Fort St. John resident comes out on top at 51st World’s Invitational Gold Panning Championship

Fort St. John’s Garrett Gejdos came out on top over high-level competition at the 51st annual World’s Invitational Gold Panning Championships in Taylor this past weekend.
Participants taking part in last year’s annual gold panning championship. (Jordan Prentice,

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Fort St. John’s Garrett Gejdos came out on top over high-level competition at the 51st annual World’s Invitational Gold Panning Championships in Taylor this past weekend.

The championship took place at Peace Island Park from August 4th to August 6th and featured four gold panning competition categories and vendors selling handmade goods.

The event was started in 1912 by the late Dorse Prosser and Jesse Starnes.

Since its inception, the class “A” competition has brought top-level certified professional panners from Australia, Holland, and the U.S. to the region. Class “A” competitors are measured in three areas: speed panning, skill panning, and fine gold panning.

Gejdos said it took a lot of practice and luck to be successful in this event.

“Sometimes it all comes together beautifully, and it was one of those days where it all came together for me,” said Gejdos. 

The passion for gold panning runs in Gejdos’s family, as his grandfather has been involved in gold panning since 1974, and many of his uncles and cousins have competed in different events.

“It is a family event encouraging locals to participate and create a fun environment,” said Gejdos. 

Gejdos believes the championship has started gaining more recognition around the province, with many youtube channels streaming it online.

David Coupland secured second place in the class “A” category, while Trina Barrette finished third. 

“Being a part of this event regularly and winning the event twice previously brings immense satisfaction. The thrill of competing with fellow enthusiasts makes it truly enjoyable,” said Coupland. 

The World’s Invitational Gold Panning Championships 2023 schedule. (District of Taylor)

Dylan Payne won the class “B” category, with Trina Barrette coming in second. The class “B” category is classified under the non-professional.

Payne said this event has given her much-needed exposure, and getting awarded in her debut event will further boost her to polish her skills and win the class “A” championship next year.

“The community’s encouragement and unwavering support has strengthened my resolve to improve myself in gold panning,” said Payne.

Dan Hous took home the class “C” category, with Zane Can as the runner-up. The class “C” category is classified under the adult/juvenile.

Nathan Sewell won the Juvenile Open, and Kelly Gejdos won the Bannock Baking and Metal Detecting adult competition. 

The City of Fort St. John’s mayor, Lilia Hansen, finished second in the media/celebrity/sponsor panning event, with Frank Gejdos coming out on top.  

The championship’s founders envisioned an annual gathering to unite people of all ages at Peace Island Park. Their vision remains alive, according to Garrett Gejdos, as the event has transformed into a three-day celebration filled with exciting activities for individuals of every age.


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