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Gold panning returns to Taylor

2022 championships set for Peace Island Park this weekend
goldpanning-rob fraser
B class champion Rob Fraser accepts his trophy after winning the 2019 competition. He will compete in his first "A" gold panning championship July 31 at Peace Island Park

Sidelined the last two years by the pandemic, Taylor's annual signature event makes a much-anticipated return this week.

Started in 1972, the World's Invitational Gold Panning Championships is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year.

“It's really great that it's back,” said a very excited Mayor Rob Fraser. “It's something we look forward to every year.”

And, for Fraser, there's an added importance as he moves up the gold panning ladder to become an “A” event competitor, something he's had to wait patiently for three years.

“So, it's not just a community event, it's personal for me too,” he jokes.

But it's tradition, he believes, that makes the weekend special.

“For me, it's when everyone dresses up (in historic wear) on the Sunday,” said Fraser, who plans to transform himself into an 1800s mayor.

Considered a top-tier event, the championships have managed in its history to bring in talented gold-seekers from as far away as Holland and Australia.

In fact, its second-ever champion was from Azusa, Calif., and one of the reasons early organizers likely went with the name 'World's Invitational.'

While some have passed on, it seems, others continue to return some 20 and 30 years later.

In all, the event has had 22 different world class champions since its inception – Edmonton's Michael Gunderson, the latest winner in 2019.

“The weekend will kick off off with the parade,” explained Community Services Director Sherri Maycock. “Marshalling starts at 6 pm. The parade starts at 6:30 and everyone meets back here behind the community services hub.”

“We ordered some gold coins for gold panning this year. The vendors' market is back. We have up to 20 people. We have food trucks coming. Still waiting on a few more registrations for the parade.”

She adds two of the more popular events will also return on Saturday – the media/celebrity/sponsor gold panning challenge at noon, and a bannock baking competition at 7:30 in the evening.

All the events, with the exception of the parade, take place at Peace Island Park.

Below is the full schedule of activities:

Friday, July 29:

6:00 pm – Parade judging (parade forms behind Community Hall)

6:30 pm – Parade begins & ends back at the Community Hall

Saturday, July 30:

9:00 am – Arts & Crafts Fair opens

11:00 am – Registration opens for juvenile, B & C classes

12 noon – Media/Celebrity/Sponsor panning event

12-4 pm – Gold panning displays & demonstrations

1:00 pm – Juvenile Open competition

1-4 pm – Claim staking

2:00 pm – Class B competition

3:00 pm – Candy rush (competition for kids)

4:30 pm – Class C competition

6 pm – Dinner

7:30 pm – Bannock baking competition

9:00 pm – Family Campfire Open Jam

Sunday, July 31:

8:00 am – Pancake breakfast

9:00 am – Adult metal detecting

9:00 am – Arts & Crafts fair opens

9:30 am – Juvenile metal detecting

10:30 am – Church in the Park

12 noon – Class A (world class) competition

3:00 pm – All out Pan Out

4:00 pm – Awards presentations

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