If you liked the lines from some old movies, like “there’s gold in them thar hills,” you’re probably going to like what will be going on this weekend outside Bellville and Butler.
A group of optimists of all ages will be converging at the 20th Annual Gold Rush Days of the Buckeye Chapter of the GPAA. (Gold Prospectors Association of America). The Gold Rush Days this year will be Saturday and Sunday.
There is a site known as the Swank Claim along the Clear Fork River where it runs between Butler and Bellville.
It is at 1199 Cutnaw Road. This is where people pan for gold, and play other types of movie-like games.
People who have participated in the Gold Rush Days say the event is one that keeps people talking.
Bellville mayor Darrell Banks said he took his grandchildren there several years ago, and they still talk about the gold they panned.
The club members were very helpful, Banks said, and enjoyed showing “us green horns” how to find gold in the Clear Fork.
The Buckeye chapter of the GPAA is a 401k, which makes it a non profit. The people who are members of the Buckeye chapter gather at the gold rush days, where activities include an adult ‘common dig’ for people 14 years old or older. There are kids’ games , speed panning competitions, and metal detecting hunts.
For the unitiated, a common dig is where people can pan for gold, like many earlier generations. People can learn how to use prospecting equipment, and figure out how to identify great holding materials. Participants will share in the traditional nugget draw.
Every paid and working participant will receive a split of the concentrates at the end of the common dig, and be eligible for prizes and the nugget draw.
For this event, adults pay $6 and kids can dig for free.
There’s a lively event called duck races. This is where people can purchase a duck for $1. Once sold, ducks are launched into the river and the first duck to reach the finish line will be the winner of the gold nugget.
There is a metal detecting hunt, set up for those who have metal detectors. There are kids’ crafts, where volunteers will help kids put together a neat project they can take home.
Then, there is a silent and live auction, where people can bid on donated items so expenses of the event can be offset.
Part of the event is a campfire chili cookoff, where participants receive firm instructions: only store purchased meat can be used. No wild game will be permitted.
And the chili must be cooked over a campfire.
There will be a rock balancing event, where entrants’ capabilities at balancing a tower of rocks will be judged.
Trophies will be awarded in youth and adult categories.
There is also a talent show, which doesn’t have anything to do with skills one possesses at panning gold.
Adults and two categories of youths can show off their talents before a panel of judges and the audience. The children’s categories are for kids four to nine years old, and 10 to 15 years old.
One winner from each category will be chosen.
Advice from the organizers: “Please keep your acts family friendly.”