Youth invited to day of fun, fishing

Corn cobb pipes, ragged overalls and straw hats spell only one thing Huck Finn Fun Day.

Children in Craig will put on their best Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher imitations Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Park, all while enjoying a free day of fishing.

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Nick Kamzalow, left, helps register a couple of Huckleberry Finn want-to-be's during last years Huck Finn Day.

Children can win prizes for their costumes as well as their fishing.

"We'll hand out all sort of prizes for things like the biggest and smallest fish," said Nick Kamzalow, chairman of Huck Finn Day. "And, of course, there will be prizes for the best Becky and Huck."

Along with competing in the costume contest, children can build their own fishing poles to enter into a competition. Winning in either competition is a matter of imagination and effort.

"We try to give the prizes for the costume and pole competition to the kids who have put in the most effort," Kamzalow said. "If the kid has worked hard on their costume, they'll hold a pretty good chance of winning. The girls who enter as Becky Thatcher, along with their parents, have usually put a lot of work into what they wear, so it's only fair that it goes to someone willing to do all that."

Huck Finn Day is a nation-wide event sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Locally, Post 4265 and its Women's Auxiliary sponsor the contest.

At one time, Huck Finn Day was held during Grand Olde West Days, but was moved to coincide with Colorado's free-fishing day. The move was made to prevent parents without fishing licenses from falling into legal mishaps by handling their children's poles.

The ponds at Loudy-Simpson will be specially stocked for the Day courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW). The DOW stocks the pond in exchange for a half-hour on Huck Finn Day that is used to present a safety course to the children.

The Lion's Club will provide free food for participants.

The lure of free fishing and prizes has made Huck Finn Day a popular event in the past. Last year, more than 100 children participated, who along with their parents, created a Huck Finn Day crowd of close to 300 people.

"We didn't get the advertising we wanted for this year's day," Kamzalow said. "But since it's an annual event, we should still get people out there."

The day has been a part of the VFW tradition as long as most people can remember. Kamzalow remembers participating in Huck Finn Days during his childhood.

"There are a lot of guys my age who remember the day from when they were young," he said. "So, you know the day has been around for a while."

Registration for the most authentic costume and fishing derby will begin at 8 a.m. at Loudy-Simpson Park. All children must register before competing.

Huck Finn Day is open to children ages 1 to 15. Children eight and younger need to be accompanied by an adult.

Any kind of fishing pole may be used, even the homemade poles constructed for the competition.

If a child does not have fishing equipment, there will be some available, though the free rods and reels are subject to availability. Bait will also be provided.

There is a four-fish limit on Saturday, and the VFW will provide a cleaning station for those who do not know how to dress their fish.

"It's a fun day for the kids and their parents," Kamzalow said. "The enthusiasm of the kids makes it all worth the time."

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