Commentary – Gold panning, who’d of guessed!

Pearl Lorentzen

I grew up in a small town northwest of Drumheller called Three Hills. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about events in the area.

However, this week, I interviewed someone in Slave Lake on a different topic and learned that there’s a gold panning competition in the area. This is on the same weekend as the Three Hills car show, an event I am intimately familiar with.

The population of Three Hills is half of Slave Lake. Every year, since the early 1980s it has held a car show. When I was a kid, there were thousands of antique and custom cars at the show. With spectators, the population of the town doubled. It’s not as big now, but still draws cars in the hundreds.

For mine and other families, this is a very distracting event, so it makes sense that something else in the area could be missed. The gold panning event is Spring Breakout at Trenville Park in the Red Deer River outside of the hamlet of Elnora. This hamlet is less than a half hour north of Three Hills. In all of the years I lived in the area, I’d never heard of such a thing. I knew Elnora had a bull riding competition, which for the size is unusual. Elnora is similar in size to Smith on a grid of six numbered and four named streets.

This made me wonder how many strange and interesting events around Lesser Slave Lake I haven’t heard about. In about a year of living in Slave Lake, I’ve been to countless events. As some don’t happen at the same time each year, I’ve covered one or two twice.

There are very few weekends where there is nothing happening in Slave Lake and area. There are times when I have to decide between two or three events at the same time. I can often fit several in by popping by to take a few photographs. When they are further afield, I have to make a decision based on factors such as how photogenic is the event and how newsworthy.

I’ve also accepted and turned down various board and volunteer positions. It surprises me people say there’s nothing to do in Slave Lake. Even though there are often many things going on, it can be hard to find out that something is happening. Letting the local newspaper know that an event coming up is a good way to make events easier to find.

Events which The Slave Lake Leader staff discover in some way end up on the calendar of events on The Leader website, mentioned on The Page, or in a preview article.

Earlier this week, a group of people in matching orange shirts told us about an event on March 22. They also challenged us to curl. As a person who’s never curled before Everybody Curls is going to be a fun challenge.

It’s appreciated when people come by the office or phone to tell us about events. Otherwise, we have to dig through Facebook, Eventbrite, wander the town looking at posters, and hone our fictional telepathic abilities.

Just like gold panning in Elnora, there’s possibly someone reading The Leader or High Prairie South Peace News who has a gem of an event that they want people to know about. I encourage those people to stop by our offices, phone or send an e-mail. We’d love to hear about it.

This also applies to events we may have heard about, because it’s better to hear from the ‘horse’s mouth’ and sometimes our detective skills miss a trick.

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