Hopeful that summer really will come this year, hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts turned out for the 24th annual Sport, Rec, and Trade Show at the Soldotna Sports Center. The show offers a meeting place for vendors of everything from knives and guns to hose nozzles and frying pans with everyone that is looking for a new toy, boat or place to lodge this summer. Groups such as the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Safari Club, and Sportsmen Clubs have a chance to meet with people and share their particular purposes. Tourist organizations and Bed & Breakfast associations pass out their latest brochures and kids get to go fishing at the Lance Domonoske Living Memorial Trout Pond. Many return home from the show with a sample of jerky, salmon spread, or perhaps a dose of gold fever caused by recreational prospectors like Bernie Pendergast of Soldotna who was demonstrating metal finders at the show. "We have metal detectors that are far superior today to what has been available in the past and many are designed specifically for locating gold nuggets. Here in Alaska we have some of the richest creeks that produce some of the largest nuggets in the world, and the combination of the new technology, Alaskan gold fever, and hobbyists who want to experience Alaska and its history, we have a great combination, and we are selling folks a good detector and taking them out on guided trips to mines and people are having a ball finding their first gold nuggets," Pendergast told the Dispatch.
Pendergast admits that old mines are heavily littered with bits of old metal but says new detectors have metal discrimination and that it's very possible with a little practice to become quite successful in separating treasure from trash. Roy Bertoglio is the local distributor for White Metal Detectors on the Kenai Peninsula and was recommending trips to Ganes Creek, Alaska, "it's Alaska's largest metal detecting gold mine. You can go there for $3,000 a week, which is the price of an average nugget. Ganes Creek has produced over 250,000 ounces of gold and much of that gold includes some of the largest nuggets ever found in Alaska. Thousands of acres of tailing piles contain nuggets lost by bucket line dredges and inefficient bulldozer operations of the past. The chances of finding very large nuggets on Ganes Creek with a metal detector are some of the best in Alaska," said Bertoglio. Pendergast cautions that gold fever is no myth, "I found my first 3 oz piece in 2002, but then in 2006 I found a nugget that weighed a pound and I'll tell you it was a test of my cardio-strength because it really had my heart pounding, gold fever is very real and once you've been bitten there's no cure. But it's a great outdoor hobby, a lot of fun and a great way to recreate in the wilds of Alaska that are rich in history and the tailings of the miners that were there in 1898 and later," he said. For more information on metal detectors call Roy Bertoglio at 953-2015, or to book an Alaskan Gold Adventure call Bernie Pendergast at 733-2488. According to Terry Coval the Sport, Rec, and Trade Show promoter this year's show had more to offer than any in the past and he is already busy planning the 2010 25th Anniversary Show.
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