Huck Finn Day

Fishing derby, costume contest planned for event

Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher are about 120 years old, but they never age.

Each year, Craig children come together to compete for the best rendition of the well-known characters before they grab their fishing poles and hit the water.

Saturday marks the 51st annual Craig Huck Finn Day. The family event kicks off at 8 a.m. with registration, followed by a costume contest and fishing derby for children ages 1 through 15.

Girls with the best Becky Thatcher costume and boys who can best imitate Huck Finn will have a chance to win a prize at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Park if they register before the contest. Contestants will be divided into two classes: ages 1 through 8 and 9 through 15.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 and Auxiliary sponsor the event, which coincides with the Colorado Free Fishing Day. No fishing license is required, but contestants will be limited to four fish from the stocked pond.

Dr. Leo Schneider was responsible for starting Huck Finn Day with the Elks Club in 1953. The goal was to teach children about sportsmanship and how to fish, Schneider said.

"We must have had about 1,200 kids fishing that day," recalled Schneider. They all gathered around the storm ditch adjacent to the old high school on Yampa Avenue, he said.

The event is going strong and each year brings in about 200 young Hucks and Beckys.

This year, representatives from Colorado Game and Fish and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department will be on hand to present safety tips and rules before the derby begins. A limited number of rods and reels also will be available for anyone who would like to use them.

For those in need of a fashion consultation for the costume contest: Huck Finn wore tattered overalls, dragging along the ground and a ragged straw hat atop his sandy hair. He smoked a corncob pipe and carried a homemade willow fishing pole as he walked barefoot to the pond.

Becky Thatcher wore a sunbonnet over her two braids and carried a parasol in her white-gloved hands. She was quite the lady in her long full skirt, dainty apron, pantalets, white stockings and black "Mary Jane" shoes.

A concession stand complete with hamburgers, hotdogs and soft drinks will cater to those who choose not to eat their freshly caught fish. Organizers ask that children younger than 8 be accompanied by an adult and that participants refrain from using drugs or alcohol.

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