Nostalgic fishing day teaches sportsmanship

A lot has changed since 1953.

Back then, in order to summon a police officer, one had to call the switchboard operator and have her turn on the red light hanging on Victory Way. The next time an officer noticed the red light, he would call the switchboard operator and find out where the trouble was.

Despite how much things have changed in 50 years, one thing remains the same -- strong family values are important.

Fifty years ago, Dr. Leo Schneider and the Elks Club saw a need to found an event that would give the children of the community something to do and look forward to each summer.

Huck Finn Fun Day was born in the summer of '53.

"We were interested in getting the children together to do something. We taught them sportsmanship and how to fish," Schneider said. "I think all organizations have an outlook for programs that will involve their members and their families."

Originally, the event was held in the storm ditch at the old high school on Yampa Avenue.

"We had a mammoth crowd in that ditch. It was safe. That day started a lot of kids on being fishermen," Schneider said.

Fifty years later, Huck Finn days is still a popular family event for residents of Moffat County. Held at Loudy-Simpson park each summer, the fishing derby is a draw to more than 200 kids between the ages of one and 15 and the goal is still the same -- let young children have fun while teaching them to appreciate the outdoors and good sportsmanship.

This year's event, sponsored by the Veteran's of Foreign Wars Post 4265, will take place from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. June 7 at Loudy-Simpson Park. Because event organizers coordinate the event in conjunction with Colorado Free Fishing Day, no fishing license is required.

Schneider attended last year's festivities and was happy to see the progression of the derby.

"There are new sponsors who do a terrific job of giving prizes to the kids," he said. "It was really interesting to see how these kids have changed and advanced compared to my day."

But more advanced or not, Schneider thinks kids look forward to the event all the same."

"Kids have more opportunity and entertainment now, but they all love it and look forward to being in it," he said. "Parents are especially interested in seeing their kids learn sportsmanship."

And on the 50th anniversary of this event, Schneider is proud to see the continued success of the event.

"To have it is great, to have it last this long is even greater," he said.

The family day might just be the only day aside from Halloween where it is not only acceptable to dress in costume, it's encouraged.

The morning events kick off with a Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher costume contest followed by a safety lesson provided by the Colorado Department of Game and Fish and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department. Fishing for prizes begins at 9 a.m.

For those children who would like to participate, but do not have fishing equipment, poles, bobbers and other accessories will be provided. The VFW and Ladies Auxiliary will be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs free of charge for participants and their families. Donations are accepted.

"It is just an event that focuses on the family and having fun," said Bill Harding, Moffat County Veterans Service Officer.

Rules and licensing

requirements:

  • No license is required, it is Colorado Free Fishing Day.
  • Four (4) fish limit.
  • All state fishing requirements apply
  • No drugs or alcohol are allowed
  • Fishing can be with any kind of pole
  • The pond will be stocked for the event.
  • All children must be registered before they can compete for the most authentic Becky Hatcher/Huck Finn costume or to enter the fishing derby
  • There will be two divisions of the costume contest -- the senior division will be for ages 9 through 15 and the junior division for ages 1 through 8.

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