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Digging up fun in Sonora

The West, more specifically California, was founded on the quest for gold and the prospect for a better life for the settlers and prospectors. Travelers from all over America and even Canada and Mexico got wrapped up in the gold rush and made their way to California in search of the shiny metal. The rich history of Sonora and the Mother Lode lives on to this very day, with streams still panned for that elusive nugget of gold.

The Delta Gold Diggers will be hosting the Gold and Outdoor Festival at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora on Aug. 20 and 21. This event will have several hands-on activities for both kids and adults. One of the popular attractions is panning for real gold. Kids and adults will have the opportunity to pan for genuine gold, just like the miners did in the 1800s.

Admission is $7 for adults, $1 off for veterans with ID, children 12 and under are admitted free. Hours for the event are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

“Our festival brings in an estimate of four to five thousand people each year. I think the main draw is that it is fun and educational for everyone,” said Delta Gold Diggers president Robert Guardiola.

Guardiola has been with the Delta Gold Diggers for nearly a decade and has seen the club grow, as well as garnering continued support from the community.

“Another thing that brings people in is the excitement of the potential prospect of finding gold. Everyone wants gold right? The kids like to pan for gold and the adults like the jewelry and equipment expo that we have,” Guardiola added.

This unique two day festival features over 25 vendors and includes several different food and drink offerings throughout the fairgrounds. The Gold and Outdoor Festival will also feature knowledgeable and experienced miners who will be offering some advice for novice prospectors. The speakers are slated to include Ray Mills of Trinity AU, Shannon Poe of American Mining Rights Association, James Hutchings of Naturally Mine, Rob Gorham of 49er Mining Supplies, Joe Martori of MMAC and Tom Bohmrer of Cascade Mountains.

“This is what is special about the festival, all the support that we get from local communities. We have all these different vendors and organizations come out and we all help out each other,” Guardiola said.

Adding to the fun of the festival is the equipment expo, which features tools, pans, picks and a variety of other pieces of equipment used by miners on their quest for gold and silver.
“It is great to see people’s faces light up when they see all of the tools and equipment that they used,” Guardiola said. “They hold seminars on what the tools are and how to use them properly. It’s important to know where and how to pan legally.”

Also on tap is their Make Your Own Equipment Contest. This is where folks can hand make their own equipment like pans, picks, large equipment or anything they think can be used on the trail. The winners will receive prizes like a gold nugget, equipment and more. Each contestant can bring in up to three pieces each. There are also a variety of prize drawings, with tickets available at the event.

The Delta Gold Diggers stay active year round and also do clean-up work at the streams and bodies of water in the area.

“The most important thing is to keep our environment clean and better than the way we found it. If we are out there panning, we need to clean up the things that do not belong in the water or on land. By that I mean garbage, plastics sometimes even shoes are left out there carelessly. So we take care of that,” Guardiola said.

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