Dawson City’s David Millar poses with a silver medal he won at the 2017 World Gold Panning Championships earlier this month in Moffat, Scotland. Dawson will host the 2021 World Gold Panning Championships, it was announced last week. (Paul Robitaille/Klondike Visitors Association)

Dawson wins bid to host gold panning worlds in 2021

Klondike town set to host over 300 panners from around the world

In 2021 hundreds of panners will once again flock to the Klondike in search of gold.

Dawson City has been selected to host the 2021 World Gold Panning Championships, the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA) announced earlier this month.

“I can’t think of a better place to host a gold panning competition than the site of the greatest gold rush on earth, Dawson City,” said KVA marketing and events manager Paul Robitaille.

“Dawson has a long history with this event,” he added. “Every year (since the 1970s) we host the Yukon Gold Panning Championships up here in Dawson and the winner of that event gets money to go to the worlds, and we’ve been doing that for about 30 years.”

The 2021 worlds will mark the fifth time the former Yukon capital has hosted the championships, having hosted in 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2007.

Over 300 panners from around the world are expected to travel in for the event that will feature a variety of competitions over different divisions — junior, open and senior, male and female, and team events.

“Here in Dawson we have entertainment already set up and we have 30 things you can do on a daily basis if you’re a visitor,” said Robitaille. “Most places where they hold these events are in places where there’s not much infrastructure for tourism. Dawson is the best place to host this event because we’re already a tourism hub, so we’re pedestrian friendly with lots of places to eat, lots of places to sleep, lots of places to drink, and lots of places to have a good time.

“Some places I’ve been for these championships are in the middle of nowhere. In Italy you had to drive to the competition site and then it’s a 20-minute drive to get to the nearest town.”

Each division heat will see about 30 panners compete. In the competition panners are given a five-gallon bucket of dirt containing between five and 12 gold flakes — the exact number is unknown to the panners — and they must find all the flakes as quickly as possible. For every flake that is missed, three minutes are added to the panner’s total time.

“A lot of them aren’t hardcore gold panners, they go for the chance to travel the world,” said Robitaille. “Most of them will come to Canada and enjoy what the Yukon has to offer outside of just the panning … with the expectation of enjoying themselves after the panning and will stay for a longer period of time.

“We expect 300 or so — that’s how many there were in 2007 — and they’ll stay on average for three weeks. So it’ll be good for the economy, good for Dawson City, good for us on the world stage and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Eight Yukoners competed at the World Gold Panning Championships earlier this month in Moffat, Scotland. Dawson’s David Millar won a silver medal in the Classic Pan category.

The 2021 championships will take place Aug. 24-28.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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