Gold diggers of the 1870s retrieved the alluvial gold from stream beds by means of panning and sluice boxes. This tradition lives on at Pilgrim's Rest in the form of demonstrations to the public and the annual National Gold Panning Championships. Gold panners compete for three days, displaying a diversity of gold panning skills and techniques. The competition involves panning out buckets of sand against time, with penalties awarded for lost gold nuggets.
The South African Gold Panning Association (SAGPA) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is also a member of the World Gold Panning Association. The World Championships have twice been hosted at Pilgrim's Rest – in 2005 and 2012. A South African team annually attends the international competition (hosted every year in a different country) and local panners have won numerous medals over the years.
South Africa has won the bid to host 2023 World Gold Panning Championships.
The competition will be held in Pilgrim’s Rest.
“We are delighted that the country’s bid to host the 2023 World Gold Panning Championships was successful,” said the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation MEC, Lindiwe Ntshalintshali. She made a virtual presentation on August 19 to the World Goldpanning Association Exco in the Czech Republic where this year’s championships are currently underway.
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