Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Anyone hoping to find gold in the Mother Lode may want to start at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds this weekend.

A Stockton-based group of prospectors, the Delta Gold Diggers, is offering seminars and training for prospectors during the two-day "Gold and Outdoor Festival" on Saturday and Sunday at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 each day but free for children 10 and younger.

The Delta Gold Diggers host several events a year, including one last year in Turlock that drew about 2,500 people, said Delta Gold Diggers President Robert Guardiola.

The festival in Sonora will have sessions for people to learn about where to go mining, how to pan for gold and how to use a metal detector.

Guardiola said the group wanted to bring an event closer to the spots where its members spend most of their time.

"The whole emphasis was, 'Give to the community where we enjoy what we do,' " he said.

The group hosted other events earlier this year in Fresno and Redding.

Guardiola's group is the local chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America, which has 16 other chapters in California alone.

The Delta Gold Diggers chapter has about 500 members, Guardiola said, including amateurs who find a few bucks in gold on an occasional prospecting trip and others who make their living from gold.

He said he's found about 1.5 ounces this year. Gold is selling for about $1,300 an ounce.

"If a person is willing to go out, they are going to find some color in their pan," Guardiola said.

More than $10,000 in prizes will be given away in drawings, including a trip to Nome, Alaska, and $3,000 in buried coins for people to find and keep if they take a class on using a metal detector.

Dozens of manufactures and dealers will offer equipment and product demonstrations and an area will be dedicated to gold panning lessons for novices through advanced.