Pilgrim’s Rest was abuzz with activity during the annual SA National Gold Panning Championships held from September 25-28.
The proceedings were officially opened by Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, the MEC for the Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation (DSCR) on the evening of September 25. She pointed out how the sport of gold panning contributes to developing social cohesion, one of the key priorities in South Africa.
The pillars of a socially democratic society are in place when everyone treats each other as equals and with fairness, mutual respect and understanding. “The stronger the relationship between all citizens of our beautiful country is, the stronger will our Nation be,” explained Ntshalintshali. “It is very crucial for us all to incorporate and embrace our diversity as we strive for a socially cohesive nation and a common shared South African identity.“
During the opening Ntshalishali also called onto the stage and congratulated all the members of Team SA who had won medals in international competition during the past year.
The opening ceremony was preceded by the street parade which proceeded from the village to the gold panning site. There were 28 motorised and walking floats that stretched for over one kilometre. The organising team from Pilgrim’s Rest Museum Services are to be congratulated!
After the heats on the first day of the gold panning competition, spectators could enjoy the wheelbarrow race. This tradition remembers “Wheelbarrow Patterson” who discovered the alluvial gold in the Pilgrim’s Rest valley in 1873. This relay race was won by the team from the Royal Hotel, with the Transvaal Gold Mining Estates (TGME) team taking second place.
A further fun event was the Pub Crawl on the evening of September 27. This year crawlers needed to have their cards stamped at eight different venues, spread across town and in Schoonplaas, to complete the crawl and enter the lucky draw.
The SA National Gold Panning Championships were organised by the SA Gold Panning Association, supported by local Museum Services staff. The main sponsors were the DCSR and Stonewall Mining.