Up to 10,000 people are expected to descend on Abbotsford next August for a major international geocaching event dubbed “GeoWoodstock.”
The event is expected to be a boon to the region’s hospitality industry and fill Abbotsford’s hotels.
“In the geocaching world there are quite a few major geocaching events, but GeoWoodstock is the biggest one,” said Craig Nichols, Tourism Abbotsford and Tradex executive director. “It’s not just a regional or national event but truly an international event.”
Next year will be the 18th GeoWoodstock and the first time a Canadian city hosts the event. The executive committee expects between 7,000 and 10,000 attendees from across North America and Western Europe to take in the event.
“Geocaching is a niche thing; a small number of people spread widely,” said GeoWoodstock XVIII executive committee member Chris Edley. “We’re reaching far and wide and bringing that community together.”
The high-tech treasure-hunting game originated 20 years ago in the Pacific Northwest.
Called the world’s largest treasure hunt, geocaching is played by more than six million people in 190 countries. Using GPS satellite location services, geocachers seek hidden containers in various shapes, sizes and difficulty ratings. Once a cache is found, participants sign the log book, record their find online and trade knickknacks before returning the cache to its hiding spot.
Geocaching is described as an outdoor family activity that can be done at any time of year. The activity can also be physically and mentally challenging, and involve difficult caches. At present, there are around 3,000 geocaches near or in Abbotsford.
The event in Abbotsford is set for Aug. 22, 2020, just a week after a celebration in Seattle to mark geocaching’s 20th anniversary.
Holding GeoWoodstock XVIII on the following weekend in Abbotsford will allow participants to take part in both events.
The day-long conference-style event will take place at the Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre.
The first GeoWoodstock event took place as a way to bring geocachers together. The event now acts as an annual pilgrimage for geocachers worldwide.
Edley said the Tradex venue and Abbotsford’s proximity to Seattle were key. The committee worked with both Tourism Abbotsford and geocaching.com in Seattle to craft the winning bid.
“The leaders of GeoWoodstock are very excited about having it go to B.C.,” Edley said. “Our goal is to encourage the visiting geocachers to interact with our Fraser Valley communities as they explore, discover and connect, following in the footsteps of fur traders, gold seekers and lumberjacks, which have formed the modern history of our region.”
Organizers will work with local tourism groups to create custom GeoTours the week preceding GeoWoodstock. The tours will offer co-ordinated routes, with stops at local businesses and upgraded rewards for completing the GeoTour.
In the year leading up to the event, Tourism Abbotsford and the GeoWoodstock XVIII executive committee will work with Fraser Valley communities and businesses to design additional side events and activities to attract geocachers.
“We’re excited to have this event here and attract so many people to the area,” said Bradley Styba, Tradex’s director of events and business development.
“There will be an impact on the community for sure, since they’re challenged to find things while out and about.”
GeoWoodstock attendees will also be encouraged to visit the surrounding areas and experience the local culture, cuisine, hospitality and points of interest.
To learn more about geocaching, to locate caches or to register for a free geocaching account, visit geocaching.com.