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Geocaching mega event highlighting local attractions

Hundreds of people will be caching around the Lakeland this summer in a first-of-its kind event for western Canada.
The Lakeland Geocaching Society will be welcoming geocachers from all over for the first ever Sails, Rails & Tails event.
The Lakeland Geocaching Society will be welcoming geocachers from all over for the first ever Sails, Rails & Tails event.

Hundreds of people will be caching around the Lakeland this summer in a first-of-its kind event for western Canada.

The Sails, Rails & Tails Geocaching Mega Event Westcan6 is being hosted by the local Lakeland Geocache Society in communities across the region including Cold Lake, Bonnyville and Glendon. Starting on July 6, the society is expecting over 500 geocachers from across Canada, the U.S. and other countries to take in all the wonders of the area.

“(Geocaching) brings people to places they might not otherwise go when they come to your area. You try to bring them to places that can be highlighted, for example up by the museum and by the fish hatchery,” explained Vicky Lefebvre, president of the Lakeland Geocache Society.

She added, “We have one just across from St. Dominic's Parish and the name of the cache is 'Oh, what a view.' People who come to Cold Lake aren't necessarily going to go there and they would miss out on that opportunity to see that beautiful view of the marina and lake.”

The idea to host a geocaching mega event first blossomed back in 2014 after Lefebvre attended an event in Three Hills that saw hundreds of people. From there, a group of about 14 geocachers came together to formally create the Lakeland Geocache Society in order to apply for provincial tourism grants.

Similar to a treasure hunt, geocaching is an outdoor activity that uses GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and attempt to find the geocache, or container, hidden at that location. In Cold Lake alone, there are 138 geocaches. In a 50-mile radius, there's close to 2,000 geocaches to be found and over 1,400 on the Iron Horse Trail.

“We've had people come to the Iron Horse Trail from all over. One gentleman that we knew particularly was from Spain. He had a quad and did the line and thoroughly enjoyed it – that's noticed by people from around the world, not just here,” expressed Lefebvre.

With the hope of making the Lakeland a premier geocaching destination, Sails, Rails & Tails will run from July 6 to 10 starting in Fort George and moving up towards Cold Lake through Elk Point, Glendon, St. Paul and Bonnyville. In each community, geocachers will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of events.

In Glendon, for example, participants will acquire a geocache with recipe ingredients to make a pyrogy. Once all the ingredients are found, they'll head to the hall where they'll learn to make pyrogies by hand and, of course, eat them.

“Bonnyville is going to have an event that's going to be really cool. I don't want to spill the beans, but they have an excellent rodeo and people will have a wonderful experience when they go there,” hinted Lefebvre.

The main event will be held at the Energy Centre in Cold Lake on July 9, where all of the geocachers will come together for a full day of activities and geocaching seminars.

Hosting a mega event also leaves the society searching for funds to help cover their expenses, which are expected to come in at over $30,000. Fundraising hasn't gone quite as smoothly as expected for the group, with some of the companies they were counting on unable to help out.

On March 22, Lefebvre was in front of Cold Lake city council on behalf of the society to request a $5,000 sponsorship for the event.

The Town of Bonnyville has already pitched in $1,250, as well as Elk Point and St. Paul have offered up addition dollars. They're hoping the majority of their revenue will come in from event registrations.

While the expenses for a mega event might be high, Lefebvre noted the economic spin-off and future benefits will be worth it.

“What I'm hoping is people have to come and they have to buy groceries, gas and find a place to stay. They'll probably find things to exchange in the geocaches, so they'll be buying things at stores.”

She added, “If we can bring people to the Lakeland they can remember this, these people go back and tell their friends and family. It'll bring more people to our area and that helps us. It's another way of helping our economy.”

For more information on the Sails, Rails & Tails Geocaching Mega Event, to register, or get involved, visit sailsrailstails.com.