There are three major changes that can be seen in the organization of the 30th edition of the Dawson City International Gold Show, which will fill up a section of 4th Avenue between May 20 and 21.
The first, as noted by Dawson Chamber Manager Courtney Holmes, is that the trade show had to expand its outdoor footprint due to popular demand. Of the 105 booths being rented for the show, this year 26 of them are outside the Art and Margaret Fry Recreation Centre and all but three of those are have been booked already.
The other 79 booths are inside the arena, as usual. Seventeen of those remain, but trade show coordinator Mark Mather is sure they will be gone by the time the weekend is ready to run.
Typically the indoor venues are packed with government agencies, volunteer groups recruiting or promoting their events, electronics sales, gold buyers, crafts people of all descriptions and many businesses related to the industry.
Outdoor venues feature heavy equipment and other machinery.
Instead of outdoor venues being confined to the block of 4th Avenue between Queen and King Streets, there will be nine booths narrowing the south side of Queen for the two days of the event.
Another 12 are across 4th Avenue on the west side, with two more right outside the arena, and a final three, reserved for the horticultural sales, located at the north side of the recreation centre, jutting partly into the avenue.
Just behind them is the second major physical change. Due to renovation work being carried out at the Palace Grand Theatre, it was not available for the Bill Bowie Dinner and Auction, or for the beer tent usually located beside the theatre. This year both of these will be found in tents, one large and one small, in the Rec. Centre parking lot, right behind the plant sales area.
The third change is procedural. Information sessions and workshops have come and gone over the years. There was a poor turnout at last year’s sessions, and with the Palace Grand not available to host them, it seemed a good time to drop them off the program for this year, at least. The only gathering of people in a meeting will be the annual spring meeting of the Klondike Placer Miners’ Association (KPMA).
The Gold Show was founded in 1986 by the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce, the KPMA and the City of Dawson, and established to celebrate Dawson’s gold rush heritage and contemporary mining practices.
The chamber, which manages the event and also uses it as a major fundraiser, maintains that it “encompasses the diverse and interconnected sectors of the regional economy and exposes visitors to new industry offerings.”
Usually held around the same time as the George Black Ferry goes into the Yukon River after breakup, the show gives an early kick-start to Dawson’s summer visitor season.
Bill Bowie was one of the founders of the show and one of its champions during his lifetime. The Bill Bowie Dinner and Auction has become a tradition at the Gold Show.
Donning red suspenders as was Bill’s typical garb, attendees gather to celebrate Dawson’s mining heritage. The event is sponsored by AFD, the Dawson City General Store and the Dawson City Chamber of Commerce and will be held on Friday, May 20 at 5 p.m.
A silent auction is part of that evening.
It’s worth mentioning that Dawson breaks out in blooms right after the Gold Show, and that plant sales are a major attraction for those not necessarily involved in mining.