in the past. It all starts with a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., and ends with an “All Out Pan Out” at 3 p.m. and awards at 4 p.m.
Last year, Grande Prairie’s Tyson Gejdos upset Quesnel’s Scott Ream, who held the Class “A” title for three years in a row and will likely be looking to come back from his runner up spot in 2012.