Sadie Smith helps her father pan for gold. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News)

Shaking all over: Yukon Gold Panning Championships are golden

‘If I bomb out, it’s no big deal’

Fill a pan with dirt, submerge it in water, shake and repeat. These are the basic steps that competitors followed during the 2018 Yukon Gold Panning Championships.

More than 100 gold panning veterans, amateurs and beginners stepped up to (and into) giant water filled tubs to try and find their little flakes of real gold July 7.

The annual competition in Dawson City started more than 40 years ago as a way for professional miners to test their skills against each other, but has evolved into an event for everyone.

“It’s a chance for people to come out and find out about gold and to test their (gold panning) skills against others,” said Paul Robitaille, marketing and events manager with the Klondike Visitors Association, and “to find out that mining is still a way of life here in Dawson City.”

In each category, panners received a bucket of dirt seeded with between five to 12 flakes of gold. The number of flakes was unknown to everyone in each event except organizers. Competitors panned their bucket of dirt as fast as they could until they believed they had found all the gold flakes. For every flake not found or lost, they received a three-minute penalty.

Local gold miner Henry Reinink competed in the seniors event. Reinink won the event three years ago but said his times are usually in the middle of the pack.

“If I bomb out, it’s no big deal,” he said. “The fun part about panning in the competition is you get to compete against people you know. Sometimes you do better than them and sometimes they do better than you, but at least you get to say hello.”

The day consisted of the Klondike Classic, in which competitors could only use a traditional Klondike pan, the Cheechako Open, for people with little to no experience, two youth categories and a senior category, and the Canadian Open.

The winner of the Canadian Open this year was local miner Lorraine Millar. Her prize, besides bragging rights, is $2,000 toward a trip to the 2018 World Gold Panning Championships which will be held in Slovakia.

Contact Crystal Schick at crystal.schick@yukon-news.com

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A competitor in the Dawson City gold panning championships dabs at some flakes of gold in his pan. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Seamus Belton waits at the results window as judges count his gold flakes. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Piper Dewel, 4, checks out the gold flakes she found while panning at the gold panning championships in Dawson City. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

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